Jim’s been in touch with his 1950s HO scale model railroad:
This e-mail is as much a thank you to you and to the folks who contribute to your blog as it is an opportunity to share some information about my layout.
I started this layout when I retired and unlike many of the folks who contribute here, I did not have a layout as a young man. Growing up in a NYC apartment, well , there was just so much room.
A friend of mine retired a few years back and starting sending me e-mails of a layout he had started. I was intrigued.
But, I found the idea of doing a layout on my own and being an electrician, a carpenter, a modeler, an artist etc. to be overwhelming.
With my friend’s encouragement and with all the wonderful information I was able to gather from the contributors on your blog, I forged ahead.
It did not take long for me to realize that it was really the scenery I enjoyed that is, creating the scene, building the buildings, laying out the street grid etc. Hence, my “railroad” itself is a humble trolley oval.
I learned that many modelers attempt to recreate their childhood home. Being no different, I created a New York City neighborhood circa 1950’s I thank the good people of Pittsburgh for allowing me to use their downtown as my backdrop.
But then again, imagination is what model railroading is all about. I have attached photos.
I hope you will enjoy them.
A big thanks to Jim – love the detail. His layout has bags of charm and what a theme, your childhood!
That’s all for today folks.
Please do keep ’em coming.
And if today is the day you get started on your layout, just like Jim did, the Beginner’s Guide is here.
PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.
Jim … l really love your set up here. That was the thing that kind of slowed me down from recently (now retired) to build a lay out. Back when a kid, I loved trains, then as I got older and Aurora created Model Motoring, with cars moving on tracks, trains kind of took a back seat. I always thought about trying to integrate both a car track with train track, but am missing one valuable piece from that dream … a car track section with an HO train section crossover. So searching for years for that piece, was my excuse to delay my layout. But besides cars, (still top of my collections) I loved the scenery. I mean who wants to see a 4’x8′ layout of a forest, and a bike trail? Your layout, speaks to me, tells me to save room, in case I find that missing piece of train / car track, that I could integrate them … but build the scenic aspect … that will suffice and carry it’s own fascination and weight … on it’s own. Great Job!
I have been to New York, but not in 1948 or earlier The scenery looks really authentic.Good work
Indeed the scenery does look authentic and the bonus for me is the population. So many layouts have left people out but this layout really comes to grip that people are always around – great.
Terrific detail work! Impressive!
Good job on New York set-up, but NOT much on the railroad itself or any elevated trans which I would have been interested in.
The layout looks fantastic. Especially the amount of figures. At first glance I thought it was real. Spacing is dead on too. I’d love to see a video with the trains running!!!
I love your layout. Having grown up in Queens and now living on Staten Island, your scenery is typical NYC. Great job!
Wow Love this ! In my 73 years I’ve yet to do a trolley line though in my younger years they interested most. Still intriguing I must say. And trolley lines are generally simple, they fit into their surrounding which you have captured so well.
Very nice layout, reminds me of the Bronx where I grew up.
I like the subway entrance and the crowd and kids playing
stick ball in the streets. One thing the
police cars of the day were Black and White and Green,
they went to Blue and White while I was in the service
sometime in the 70’s.
Jim that is truly one of the most stunning displays I’ve seen …anywhere . Amazing detail in every aspect , the people , the cars , the buildings. Those are the most realistic buildings I’ve seen . You have certainly done a stellar job . The trains going round are always keen but as you have determined building the scene and brining it all to life with character snd structure is what grabs the viewer , and the modeler alike.
That is an amazing layout … oh yeah , you’re welcome for the backdrop … I’m from Pittsburgh.
Good job. I like how you made the roadways nice and wide. Too many folks make their roads too narrow that there’s no way two cars could pass safely. Yours look like actual city streets. And the population on your sidewalks really helps too.
Even though not one train was shown i thoroughly enjoyed the ride through town. Remined me of my home town in the mid 50’s.Very nostalgic.
Fabulous job JIm
Wow…that could be a movie set!Awesome workmanship.You have a gift ,my friend!👍👍
I was growing up during the 50’s and was in the city many times shopping with my parents. The scenes are just right as I remember the neighborhoods. The detail with the people, trucks, etc is superior. You have done a fantastic job and hope that some day our layout will be preserved for future generations to see how NYC ;looked in the best times ever. Great job and many thanks. You are a real craftsman.
Really nice detail. I grew up in NYC in the 50s &60s, and I loved the little anachronisms like the NY Giants sign, the A&P supermarket, etc.
Wonderful! I am also setting up a 50s Era display.
I often wish I grew up in the 50s. Seems like an easier, more peaceful time.
What a great job! You’ve really captured the East Coast feel in your scenes and the people-activity! Quite the feel of the hustle & bustle of city life. If you haven’t already fitted the scenes with LED lighting, retrofitting the layout for nighttime lighting might be a rewarding and very do-able next layer of sophistication!
Best to you!
Great work, I too love working on scenery and creating scenes. Small scenes make such a big difference.
Lived there at that time – I can almost smell it as I look through the pictures and remember…
That is an astonishing inventory of buildings, people & cars placed artistically to represent a busy NYC residential neighborhood. You can almost hear the constant sounds of kids playing, people hollering, traffic & noise of activity. Remember the smell of the A&P, candy stores, Cafe, & the neighborhood in general. Wow you did it. The cars are awesome-great collection here.
