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Randy Treadway

Let's Go For A Monorail Ride!

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Forty years later, I still have difficulty in understanding the logic to building such a unique venue only to destroy it in two short years. Granted, all things become dated in a short period of time, Walt Disney World is a good example of that, but to destroy all that wonder in just two years seems to me, to be a crime.

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The photographs are great. The automobiles certainly date the images, however. It still interests me that those who built and operated the monorail were content to allow it to serve as an "attraction" in the amusement zone. Had it functioned as a true means of transportation either within the fairgrounds itself (perhaps running the perimeter on the main part of Flushing Meadow Park) or as a mode of conveyance from LaGuardia or something of that sort, it would have been far more impressive and far more memorable. I visited the fair two times and saw a great deal. However, I never even saw the monorail. My parents had a theory that the amusement zone contained little that one could not find at the State Fair or at some amusement park and that we should concentrate on the major pavilions (a good decision, I believe). Consequently, the existence of the monorail had no impact on me. I wonder if others view its location and use in the same way--as a lost opportunity.

The fact that Seattle's monorail still functions today and that it has become something of an icon for that city and that there is continuing discussion about enlarging its route is testimony to the idea that a monorail is far more than an "attraction."

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Seems to me that the monorails at Disney World have proven that they are a viable mode of moving millions of people efficiently... and probably cost-effectively, too. I just can't understand why they haven't been installed in many places. For years, I've been imagining one running down the median of our I-93 that feeds all of the bedroom communities north of boston directly south into Boston.

They must be incredibly cheap to install compared to commuter rail! Yet, in the new plan to widen I-93 from Boston to Manchester, NH, they have a commuter rail corridor in the long term plan. And in the eternal wisdom of government planners, they've just spent the last decade abandoning and destroying a rail line that has covered that entire route since 1849! They just ripped out another 200 feet of that rail for an entrance to a new Best Buy/Comp USA plaza. Briliant!

We've had this discussion before here. It would have been so much better of the AMF monorail had run the perimeter of the whole fair and been usable as a way of getting from Coca Cola to GM for example.

However, running it from LaGuardia seems like a bad idea in retrospect. Who would fly in and go directly to the fair without going to their hotel first (other than Ray Dashner?) I'll bet it's a small number compared to those who may have done one of those "go and return in the same day" bus trips from Boston, Philadelphia or Washington, DC.

If they HAD built it to LaGuardia, who would have been riding it for the last 40 years?. Nobody. No. I think it was better that it just ran within the fairgrounds... although I do think that AMF shortchanged themselves by having it only within the Amusement Area.

I also doubt that the AMF units would have served well as a long-term mode of mass transit. They went through tires like crazy, and the whole drive system doesn't look too substantial for "high speed" reliability.

Randy Lambertus can enlighten us in that discussion... Randy?

The Disney monorails run on dump truck tires and seem to me to be a far better overall design.

I've also often contemplated how either design could work in the snow belt.

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Even if the monorail would have gone over the LIE more people would have visited the lake amusement area. I was playing in my head if we ever had a fair again if they should just use that area for parking?

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It's kind of odd color correcting slides taken out the windows of the monorail. As is obvious from pictures taken outside the monorail cars, the windows were tinted a deep green. So color pictures taken through the windows come out with a distinct green tint.

That can be corrected with today's software products (although the result is beautiful, it isn't reallly what you would see looking through the monorail window!).

But occasionally you get an oddball that's really hard to "fix". You can see from several of these pictures that the camera person was sitting in the end of a car- some of the window frame structure can be seen, and it's angled- which was only at the end location. Whether they were in the 'leading' car, or the 'trailing' car, I'm not sure.

But you can see in exterior photos that some of the glass in those end window panels was curved. That means when shooting a picture from inside, the thickness of the "green-tinted" glass might vary, especially if you're shooting at an angle through a part where the glass begins to curve.

Example: that Hawaii Pavilion picture was a monster. The entire left side was tinted a LOT greener than the rest of the picture. I believe this is because the left side of the picture passed through the tinted glass at an angle where it begins to curve. It was a bear to color correct. I did resections and layers and transparencies- probably about three different variations of correction gradations from left to right across the picture. I finally got it "decent" and gave up, but you can still see some green tint on the left side of the picture- for instance the fronds on the palm tree on the left seem to 'glow' compared to the other palm trees.

Another indication that this photo was shot through the 'curved' part of the glass, was that it actually refracted the picture, if that's the right photographic term. Look at the curb on the street in front of that palm tree. It suddenly curves inward. Other pictures of the Hawaii Pavilion show that this was a straight curb at this location. And the pay phones seem to be "sinking" off to the left.

