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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Urban Gadabout: Last call for Jack Eichenbaum's big day on the L train (this Saturday!)

With the rapid gentrification of Williamsburg, then Bushwick, and continuing farther out on the line, NYC's L train has gone from a forlorn stepchild of the subway system to its "boom" line.

by Ken

I'm hoping that by now urban geographer Jack Eichenbaum -- who's also the Queens borough historian -- needs no introduction to readers, and if he does, just click on the tag below. As I've noted, Jack's wide-ranging tours around NYC (I've toured all five boroughs except Staten Island with him), with their emphasis on the evolving forces of urban geography, have done more than I could tell to enable me to see how and why the city has developed and continues to develop.

One of Jack's choice tour modes is to devote an entire day to a single subway line, usually involving a half-dozen off-the-subway mini-walking tours along the route, giving urban gadders a sense of how variously the urban fabric both absorbed and was shaped by the line. He's probably best-known for what he calls his "signature" tour, "The World of the #7 Train," showcasing the diversity of what may be the world's most "international" rail line. But with Jack I've also toured the J train (from Lower Manhattan across the Williamsburg Bridge into Brooklyn and then Queens) and the Brighton line in Brooklyn (revisiting Howie's and my old lifeline into "the City").

Now, as I've noted here previously, Jack is taking on the L train, in advance of the year-and-a-half shutdown of its connection from Williamsburg to Manhattan, to make possible desperately needed reconstruction and repair of damage caused by the ravages of time and Superstorm Sandy.

The Subway Nut's caption: "A Manhattan-bound R143 L train leaves Atlantic Avenue passing the tracks that lead from the L to the East New York L. (29 May, 2007)"
Life and Art Along the L Train
Saturday, October 22, 10am - 5:30pm

Since its expansion to 8th Avenue in Manhattan in the 1930s, the L line has stimulated gentrification along its route which traverses three boroughs. We explore the West Village and meatpacking district -- including a portion of the new Highline Park— and on to the East Village, Williamsburg, East Williamsburg, Bushwick and Ridgewood noting the continuous transformation of each of these neighborhoods, stimulated by the movement of artists.

This tour requires registration and payment in advance and is restricted to 25 participants. Fee $49 

For a complete prospectus, email:

The L train will soon be shut down for repairs; join this tour prior to that.
Obviously, it isn't going to be possible to do this tour again at least until the L line reopens, and even then, who knows? So if this sounds like something you might be interested in, now is the time to get on board. At last word from Jack, there's still space, but since we're talking about this coming Saturday, you need to contact Jack ASAP, either by e-mail or by phone (if you e-mail me at, I'll send you the number).

While the Manhattan connection is still operational, before it closes for post-Sandy reconstruction and repairs, rhe L train runs from Eighth Avenue and 14th Street crosstown under 14th Street, then under the East River to Williamsburg (Brooklyn) and then eastward, eventually hooking southeastward to Canarsie, within bus range of Canarsie's Jamaica Bay shore. [Click to enlarge.]

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