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Staten Island Railway

Staten Island Railway
SIR train at Great Kills station
Type Rapid transit
Status Operational
Locale Staten Island, New York City
Termini Tottenville (south)
St. George (north)
Stations 22
Services 1
Opening 1860
Owner Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Operator(s) Staten Island Rapid Transit Operating Authority (SIRTOA), a division of the NYCTA
Rolling stock 63 modified R44 cars
Line length Script error: No such module "convert".
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Minimum radius (?)
Electrification 600 V DC Third rail
Route map
Note: Ballpark station no longer served.

The Staten Island Railway (SIR) is the only rapid transit line in the New York City borough of Staten Island. Service on the line is provided 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Operated by the Staten Island Rapid Transit Operating Authority (SIRTOA), a unit of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, it is considered a standard railroad line, but only freight service which runs along the western portion of the North Shore Branch is connected to the national railway system.

SIR operates with modified R44 New York City Subway cars,[1] and is run by the New York City Transit Authority, an agency of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and operator of the New York City Subway. However, there is no direct rail link between the SIR and the subway system proper. SIR riders do get a free transfer to New York City Subway lines, and the line is included on official New York City Subway maps.[2] Commuters who use the railway typically use the Staten Island Ferry to reach Manhattan; the line is accessible from within the Ferry Terminal and most of its trains connect with the ferry.

The Staten Island Railway provides full-time local service between Saint George and Tottenville along the east side of the borough. There is currently no subway service offered for those residents living on the western or northern sides of the borough, but Staten Island light rail is planned for these corridors. The line has a route bullet similar to other subway routes: the letters SIR in a blue circle. It is used only on timetables and on the MTA's site, not on trains. The line runs 24 hours a day (from fall 2015 the overnight service will be 30 minutes headway [3]) and is one of only six mass-transit rail lines in the United States to do so (the others being the PATCO Speedline, the Red and Blue Lines of the Chicago 'L', the Green Line of the Minneapolis-St. Paul METRO, the PATH lines, and the New York City Subway).

On weekdays, express service to St. George is provided between 6:17 AM and 8:17 AM and to Tottenville from 7:06 AM to 8:06 AM and 4:31 PM to 7:51 PM. Morning express trains run non-stop between St. George and New Dorp; afternoon express trains run non-stop from St. George to Great Kills southbound only.[4] Express service is noted on trains by the presence of a red marker with the terminal and 'express' directly underneath it.



File:Staten Island Railway 1867.jpg
SIRT timetable, circa 1867

Until the completion of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in 1964, Staten Island's only direct connection to the rest of the city and state of New York was via ferries from St. George, at the north end of the island.[5]

In 1885 the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (B&O) purchased the Staten Island Rapid Transit Railway (SIRT), which had a short line of its own between Tompkinsville and Clifton on the northeast shore of Staten Island and leased the Staten Island Railway, a line from Clifton to Tottenville, at its southern tip. (The railway had been completed in 1860 and was one of Cornelius Vanderbilt's early properties.)[6] B&O's intention was to build freight and passenger terminals on Staten Island; purchase of SIRT gave B&O waterfront property on New York Bay. SIRT built a line west to the Arthur Kill Bridge in 1889 at the same time the Baltimore & New York Railroad (B&NY), another B&O subsidiary, constructed a connecting line from Cranford Junction on the Central Railroad of New Jersey. SIRT built a short line from Clifton to South Beach in 1892.[7]

In anticipation of a tunnel under the Narrows to Brooklyn and a connection there with the New York subway system at the Bay Ridge – 95th Street station, SIRT electrified its lines in 1925 using third rail power distribution and cars similar to those of the Brooklyn–Manhattan Transit Corporation (BMT).[8][9] The electrification brought no big increase in traffic, and the tunnel was never built.[10] The Baltimore & Ohio owned both the railway and the Staten Island Ferry.[11]

20th century operation

File:SIRT map.jpg
Staten Island Rapid Transit, 1952

The timetable from October 15, 1940 shows 248 trains leaving St George each weekday (Mon-Fri) with 80 to Tottenville, 4 to Great Kills, 82 to South Beach, 79 to Arlington and 3 to Port Ivory.

