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Earle Baldwin

The IRT Was Redbird Country

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Every so often, we uncover previously undiscovered jewels of great value to ourselves and those who share our passion for railroading. I did just that during a recent visit to http://www.nycsubway.org when I was directed a link to Mark's Subway Videos.

 

The catalog offers in excess of 70 individual programs, the majority of which are devoted to New York City's underground and elevated railway empire. The variety of subjects is staggering and almost overwhelming. This is quite significant since commercially available video of New York City subways is very limited in quantity. As I was scrolling through the numerous titles, I had the feeling of a kid on Christmas Morning who didn't know which present to open first! After many passes, I edited the selections for my first order to eight programs and mailed the money order. A few weeks later, the envelope containing my DVD's arrived. During the entire process, Mark did an excellent job keeping me updated regarding the projected ship date. All eight programs will eventually be reviewed on this forum; however, today's evaluation will discuss Program DV011 titled "The IRT Was Redbird Country."

 

Taped July 21, 1999, "The IRT Was Redbird Country" provides extensive coverage of operation along the IRT's White Plains Road, Pelham and Flushing Lines. Several vignettes of the Eastern Parkway Line and neighboring L Train action in Brooklyn are included as well. As indicated by the title, Redbirds are the star performers although R62/R62A cars appear as well. At the time the program was made, it was believed 1999 would be the final summer of Redbird operation. As we all know, that was not to be the case as they remained in regular service several years beyond that date. Still, they were very plentiful in number at the time this material was recorded and we are privileged to receive a fantastic "Redbird Fix!"

 

The producer was very thorough in his coverage of lines included on the video. In fact, it's hard to believe he was able to do it all in a day but we can be grateful he did. Specific lineside locations visited are as follows:

 

Pelham Line:

Whitlock Avenue

Elder Avenue

St. Lawrence Avenue

Castle Hill Avenue

Westchester Square

Buhre Avenue

Middletown Road

Zerega Avenue

 

White Plains Road Line:

Prospect Avenue

Intervale Avenue

Simpson Street

Freeman Street

174th Street

East Tremont Avenue

East 180th Street

Bronx Park East

Gun Hill Road

 

Flushing Line:

Long Island City - Hunterspoint Avenue (Includes views of Amtrak, LIRR and NJ Transit trains)

Willets Point - Shea Stadium

90th Street - Elmhurst Avenue

111th Street

46th Street - Bliss Street

33rd Street - Rawson Street

 

In addition to runbys at the above locations, we are treated to thrilling head end rides courtesy of the "railfan window" on the Flushing Line Express between Queensboro Plaza and Willets Point - Shea Stadium and on the White Plains Road Line between Simpson Street and Freeman Street with a second sequence from East 180th Street to Gun Hill Road via the express track! This combination of head end rides and trackside views from a number of different perspectives provides great variety and maintains enthusiastic viewer interest. The image quality is razor sharp and the transfer from tape to DVD is superbly executed, greatly enhancing the program's visual appeal. It does not feature narration; however, an insert listing locations visited is provided. In addition, the producer often shows station signs in scenes which aids the purchaser in following along, particularly along lines with which the viewer may not be as familiar as others. Mark was kind enough to include a subway map which I enjoyed referencing as I watched the videos. I found the absence of narration a good choice since it allowed me to listen to the sweet sounds of traction motors, compressors and everything else associated with the art of electric railroading! Each DVD is packaged in a slim line jewel case (offering maximum storage space for more subway DVD's!) and is stamped with attractive photos of a Redbird to the left and one of the museum trains on the right. All discs provided were clean and free of scuff marks and scratches.

 

"The IRT Was Redbird Country" is almost two hours long and is priced at $20 which represents exceptional value. Judging by the quality of this and the other titles I ordered, it is my opinion the programs of Mark's Subway Videos may represent the pinnacle of subway related merchandise currently available to today's hobbyist. I can certainly think of no better way to experience the New York City subway and elevated system without leaving the comfort of your home. The thought of the time and expense required to search out and record what Mark has done is staggering. The combination of equipment featured and overall quality of his video programs make them essential additions to the collections of anyone who claims to be a fan of New York's subways. Do yourself a favor. Click on the link below, pick the programs of your choice and send in an order. You won't be disappointed. In fact, I'll be mailing my second order later this morning!

 

The link to Mark's Subway Videos is as follows: http://www.nycsubway.org/biblio/mark_videos.html

 

Mark told me this listing is now incomplete and he is currently in the process of updating it. Also, as mentioned earlier in this review, he is now offering his programs in DVD format so be sure to specify your preferred format when ordering. These are superb programs not to be missed.

 

Best regards,

 

Earle

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62's make appearances in the video; however, the Redbirds were dominant on the Pelham Line at that time as preparations were being made for the introduction of the 142's.

 

Regards,

 

Earle

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