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Old 07-09-2014, 06:21 PM
 
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ckhthankgod: Why would you expect railroad stations to be located right in the middle of town?
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Old 07-09-2014, 07:03 PM
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Location: Long Island / NYC
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Originally Posted by wburg View Post
ckhthankgod: Why would you expect railroad stations to be located right in the middle of town?
Best location for passengers, in terms of destination access and most centralized (no residents on either side are favored). Also in many cases, towns grew around the train station.
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Old 07-09-2014, 07:43 PM
 
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This assumes a flat geography and no other obstacles. Often railroads arrived in cities in order to meet other forms of transportation--like a river or blue-water port. So it was advantageous to locate the station at water's edge, and many cities located on waterways are only on one side of the waterway. Other geographic limitations like mountains, or existing land uses, can affect that geographic decision.

In the case of Los Angeles, LA was a very small town when Central Pacific arrived in 1876, less than 10,000 people. Railroads set off a land boom, but the obvious direction for growth was toward the water--which was away from the railroad tracks. The city grew around the tracks in all directions, but primarily southward to the port of Los Angeles, and the city grew up in the middle. The lines to the west were electric trains. One assumption in the idea that the station should be in the center is that trains are primarily about passengers--in the United States, even during the golden ages of railroad travel, this was not the case, and railroads were and are primarily about freight. So the only place the tracks needed to be was close to the things they were supposed to move--or, conversely, industry located next to the tracks to facilitate shipping. That tied in with mode-switching areas like river docks or ocean ports.

I don't think there is any sort of universal rule that is followed regarding which part becomes the "wrong side of the tracks," but generally there is a "favored quarter," the direction where the money goes. The obvious "wrong side" is generally where the pollution goes. In Chicago, the railroads led to the stockyards, and the neighborhoods downwind of the stockyards were obviously the less desirable ones. So there is more to it than the tracks.
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Old 07-09-2014, 07:58 PM
 
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Originally Posted by nei View Post
Best location for passengers, in terms of destination access and most centralized (no residents on either side are favored). Also in many cases, towns grew around the train station.
This and wburg, when I mentioned the environmental aspect, it isn't so much about the railroad, but an aspect of what goes on or may be prevalent in neighborhoods on the wrong side if the tracks.
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Old 07-09-2014, 08:24 PM
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Location: Long Island / NYC
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Originally Posted by wburg View Post
This assumes a flat geography and no other obstacles. Often railroads arrived in cities in order to meet other forms of transportation--like a river or blue-water port. So it was advantageous to locate the station at water's edge, and many cities located on waterways are only on one side of the waterway. Other geographic limitations like mountains, or existing land uses, can affect that geographic decision.
The towns around here were often concentrated along river, in a line. Or in a valley. It would make sense for a railroad to connect them.

Quote:
One assumption in the idea that the station should be in the center is that trains are primarily about passengers--in the United States, even during the golden ages of railroad travel, this was not the case, and railroads were and are primarily about freight. So the only place the tracks needed to be was close to the things they were supposed to move--or, conversely, industry located next to the tracks to facilitate shipping. That tied in with mode-switching areas like river docks or ocean ports.
The old train station in my town is in the center. While the railroad was both freight and passenger. The station was in the center of town for passengers. Freight loadings were (and are) probably more on the edge of town. Generally industry was in towns, so if the railroad goal was to move manufactured goods (or supply raw materials) it would make sense to serve these towns. And if practical run the tracks close to the center of town. Often right in the center of downtown is hard, but just outside was a common choice.

Railroads near big cities were passenger dominated. For example, lines serving railroad suburbs. Here's a description of the first big railroad in Massachusetts, the Boston & Lowell, 1835.

The quantity of freight traffic on the Boston and Lowell Railroad was large from the first, as it was expected to be, with Lowell's textile companies bringing in raw materials and sending out finished goods. The level of passenger traffic, however, was not anticipated. People were fascinated with the "cars", and loved that they could travel from Lowell to Boston in forty-five minutes... The Boston and Lowell was faced with a new problem; it had a reputation for speed which made it very popular and highly competitive with stagecoaches. Many people wanted to go not only from Lowell to Boston but to places in between. The Boston and Lowell ordered another locomotive and cars for local passenger rail in 1842, and had them make six stops along the route. Passenger rail proved to be almost as profitable as freight.

Boston and Lowell Railroad - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The line exists now as a state owned commuter rail route. Currently, the Lowell station misses downtown by about 0.7 miles, but there was a downtown station that's a dead end station. It's possible it was built to service the numerous textile mills next to downtown.

Boston and Lowell Railroad - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[Merrimack Station is the dead end downtown station]

The Long Island Railroad was a passenger dominated railroad for most of its history, with freight operations curtailed in the postwar years. The few times the stations aren't in the centers of old towns (where they exist) is when towns were too far out of the way (usually coastal communities whose existence predate the railroad).
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Old 07-09-2014, 10:08 PM
 
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Sort of, the wrong side of the 'tracks' was determined usually by a series of variables most have already mentioned that contributed to the determining of a "Type" of 'wrong side'.

1) Environmental "wrong side" factors: geographic / topographic / climactic factors (lowest parts of drainage system, limited accessibility, downwind)
2) Social "Wrong side": The activities associated with the resultant negative factors from heavy industry - large amounts of non educated male labor and its accompanying 'needs' (i.e. many of these areas were most prominent for brothels, gambling etc...). The natural outgrowth of large manual labor in the immediate employment centers of any such area. This was evident before railroads as coastal wharfs, docks, ship building, maritime service, warehouse areas, etc... were the predecessors to the 'wrong side' as they were usually a 'district/quarter' that had already gained notoriety. The laying of railroad would further delineate these areas as outside the bounds or on the 'other side' of the town/city as varying levels of heavy commerce expanded.

The level of development of the urban fabric of a town before the railroad mode of transportation became prevalent guided much of the placement, unless geographically constrained. If the town was already of significant size the industry railheads would usually not come near the existing town center but rather would be diverted to spurs along the most apt heavy industry activities (waterways) or be restricted. Whereas, the passenger railheads would be very near a town center.

Versus, say, the towns that deliberately grew up due to the railroad right of way. Most of the cities pre-railroad were water transportation located (coastal, river way portage, commerce crossroads of exchange).

An interesting study is to look where the affluent of each time period of transportation 'age' moved to over time within a larger older metro market. It will show a pattern away from these heavy industries and their negative impacts on environment (nuisance, sanitation, smell etc).
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Old 07-10-2014, 07:04 AM
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
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Originally Posted by Those Who Squirm View Post
I'm sure nearly everyone here is familiar with the slightly quaint expression "wrong side of the tracks", used to denote the bad side of a town. But what I'd like to know is whether there was a consistent geographic rule that determined which side was bad. One might simply say it was determined simply by where the local aristocracy decided to build their houses; by default then, the other side was bad.
See bold. "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar".
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Old 07-11-2014, 10:08 PM
 
Location: Southern California
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Originally Posted by Those Who Squirm View Post
...

So was the wrong side of the tracks simply the "far" side?
The wrong side of the tracks is on the opposite side of where people who would use that term live.

[it's relative]
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