In 1944, SIRT purchased the property of the B&NY and merged it with the Staten Island Railway. In 1963, the railroad discontinued its ferry service between Tottenville and Perth Amboy Ferry Slip at Perth Amboy, New Jersey. The terminal at St. George was destroyed by fire in 1946 and a modern replacement terminal opened in 1951.

On July 1, 1948 the bus fare on Staten Island dropped from 5 cents per zone (20 cents Tottenville to the ferry) to 7 cents for the whole island, or 12 cents including a Manhattan subway ride. In 1947, SIRT carried 12.3 million passengers and the number started decreasing with 8.7 million in 1948 and 4.4 million in 1949.[12]

SIRT discontinued passenger service on the North Shore Branch to Arlington and the South Beach Branch to South Beach at midnight on March 31, 1953 because of city-operated bus competition; the South Beach branch was abandoned shortly thereafter while the Arlington branch continued to carry freight.[7]

On September 7, 1954, SIRT made an application to discontinue all passenger service on October 7th of the same year.[13]

In October 1957, four years after North Shore Branch passenger trains ended, a train from Washington crossed the Arthur Kill Vertical Lift Bridge carrying Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip to the Staten Island Ferry for a state visit.[14]

The last grade railroad crossings were eliminated by 1966, but SIRT continued to lose money even as they rebuilt stations between Jefferson Avenue and New Dorp almost into the 1970s. On January 1, 1970, New York City's lease of the St. George-Tottenville line was terminated; after that date the city reimbursed the railroad for its passenger deficits. On July 1, 1971 operation of the Tottenville line was turned over to the Staten Island Rapid Transit Operating Authority, a division of the state's Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and the line itself was purchased by the city of New York. In March 1973 new R44 cars — the same as the newest cars then in use on the subway lines in the other boroughs — were pressed into service on the Staten Island line, replacing the PS Standard rolling stock that had been inherited from the B&O and had remained in continuous service since 1925.[1][15][16]

Revenue passenger traffic, in millions of passenger-miles #REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
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Year Traffic
Source: ICC annual reports

Current use


Only the north-south Main Line is in passenger service. The terminal station at St. George provides a direct connection to the Staten Island Ferry. At St. George there are twelve tracks, only ten of which are presently used for service.[17] At Tottenville, there is a three track yard, with two tracks on either side of a concrete station platform.

The last passenger trains on both the North Shore and South Beach Branches ran on March 31, 1953. The right-of-way of the South Beach Branch was eventually de-mapped and the tracks have been removed.

In 2001, a small section of the easternmost portion of the North Shore Branch (a few hundred feet) was reopened to provide passenger service to the new Richmond County Bank Ballpark, home of the Staten Island Yankees minor-league baseball team; however, this service was discontinued in 2010. Plans to reopen the remainder of the North Shore Branch, to both freight and passenger service, are being studied, with one plan calling for the line to resume full operations between St. George and Arlington or Port Ivory,[18] with even the possibility of through service between Arlington/Port Ivory and Tottenville, which the aforementioned Ballpark wye makes feasible (this did not exist prior to the 1953 discontinuance of passenger service on the North Shore Branch).


The North Shore and Travis Branches saw freight service temporarily suspended beginning in 1991. Freight service along the Travis Branch and the westernmost portion of the North Shore Branch was restored by 2007. Along the remainder of the North Shore Branch, tracks and rail overpasses still exist in some places.

The railroad was changed to Staten Island Railroad Corporation in 1971. In 1985 Staten Island Railroad was purchased by the Delaware Otsego Corporation.[7] Freight traffic dropped off considerably, and the operation ceased in 1991.[19] The freight line connection from New Jersey to the Staten Island Railway was restored in late 2006, and is operated in part by the Morristown and Erie Railway under contract with the State of New Jersey and other companies.[20] The Arthur Kill Vertical Lift Bridge which transports trains from Staten Island to New Jersey over the Arthur Kill waterway was renovated in 2006 and began regular service on April 2, 2007, 16 years after the bridge closed.[21] A portion of the North Shore Line was rehabilitated, the Arlington Yard was expanded, and Script error: No such module "convert". of new track was laid along the Travis Branch to Fresh Kills.[22]

Soon after service restarted on the line, Mayor Michael Bloomberg officially commemorated the reactivation on April 17, 2007.[23] On behalf of the City of New York, the New York City Economic Development Corporation formed an agreement with CSX Transportation, Norfolk Southern Railway, and Conrail to provide service over the reactivated line to haul waste from the Staten Island Transfer Station and ship container freight from the Howland Hook Marine Terminal and other industrial businesses.