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To me, the ideal Monorail at the Fair should have been a bigger scale and faster moving, and allowing for an additional station that could let it be functional from a transportation standpoint (and thus show off the whole point of what monorails were and still are capable of doing) and also provide a visitor with a broader panoramic view of the entire Fairgrounds. To just loop around in the distant Amusement area never made much sense to me.

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Do we have any records of how much the monorail cost? I think I have read that Disney has not added more to their system (like connecting to the newer parks) because of the expense. Having ridden the monorails and the buses at DW, I can definitely say I'd like to be able to take the monorail everywhere.

Randy,

Great work on the pictures!

Could you post a couple of the originals (including the "monster") so we could see what you started with?

-Wayne

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Could you post a couple of the originals (including the "monster") so we could see what you started with?

Here's a couple of the raw scans

64-06-23d-15a_Hawaii_Pavilion.jpg

"normal" software correction just made the green tint on the left side even worse. Since this slide was in the "middle of the roll of film" (photos at the beginning or end of a roll sometimes get exposure-burned on the leading or trailing edge), I concluded that it must have caused by shooting at an angle through the green-tinted glass, compounded by a curved window (which also supports the theory of what is causing the curb distortion and sinking phone booth distortion).

64-06-23d-15b_Hawaii_Pavilion.jpg

Here's another- kind of a bluish tint look to it. This one was easier to adjust.

64-06-23d-19a_Expressway.jpg

By the way, in all three raw pictures above, the black edge on the left & right side is not the monorail's window frame. It's the slide mount- I usually scan a little extra and then crop it off.

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Great job, Randy... that was the BEST ride I've had on the AMF Monorail in over 40 years!

And I've learned more about the fair on THIS ride than I did on the REAL ride when I was 12!

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Randy Lambertus will be interested in the picture which includes the maintenance shed- there is a two-car hookup "in the shop". This is also visible in the first picture, which was taken from the other side of the expressway.

In this same photo (the maintenance shed closeup), you can also see a 'big drop' plunge for the Log Flume ride.

We've seen that many times before. We've also seen it from the other side- the Log Flume ticket booth side.

But what this monorail ride revealed that I wasn't aware of until yesterday- what we've been looking at is actually two different 'big drop' plunges.

The Log Flume layout picture is the most detailed I've ever seen, and reveals that there were two completely separate flume circuits. The only thing missing in this picture is the right-most big plunge, which is the one visible right next to the maintenance shed.

We all learn something new about the Fair almost every day!

That view of Gate 6 (the "River Gate") is also one I haven't seen in any pictures before. You can see the Sinclair prototype gas station out in the parking lot.

I'm still not satisfied with the color correction on this one- I just couldn't get rid of the heavy bluishness without distorting the color of the pavement on the road in the foreground (and being after midnight last night I was far beyond pooped )

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Randy,

Hope you caught some ZZZ's now! Out of curiosity, what brand/type of slide film are these? (I'll stick my neck out and guess NOT Kodachrome - either Ektachrome or a non-Kodak brand??)

Wayne

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Actually Wayne, there ARE Kodachrome, but not the usual 35mm dimensions. They are the same width as 35mm, but instead of a smaller height like 35mm, the height is exactly the same. In other words it's a square picture. I could scan it in my Nikon film scanner, but just barely.

I don't know what they called that kind of film.

35mm slides are said to actually be 36mm x 24mm (an aspect ratio of 3:2), so these would be 36mm x 36mm.

I checked this page:

<a href="http://www.geocities.com/thombell/filmimage.html" target="_blank">http://www.geocities.com/thombell/filmimage.html</a>

And the closest I could get looks like 127 film- the 1 5/8 inch square format. BUT....the way these slides are numbered it looks like there were 20 exposures on a roll, and that's not shown on the chart.

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The location of the Fair made the use of a monorail to transport visitors to the grounds highly problematic. This is in direct contrast to the urban core location of Century 21 which used the monorail to transport visitors or the island location of Expo 67 and the Expo Express to the grounds. Also, the lack of a successful post-fair plan for the park would have doomed a monorail to uselessness after the Fair closed. Nevertheless, to relegate it to an amusement did not present the monorail in the best possible light.

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Actually Wayne, there ARE Kodachrome, but not the usual 35mm dimensions. They are the same width as 35mm, but instead of a smaller height like 35mm, the height is exactly the same. In other words it's a square picture. I could scan it in my Nikon film scanner, but just barely.

I don't know what they called that kind of film.

35mm slides are said to actually be 36mm x 24mm (an aspect ratio of 3:2), so these would be 36mm x 36mm.