Please give us a glimpse of the entire layout and a little history of the numerous buildings you built. It looks like they were kits and very well done. Thanks.
Big Al- Thanks
JIM—outstanding and fantastic!!
ORION–If your still looking for that rr/slot car crossing, I have one somewhere in my junk box that I’ll give you. Contact me at asoundbite on yahoo.
Congratulations on a beautiful piece of modeling Jim- excellent detail and weathering and the people bring it to life. Keep up the great work!
Were any car windows broke during the stick ball game in the street? I live the Era you captured.
(Orion) slot car RR crossings are on Ebay.
Great job, details are amazing. As mentioned would love to see an elevated train line.
Excellent job. The scenes are so realistic. It must have taken a lot of patience to build this layout.
Jim, Absolutely Fantastic!!! I am in awe of your craftsmanship and attention to detail!!!
Hey,, not enough Studebakers. I had to find something to pick with on this wonderful layout. I’m almost 80 and this is right on. BTW, I grew up in Detroit but married a girl born in Brooklin.
Fantastic Capture of History of NYC in the 1950’s,,, echo’s similar scenes all across the urban landscape of the East Coast of the USA… I grew up during that period of time,… thru the early 1970’s… Used to go on Photography Trips by train on the N.H. RR from Bridgeport RR Station to Grand Central Station. Took City Subways to get around the City taking tons of color slides… This captures how it was back then… a much Peaceful & Prosperous time and everyone got along well. Sad, a Lot of the famous places are no longer there. The Old Yankee Stadium, The Old Metropolitan Opera House, a Lot of the Piers and Warehouses around Manhattan that were served by all the major east coast railroads, torn down, gone. The Scenes you created come alive with all the detail you put in,, the Period Cars (Where did you find them?) the People in the scenes brought it to life as well as the Period Signs… Just Great…Hope to see next one with a running train included. Remembered the EL running above the City Streets… I road the Complete System with my friend back in the 1970’s before a large segment was torn down. ~ Mike in N.H., U.S.A.
I remember those days clearly and you have captured the feel of them very well. Nice effort. Looks great. Rob McCrain
very nice. i love the old cars.
Jim…….great job…..love the detail and love how you weathered your streets and roads. Great detail made for a great layout.
Thank you Jim. Being a child of the 50’s you brought back some wonderful memories. Love the A&P sign. Rob Green
Hello Jim, Wonderful layout and so detailed it makes my head spin. Your attention to detail and knack for storytelling is mighty impressive. I think of our layouts as a stage and it’s our ability to capture the viewer and draw them in which makes a fine model. I’d like to hear how you managed to create such excellent street surfaces. I’m just beginning my latest urban train set and I’m including a street car figure eight.
Thank you for your devotion to our craft and for sharing.
Probably the nicest sets I have ever seen. Bought me back to the good old days when I lived in da Bronx
I noticed that Jim’s church on the layout is 0/027 gauge, which makes it larger,
like a big cathedral would be like in New York.
I did the Exact thing on my layout, with the same, exact 0/027 church model!
I love what he created!
Absolutely beautiful city modeling layouts. I echo the many positives that others have pointed out. I really enjoyed the city photo tour! Great job!!!
Superb job. Your attention to detail and scenery are second to none. Looks like your population is greater than mine and I’m around 200 on my layout. Again sir excellent work!
Nicely done. Truly appreciate your camera work and the lighting to bring so much realism to your scenes and highlight so much detail. Thanks for sharing.
Born in Brooklyn NY. The layout brings back great memories of my youth in the 1950’s as a teen. This is just how I remembered I remembered. Thanks for the memories
When are you going yo get some trains to go with all those people?Al S
Superb modelling Jim, I loved the scenes
Andrew in Oz
Great artistry and realism.
Grew up in Queens at the time.
Thankyou for sharing.
Fantastic layout. Love all the detail. Makes you feel
Like you’re living that era. There is so much to see. Great inspiration. I’m just starting my layout and wanted to model the late 50’s myself.
Being from Baltmore and raised there in the 50s and 60s I could have been down there playing on those streets. Thanks Jim
A real city with real people, doing what real people do (shopping at the local stores, playing, getting married etc.!
Lots and lots of traffic.
Oh by the way there is a railroad that serves the need of all those people and businesses!
Also appreciated that the theme carried into the background (even around the corners)!!
Great work!, I’ve been to NYC a few times. All you need to add is more trash in on the sidewalks & streets to really make it real.
loved the amount of people ties your city scene together
Nice work Jim – that’s a busy old neighbourhood.
Best to all!
Brian, Wokingham, UK.
Wow! Awesome layout with the buildings galore (most probably from kits) and so many of them. You are a model craftsman for all of us model railroaders. Having arthritis in my hands is a disability for me, especially in my fingers, so I can’t do kits. Gets quite expensive to buy them fully assembled, but that would be my outcome. Good job!
Jim: Absolutely outstanding detail. Although it is New York. Many aspects remind of growing up in Boston. Thanks for the memories.
I was expecting to see trains going through city scenes, but what I saw was beautiful photos of suburban city life. absolutely beautiful modeling. Each scene telling it’s own story with all the people. I’m glad I didn’t see any trains. I’m from Pittsburgh and it’s been so long since I’ve been there, I wouldn’t recognize any thing on the backdrop Matter of fact I was so intrigued by all the detail in each photograph, I didn’t notice there was a back drop.