FRA oversight

Unlike PATH, SIR is not under FRA oversight,[24][25] except for the separate restored freight service. However their new signal system complies with the FRA and the NORAC book of rules regulations, and is very similar to the older railroad signal system inherited from the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (B&O) Company - the original and previous owners of this line, which do not have tripping devices and arms. Also the cab signaling on the R44's complies with same, since these cars do not have trip cocks, unlike their subway car cousins which are equipped with them for tripping the emergency brakes after passing red signals.



The MTA broke ground on a new, $15.3 million, ADA compliant station named Arthur Kill, near the southern terminus of the present line on October 18, 2013. The constructor is John P. Picone, Inc., which was awarded the contract July 31, 2013[26] It is sited between, and will replace both the Atlantic and Nassau stations, which are in the poorest condition of all the stations on the line.[27] The new station, which can platform a four-car train, is expected to open in 2015. MTA will also provide parking for 150 automobiles across the street.

There is also discussion of rebuilding a Rosebank station, which will bridge the longest gap between two stations (Grasmere and Clifton). A Rosebank station once existed on the now-defunct South Beach Branch of the railway.[28]

Rolling stock replacement

Elected officials on Staten Island have been demanding replacement of the Staten Island Railway's aging R44 cars. The New York City Subway's R211 order may have an option to replace the R44s. Until then, the R44s are undergoing another round of SMS to extend their usefulness until at least 2021.

Restoration of North Shore Branch

In an 2006 report, Staten Island Advance explored the restoration of passenger services on Script error: No such module "convert". of the North Shore Branch between St. George Ferry Terminal and Arlington station. Completion of the study is necessary to qualify the project for the estimated $360 million. A preliminary study found that ridership could hit 15,000 daily.[18] $4 million of federal funding was requested for a detailed feasibility study.

In 2012, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority released an analysis of transportation solutions for the North Shore, which included proposals for the reintroduction of heavy rail, light rail, or bus rapid transit using the North Shore line's right-of-way. Other options included transportation systems management which would improve existing bus service, and the possibility of future ferry and water taxi services. Bus rapid transit was the preferred for its cost and relative ease of implementation, which would require $352 million in capital investment. The analysis evaluated the alternatives according to their ability to "Improve Mobility", "Preserve and Enhance the Environment, Natural Resources and Open Space", and "Maximize Limited Financial Resources for the Greater Public Benefit". The project has yet to receive funding.[29]

Route characteristics

File:Staten Island Rapid Transit Police Patch.jpg
Staten Island Rapid Transit Police Patch

In general appearance, the current operating line of SIR looks somewhat like an outdoor line of the New York City Subway. Since the 1960s it has been grade separated from all roads, but it runs more or less at street level for a brief stretch north of Clifton, between the Grasmere and Old Town stations, and from south of the Pleasant Plains station to Tottenville, the end of the line. It uses NYC Transit-standard 600 V DC third rail power. Its equipment is specially modified subway vehicles, purchased at the same time as nearly identical cars for NYCT. Heavy maintenance of the equipment is performed at NYCT's Clifton Shops. Any work that cannot be performed at Clifton requires the cars to be trucked over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to the subway's Coney Island Complex shops in Brooklyn.[30]

The right-of-way also includes elevated, embankment and open-cut portions, and a tunnel near St. George.

