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Details for Benchmark: KU1416

N 40° 45.567 W 073° 57.700 (NAD 83)

Altitude: 57.78

Coordinates may not be exact. Altitude is ADJUSTED and location is SCALED. (more info)

In NEW YORK county, NY View Original Datasheet
Marker Type:
NGS Benchmark
setting not listed - see description
Probably hold position/elevation well.

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Might as well join in the discussion . I found the mark on the west side of 1st Avenue, which looks like it should be the A mark. There is absolutely no trace of the B mark on the corresponding column on the east side of the street.

Given that the two marks were made at the same time, on the same material, in the same location, and that neither mark was protected from the elements more than the other, I'm surprised that the A mark would still be easily visible, while the B mark would have disappeared without a trace. Both marks would have been high enough off of the ground that they were not likely to have been destroyed by human action, and it would have been unlikely that, over the years, one mark would have been selectively destroyed while one would survive. I've seen marks chiseled in bluestone that have disappeared over a century, but granite should be much more durable.

It's also curious that the coordinates for the B mark are identical to those of 1670 BOM which is on the west column, with both marks having coordinates listed on their NGS datasheets to the tenth of a second, which is about 10 feet. The east column is much more than 10 feet away from the west column, so if the B mark were on the east column, it should have coordinates that are a little different from those of 1670 BOM. The A and B benchmarks also have the identical elevation to 1/100 of a foot - 1/8 of an inch - in their original description.

Is it possible that there was only one mark established, even though there are two entries in the original description? That would explain why only one mark was included in the NGS database. Or, is it possible that the marks were accidentally "switched at birth?"

I was here on my trip to New York !


I seem to revisit this bench mark (both literally and in my mind) every few years, and I have recently found some new information (actually very old information) that bears on the issue.

I downloaded a copy of Special Publication No. 83 (1922) published by the Coast and Geodetic Survey. The publication is titled [i]Tidal Bench Marks State of New York[/i]. It contains descriptions and elevations of nearly 2000 stations established by many agencies along the harbors and rivers of New York, many of them going back to the 19th century.

Here is the link for the NOAA site where these publications can be found: [url=]CGS Special Publications[/url]

And here is the link for this particular document: [url=]Special Publication No. 83[/url]

I cut and pasted the Title Page and uploaded it as the first photo.

In reading over the list I found many marks which became NGS stations and many that did not. Of interest here, I found on page 111, two marks (No. 1140 and 1141) which were set on on the Queensboro Bridge on opposite sides of First Avenue by the USE, namely "B.M. A (U.S.E.)" on the west side of the street, and "B.M. B (U.S.E.)" on the east side. Aside from using the convention - which almost all New Yorkers follow - of referring to the east and west side of the street, instead of the rather pedantic southeast and northwest (since the street grid tilts slightly to the east), the description of No. 1141, "B.M. B (U.S.E.)" is none other than this station.

I cut and pasted the descriptions of these two marks and uploaded it as the second photo.

The relevant points are:

There were similar marks set on the bridge on both sides of the street.
"B.M. B (U.S.E.)" was definitely on the east side.


This station is in fact located as described in the original description, not on the other side of the street.
BDT and others including myself actually found "B.M. A (U.S.E)" on the west side of the street. This is not this station and did not make it into the NGS database.
I still can't find this station after looking in the correct spot. I can only conclude that it's been lost to years of erosion of the surface. The other one (which we found) has fared slightly better.

One other interesting point is that these original descriptions refer to the mark as a "W", not a "double Y". This may have been a misreading of the original field notes, or vice versa. We'll never know.

I have submitted a [i]Not Found[/i] log to the NGS and included the information from [i]Special Publication No. 83[/i].

[This entry was edited by Papa-Bear-NYC on Wednesday, February 18, 2009 at 1:24:55 PM.]

photoSpecial Publication No. 83 Title Page
photoB.M. A (USE) and B.M B (USE)
Original descriptions of the two marks.

