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Hot Time, Summer In The City…

People leaving big cities for beach and mountain resorts is not a modern invention, although doing so by car and plane is. The map above is from the 1880 “Watson’s guide map to summer resorts around New York.” That’s long enough ago that some parts of that world seem unrecognizable: there were no subways and the els were in their infancy. The dark lines in southern Brooklyn mostly coincide with current subway lines, but they were real railroads back then. (Note also that Queens county then encompassed both the current-day Queens and Nassau counties, which is why the town of Hempstead is shown in Queens.)

We’ve regressed in terms of mass transportation to the beach: the entire railroad branch line serving the Sandy Hook peninsula (everything due north of Long Branch) has been abandoned. In some ways we’ve moved ahead: here’s an 1897 map of the Long Island Railroad, showing the south shore trains ending at Bridgehampton, well short of their current terminus at Montauk Point:

But the real eye-opener is looking to the north. Here’s an 1886 summer resort map of the Catskill Mountains (and the surrounding area):

This area currently has no regular passenger train service. (There are tour and nostalgia trains, but they don’t get you to or from the area.) Back then, you had two direct main lines: the Delaware & Hudson and the West Shore, and then a tangle of little railroads connecting the towns. Those small railroad lines were probably not sustainable economically, but it would be very nice today to be able to catch a train from the NYC area to Middletown or Saugerties.