Over the years there have been several proposals for connecting the SIR with the subway system (including the incomplete Staten Island Tunnel and a possible line along the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge), as it uses B Division-sized cars and loading gauge, but various economic, political, and engineering difficulties have prevented this from happening.[31][32]


The current head of Staten Island Railway is Frank Jezycki, who holds the position Vice President and Chief Officer since his appointment in August 2014.[33]

The hourly employee workforce of around 200 employees is represented by United Transportation Union Local 1440.[34]

Until June 2005, the Staten Island Railway had a 25-officer Railroad Police force known as the "Staten Island Rapid Transit Police". On June 1, 2005, they were merged into the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police creating the MTA Police District #9 which covered the Staten Island Railway.[35]


The cash fare stays consistent with the NYC subway fare and is $2.75. Fares are paid on entry and exit only at St. George and Tompkinsville. Rides not originating or terminating at St. George or Tompkinsville are free. Prior to the 1997 introduction of "one-fare zone"[36] that came along with free transfers from the SIR to the subway system and MTA buses by using the MetroCard, fares were collected by the conductors on the trains for passengers boarding at stops other than St. George.[16]

In the past, passengers often avoided paying the fare by exiting at Tompkinsville, and taking a short walk to the St. George ferry terminal. Because of this, the MTA installed turnstiles at Tompkinsville, along with a new stationhouse which opened on January 20, 2010.[37][38]

Fare is payable by MetroCard. Since this card enables free transfers for a continuing ride on the subway and bus systems, for many more riders there is effectively no fare at all for riding SIR. Riders are also allowed to transfer between a Staten Island bus, SIR, and a Manhattan bus or subway near South Ferry. Because of this, the SIR's farebox recovery ratio in 2001 was 0.16—that is, for every dollar of expense, 16 cents was recovered in fares, the lowest ratio of MTA agencies (part of the reason the MTA wishes to merge the SIR with the subway proper is to simplify the accounting and subsidization of what is essentially a single line).[39]


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Station service legend

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Stops all times Stops all times

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Station closed Future station

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Time period details
Stations Handicapped/disabled access Notes
Staten Island
Stops all times St. George Handicapped/disabled access Staten Island Ferry
Stops all times Tompkinsville
Stops all times Stapleton
Stops all times Clifton
Stops all times Grasmere
Stops all times Old Town
Stops all times Dongan Hills Handicapped/disabled access
Stops all times Jefferson Avenue
Stops all times Grant City
Stops all times New Dorp
Stops all times Oakwood Heights
Stops all times Bay Terrace
Stops all times Great Kills Handicapped/disabled access
Stops all times Eltingville
Stops all times Annadale
Stops all times Huguenot
Stops all times Prince's Bay
Stops all times Pleasant Plains
Stops all times Richmond Valley
Stops all times Nassau Will close in 2015
Station closed Arthur Kill Handicapped/disabled access To open in 2015
Stops all times Atlantic Will close in 2015
Stops all times Tottenville Handicapped/disabled access


  • Under four-car operation, the last car does not open at these stations:
    • At Clifton in St. George-bound trains because of a large gap between the platform and the rear car of the train.
    • At Grasmere due to construction.
    • At Richmond Valley in either direction.
  • Only one door opens at Atlantic and Nassau; the conductor leaves the cab and manually keys open a door.[27]
  • Nassau and Atlantic will close when Arthur Kill station opens.

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Clifton station

Former stations on closed lines

North Shore Branch

File:Bard Av SIRT jeh.JPG
The abandoned North Shore Branch. The Bayonne Bridge can be seen in the background.

The North Shore Branch closed to passenger service at midnight on Tuesday March 31, 1953. A small portion of the western end is used for freight service as part of the Howland Hook Marine Terminal transloading system called ExpressRail, which opened in 2007 and connects to the Chemical Coast after crossing over the Arthur Kill Vertical Lift Bridge. A smaller eastern portion provided seasonal service to the RCB Ballpark (where the Staten Island Yankees play) passenger station from 2001 to 2009. Restoration is being discussed along this mostly abandoned Script error: No such module "convert". line as part of the Staten Island light rail plan.[18]

Station List

Miles Name Opened Closed Notes
0 St. George July 31, 1884
0.1 RCB Ballpark June 24, 2001 June 18, 2010
0.7 New Brighton February 23, 1886 March 31, 1953
1.2 Sailors' Snug Harbor February 23, 1886 March 31, 1953
1.8 Livingston February 23, 1886 March 31, 1953
2.4 West Brighton February 23, 1886 March 31, 1953
3.0 Port Richmond February 23, 1886 March 31, 1953
3.4 Tower Hill February 23, 1886 March 31, 1953
3.9 Elm Park February 23, 1886 March 31, 1953
4.3 Lake Avenue 1937 March 31, 1953
4.6 Mariners Harbor Summer 1886 March 31, 1953
4.9 Harbor Road 1935 – 1937 March 31, 1953
5.2 Arlington Summer 1886 March 31, 1953
6.1 Port Ivory c.1950?

