28.10.05

Days Three and Four: San Juan


San Juan, Puerto Rico
Originally uploaded by Zakcq.
Day three it was my mission to go and see the new Tren Urbano that just started operation. I got a bus to Sagrado Corozon in Hato Rey to meet up with the train. Along the way, the bus passed though the Miramar, the neighborhood that is right across the lagoon from Condado. I didn’t get off, but it looked way cooler. Next trip.

The Tren Urbano is the first of three planed subway lines in San Juan. Unless I’m mistaken, it’s the first heavy rail line to be built in “America” since the Metro in DC and the BART in San Francisco were built in the 60’s. Students from MIT planned it, at least in part. Unfortunately, the construction ran waaaaay over budget and years late. Who knows if they’ll find the money for the other lines.

The stations and the trains were great, but they were really empty. It was a Sunday, I guess, but it probably also has something to do with the price of tickets being 500% more then the buses. They also had heavily armed guards on all the platforms. You defiantly got the feeling that they were trying to exclude certain classes. The trains were Siemens and were pretty wide, bigger then NY and Boston. I think they were about the same as the S-bahns in Berlin.

I started by taking the train to the University of Puerto Rico to visit the museum of anthropology, but it was closed (misread the guidebook). I wandered about the campus for a while, which was really nice. I then wandered into the Rio Piedras neighborhood, which adjoined the campus. It reminded me of Spanish Harlem. There was a small market going on which I shopped at for a while but then it started raining.

I decided to take the train out to the end of the line, both because I like trains and because my map said there was a mall, and I was almost done with my book. A lot of the train stations were really nice, with good public art. They had both elevated and underground stations, as well as recessed ones (sunken into the ground but not covered). They also had several stations that used really dense greenery instead of walls. I thought that was pretty cool.

The mall was like malls everywhere, but without a bookstore. Actually, the only book I could find was the latest Oprah book (belch). They had a movie theater though, and since it was midday and the heat was getting bad I watched Wallace and Gromit. Not Bad, but not my favorite movie ever.

I took my time getting back to Old San Juan and then did a bit of shopping. It was my last night, so I had to go out for good food, so I settled on an Indian-Caribbean fusion place. It was really good. I had some kind of Indian chicken, but using Caribbean fruit and spices. mmmm.

Day four I took the bus out to Ocean Park (another ritzy Atlantic bordering neighborhood) to transfer to the bus to the airport. I had a little time to walk around. It was better then Condado, but still not great. I then flew back. The End.

4 comments:

Driver2165 9:22 PM  

Hasn't NYC built a few new lines in the last 30 years? If they haven't, they've at least renamed them for no apparent reason. I also don't know how old Miami's is, but I wanna say it's not too old.

Wallace and Gromit was alright I though. A few parts made me laugh very loud (embarassing bethany on the plane ride home). Have you seen their other films?

onetenchelsea 9:58 PM  

Yeah, a few cities added lines, Boston actually moved a line about a mile to take it away from the black people. but i thought that no one had done a new system. That's what i meant.

You're right about Miami. 1984. I always forget they have one. It is just one line though. I also just saw that Baltamore has heavy rail line that started in 1983 and I had forgotten that the red line in LA is heavy rail in 1993 (although in both cases there were lightrail systems that had already existed).

Cleveland was in 1959. Montreal in 1966. BART in 1972. Metro in 1974.

Driver2165 10:47 PM  

Do you have a list of these or are you googling?

I forgot about baltimore too. They keep running trains into the bump post at the airport.

How about Atlanta? That was 70s? Or maybe later.

onetenchelsea 9:25 AM  

atlanta is 79. i always thought they had lightrail, but i guess it's both.

i'm looking at urbanrail.net

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