New York - 1st Floor Layout 1 - 1941-1945
Small 3-rail Layout

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First floor layout 1941

This layout was built for the opening of the New York Hall of Science in 1941 and stayed there for several years up until just prior to the end of the war.  The illustration of this layout shown below is from page 31 of The Roar of the Rails booklet that was published during the war years (It is dated 1944) to keep interest in railroad modeling alive despite the absence of new model train products due to wartime restrictions.  This layout was distinguished by its wood cutout and layered trees, which can be seen in the layout photo above.  Click here to view them in larger size.

The First Layout  -  Illustration courtesy of Lonny Beno

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The full page from The Roar of the Rails (1944) - Illustration courtesy of Lonny Beno

The track plan below is my attempt to approximate the track plan of the first layout which occupied the first floor of the Gilbert Hall of Science between its opening in 1941 and 1945.  It is based on the photos above.

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Download the RRtrack file of this track plan for use with your copy of RRtrack software

The S gauge track library was used even though the layout was 3 rail O gauge.  This was done for the reason that American Flyer O gauge track used the same 40 inch diameter curves as American Flyer S gauge.  The closest Lionel 3 rail track would have been the O42 library.  The size of the layout was estimated by expanding the layout size to fit the required interior tracks.  The final size came out at approximately 8 x 16 feet, which is similar to the size of other large Gilbert display layouts. I hope to obtain photos of this layout at a later date. Note the area at the upper left corner where a "Gilbert Factory," complete with port holes, was used to cover the transformers and controls for the layout.

Based on Bruce Manson’s articles cited below, 1 2 the layout occupied the 1st floor from the opening of the Hall of Science until the second layout, discussed in the next section, was built.  That second layout was initially constructed as a 3 rail O gauge layout and the best estimate of its construction places it in 1945, toward the end of World War II.


1 The Gilbert Hall of Science, by Bruce Manson, with Maury Romer - Train Collector's Quarterly, Fall 1980, Vol. 26, No. 5, page 11 at page 13  Link to this issue and article in the TCQ (available to TCA members only)

2 The Gilbert Hall of Science - Update and Then Some, by Bruce Manson - Train Collector's Quarterly, October 1992, Vol. No. 5, page 28 at page 29  Link to this issue and article in the TCQ (available to TCA members only)