I checked this page:

<a href="http://www.geocities.com/thombell/filmimage.html" target="_blank">http://www.geocities.com/thombell/filmimage.html</a>

And the closest I could get looks like 127 film- the 1 5/8 inch square format. BUT....the way these slides are numbered it looks like there were 20 exposures on a roll, and that's not shown on the chart.

Randy

Agfa used to have a camera and film called the Agfa Rapid. It was 35mm film in a cartridge similar to the regular 35mm one but yet different. It took square pictures on 35mm film. You put the full cartridge on the left and then pulled out enough of the film to thread (push) into the empty cartridge on the left. When all of the exposures were taken and all the film was in the right side cartridge you took it out and put the now empty one from the left for when you loaded another roll. I had one of these in the early 70's and will try to find it in my attic, I think it took the original 4 sided flashcubes that used a battery to fire, unlike the later Magicubes that were self powered.

<a href="http://nzcp.wellington.net.nz/nzcpexpo/ff98cams/ff98c03.htm" target="_blank">http://nzcp.wellington.net.nz/nzcpexpo/ff98cams/ff98c03.htm</a>

<a href="http://home.versatel.nl/woldhuis90/classiccamera/camera_pages/agfa_rapid.htm" target="_blank">http://home.versatel.nl/woldhuis90/classic.../agfa_rapid.htm</a>

<a href="http://search.estatesilver.com/detail,agfa-isomat-rapid,712764.html" target="_blank">http://search.estatesilver.com/detail,agfa...pid,712764.html</a>

It was introduced in 1962 so it is possible thats what was used for your monorail pics. Of course flash cubes were not introduced till later on, I think my mothers 1965 Instamatic used those little AG1 bulbs. This picture looks just like mine except I think it has the shoe for the electronic flash.

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127 film was used for a square format called "superslide" - this is probably what you have. The Agfa Rapid frames are smaller.

<a href="http://www.frugalphotographer.com/catSuperSlide.htm" target="_blank">http://www.frugalphotographer.com/catSuperSlide.htm</a>

<a href="http://www.photo.net/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=0065NH" target="_blank">http://www.photo.net/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=0065NH</a>

<a href="http://www.geocities.com/heidoscop/127TLRs.htm" target="_blank">http://www.geocities.com/heidoscop/127TLRs.htm</a>

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Randy,

If you look at the format page you posted, the 127 roll giving (16) 2 3/16 x 1 9/16 would also give (20) 1 5/8 x 1 5/8 plus plenty to spare for the additional spaces between frames - so maybe the camera was geared for square shots and this length of roll was used.

I was guessing *not* Kodachrome because of the format and the resulting color - I would have thought Kodachrome might be close to unrecoverable due to the green glass and its saturated color rendition, but you did a great job! Do you dare unmount one to see what codes/type ID is printed along the edge? Thoroughly understand if you don't want to, especially cause you have no new mounts, I presume.

Wayne

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The slide mounts definitely say Kodachrome on them.

The actual mount 'opening' for the picture is more like 1 3/8, not the 'superslide' format. I've had some of those before, and my Nikon scanner can't capture the whole picture. But this one it can, so the 'square' is smaller than superslide.

I'll measure it with a ruler tonight to check, but I'm pretty sure the 'horizontal' part of the slide mount 'hole' is the same as a 35mm.

It's kind of odd- in the past two weeks I scanned batches of slides in this format that I got from two DIFFERENT eBay sellers- and I'd never seen the format before. Kind of odd timing coincidence.

The only ones I'd seen before are:

*regular 35mm format (3:2 ratio)

*superslide format (same 2 inch mount size, but MUCH bigger 'hole'.

*2x2 mounts with a tiny rectangular 'hole'- I guess these were for 110 film, or something like that.

At the end of one of the 'sets' there are two end-of-roll pictures of a harbor cruise past the Statue of Liberty. I didn't even bother scanning those. Maybe I'll get brave and open up the mount on one of those to check the film. ("honey, where's that dull exacto knife?")

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Okay, I measured it, and I had the dimensions wrong.

It's 28mm x 28mm. Looks highly likely that it's 126 film.

The picture is 4mm taller than your standard 35mm slide, but not as wide

126 film came in cartridges, which were introduced in 1963.

Here is a 126 "history" (scroll down):

<a href="http://www.frugalphotographer.com/cat126.htm#126history" target="_blank">http://www.frugalphotographer.com/cat126.htm#126history</a>

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Holy Shmoley! They still make the film? Fantastic! Wonder if my Instamatic still works? I'm gonna have to try it!

I retract my previous statement...my slides from '65 are indeed 28mm square, 126 film.

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