I’ve been thinking about this station for quite a while, I have visited and revisited the site probably half a dozen times, and I finally decided that I probably didn’t find it after all, so [b]I have changed my log of 9/25/2005 from FOUND to NOT FOUND[/b].

Although there is discrepency in the mark we found and what the NGS description says (what we found is on the “wrong” side of the street), I was persuaded, as were others, that this was the correct mark for 2 reasons:

1) The mark has a unique configuration (a double “Y”).

2) The discrepency in the description could be explained as a single typo.

I now believe both of these assumptions were wrong.

[b]The Mark Configuration[/b]

The description describes the mark as “the space between a double Y …”. The mark we found has what appears to be 2 Ys cut at right angles with the ends of the stems coming to a point. There is no “space between a double Y” in this configuration, but rather a single point. Before seeing the mark, I thought it would be a square, where the two Ys would face each other at the tops so that you would basically get a square with two tails going off from opposite corners.

It would appear that the NOS, which keeps a database of Tidal Bench Marks (which this is) separate from the NGS database, came to the same conclusion. See [url=,%20NY&type=Bench%20Mark%20Data%20Sheets]Queensboro Bridge Tidal Station[/url], bench mark VM# 16283. It has “Monumentation: Chiseled Square”.

Furthermore, I found some marks on the opposide side of First Avenue which had one and possibly two Ys cut in a similar corner of the abutment in a similar manner. See the photos of this other stone surface where I found this similar cutting of Ys. The point of this "find" is not to say I found KU1416 by the supermarket (I'm sure I didn't), but that this configuration of cuts is not all that unique after all. So what are the Ys? I would speculate that they may be marks used by the stone masons for alignment when the structure was built, but your guess is as good as mine.

[b]The Discription discrepensies[/b]

I was pursuaded that there was a simple discrepency in the description which might be explained as a typo. That is: 13.3 FEET [u]SOUTHEAST OF SOUTHEAST CURB[/u] OF 1ST AVENUE was meant to be 13.3 FEET [u]NORTHWEST OF NORTHWEST CURB[/u] OF 1ST AVENUE (same as KU1415).

However, upon a careful reading of the desciption, there are 3 discrepencies:

1) The direction from the First Avenue curb (given above).

2) The orientation of the corner of the abutment: the description says WEST CORNER, what we found is on the SOUTH CORNER.

3) The distance from the East 59th Street curb: the descriprtion says 73 FEET NORTHEAST OF NORTHEAST CURB OF EAST 59TH STREET. Our observed mark is 63 1/2 FEET NORTHEAST OF NORTHEAST CURB OF EAST 59TH STREET (same as KU1415).

Now number 2) might be a typo also, but that would make 2 typos.

Number 3) at first seems incredible. After all, the arch goes straight across First Avenue, so the two sides must be the same distance from the 59th Street curb. But If you go over to 59th Street and look at the curbs, you will see that they DO NOT LINE UP! If you measure them, you will find that the curb on the easterly section of the street is indeed about 10 feet further from the bridge than the curb on the westerly section on other side of First Avenue! Check out the last photo. My conclusion is that this 3rd discrepency could not be a typo, and they could not have just made up a distance.

They are really saying the mark is on the southeast side of First Avenue, not over with KU1415.

[b]Bottom line: the mark is really where they say it is, not where we thought it was, and alas, I did not find it.[/b]

[This entry was edited by Papa-Bear-NYC on Friday, May 19, 2006 at 3:30:55 PM.]

photoKU1416 NOT FOUND, Queensboro Bridge NYC
View of the abutment on the southeast side of First Avenue where the supermarket is located. This is the opposite side of First Avenue from what we found. Suspicious marks were found at the marked location on the corner of the abutment. Note: this is not KU1416.
photoKU1416 NOT FOUND, Queensboro Bridge NYC
View of the corner from the easterly side. Note: this is not KU1416. I would speculate that the marks may be have been used by the stone masons for alignment when the structure was built.
photoKU1416 NOT FOUND, Queensboro Bridge NYC
View of the corner from the southerly side. I would speculate that the marks may be have been used by the stone masons for alignment when the structure was built. Note: this is not KU1416.
photoKU1416 NOT FOUND, Queensboro Bridge NYC
View across First Avenue facing westerly. Note that the curbs do not line up, and the curb on the easterly side of the avenue (where the camera is) is about 10 feet further from the bridge abutment.

5th of 6 this morning while out for a run. Not easy to spot, but previous photos helped.

[b]Edit 5/15/2005): I changed my mind on this and decided it was a NOT FOUND for me. See note above. My original log from 9/25/2005 follows.[/b]

I agree with Black Dog Trackers that the mark is at the SW rampart of the arch, not the SE as documented. I checked all 4 corners of the arch and the SW one definately has the mark. But it is very hard to see due to the roughness of the granite and the lighting.

The so-called "double-Y" consist of two letters "Y" engraved at right angles to each other in the corner of the top granite pedestal such that the stems of the Ys meet at a point just under the corner of the ovelying granite block. The actual surrveyors point is covered with moter.

In these photos, the view was with my back to First Avenue. The corner is shown. The right "Y" is easier to see, it goes vertically in towards the inside point. It takes up about 1/3 of the width of the stone. The left "Y" goes horizontally to the same point, it's stem is easier to see than the V part of the "Y". The photos were taken in sunlight. Black Dog Trackers were taken at night with artificial light which might help outline the marks because of the oblique direction of the light which brings out greater shadowing.

[This entry was edited by Papa-Bear-NYC on Monday, May 15, 2006 at 12:24:08 PM.]

photoKU1416 "B USE", 59th & First, NYC
See log entry
photoKU1416 "B USE" closeup, 59th & First, NYC
See log entry
photoKU1416 setting, 59th & First, NYC
The SW corner butress of the arch
photoKU1416 arch, 59th & First, NYC
The arch over First Avenue from 59th Street

Black Dog Trackers was right! The double Y is very faint, but it is there.

Reviewing Black Dog Tracker's photos, his do show a definite Double Y. I searched the other side of 1st Avenue, and found some marks.

photoProbably not the Double Y
N 40° 45.592 W 073° 57.717

This benchmark was found. The description should be changed to:

13.3 FEET northwest OF northwest CURB OF 1ST AVENUE

The double-Y mark is quite unique and there was no such mark on the other (SE) side of 1st Avenue.

A small step-up onto the first ledge of the abutment is needed in order to see the mark well.


2009 Edit: I agree with Papa-Bear-NYC that the mark found and pictured here is actually tidal bench mark "A USE", which is not included in the NGS (or this) database. Therefore, this log for "B USE" is changed from Found it to Didn't find it. The actual location of "B USE" was searched in 2004 and a double-Y was not found there.

[This entry was edited by Black Dog Trackers on Friday, January 23, 2009 at 4:55:57 PM.]

[This entry was edited by Black Dog Trackers on Friday, January 23, 2009 at 4:57:30 PM.]

photoAt station B USE in New York, New York
The purple arrow points to the location of the double-Y station mark. The lower yellow arrow points to KU1415. The view is looking NE along 1st Avenue.
photoStation B USE in New York, New York
The double-Y station mark. This picture was difficult to take at night and required a time exposure.

Documented History (by the NGS)

01/01/1952 by NGS (GOOD)

Control Text

  • The horizontal coordinates were scaled from a topographic map and have an estimated accuracy of +/- 6 seconds.
  • The orthometric height was determined by differential leveling and adjusted by the National Geodetic Survey in June 1991.
  • The geoid height was determined by GEOID99.
  • The dynamic height is computed by dividing the NAVD 88 geopotential number by the normal gravity value computed on the Geodetic Reference System of 1980 (GRS 80) ellipsoid at 45 degrees latitude (g = 980.6199 gals.).
  • The modeled gravity was interpolated from observed gravity values.

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