South Beach Branch

The South Beach Branch opened in 1886 and closed at midnight Tuesday March 31, 1953. It was abandoned and demolished except for three segments: a concrete embankment on on Saint John's Avenue, a trestle spanning Robin Road in South Beach, and a filled-in bridge which McClean Avenue crosses over.[40][41] This Script error: No such module "convert". line left the Main Line at 40°37′08″N 74°04′18″W / 40.61889°N 74.07167°W / 40.61889; -74.07167{{#coordinates:40|37|08|N|74|04|18|W|type:landmark_region:US-NY | |name= }}, south of the Clifton station, and lay to the east of the Main Line.

While the entire right of way has been redeveloped, most of the former right of way is still traceable on maps today. The Verrazano Narrows Bridge toll plaza sits on the former ROW.

The Robin Road Trestle is the only remaining intact trestle along the former line. In the early 2000s developers purchased the property on either side of the trestle's abutments, but the developers, the New York City Department of Transportation, and the New York City Transit Authority all claimed ownership of it. Consequently, townhouses have built up against both sides of it.[42][43][44][45]

Mount Loretto Spur

The Mount Loretto Spur is an abandoned branch of the Staten Island Railway whose purpose was to serve the Mount Loretto Children's Home. The spur diverged off of the Main Line south of Pleasant Plains.[46]

West Shore Line

The Tottenville-bound track south of Richmond Valley has a non-electrified spur that once ran all the way to the Arthur Kill. The spur was built in the mid 1920s and dubbed by the B&O as the West Shore Line. The B&O delivered building materials to the Outerbridge Crossing construction site near the Kill. There was also a small industry on the spur known as Roselli Bros. The track remains intact today all the way to Page Ave. The switch at the spur is well kept and working.[47][48][49][50][51][52][53][54][55][56][57]

Industries serviced

See also


  1. ^ a b "". 
  2. ^ "Subway Map" (PDF). Metropolitan Transportation Authority. September 2014. Retrieved 2014-10-07. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ "MTA Staten Island Railway Timetable, Effective June 15, 2014" (PDF). New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved 2015-01-02. 
  5. ^ Baxter, Raymond J.; Adams, Arthur G. (1999), Railroad Ferries of the Hudson and Stories of a Deckhand, Fordham University Press, ISBN 978-0-8232-1954-4 
  6. ^ Reynolds, Kirk; Oroszi, Dave, Baltimore and Ohio, ISBN 978-0-7603-2929-0 
  7. ^ a b c Drury, George H. (1994). The Historical Guide to North American Railroads: Histories, Figures, and Features of more than 160 Railroads Abandoned or Merged since 1930. Waukesha, Wisconsin: Kalmbach Publishing. pp. 312–314. ISBN 0-89024-072-8. 
  8. ^ "OPENS NEW SERVICE ON ELECTRIFIED LINE; Staten Island Marks End of Steam Locomotives on Perth Amboy Division. LYNCH LEADS CEREMONY Commends B. & O. for Prompt Action in Obeying the Law -- Galloway Asks Cooperation.". Flickr - Photo Sharing!. 
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ "Baltimore and Ohio to Operate on Staten Island". The New York Times. October 23, 1895. Retrieved July 14, 2011. 
  11. ^ For equipment roster, see "Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Co. Summary of Equipment No. 31, January 1, 1932," (1998, Trains and Stuff Ltd.).
  12. ^ Railway Age August 11, 1952
  13. ^ STATEN ISLAND LINE WOULD CEASE RUNS; Railway Renews Bid to End All Passenger Service -- Rejects Transit Unit Plan
  14. ^ Forgotten New York: Staten Island Railway
  15. ^ Peggy Darlington. "North Shore Line". Retrieved February 24, 2009. 
  16. ^ a b David Paul Gerber. "Staten Island Railway". Retrieved February 24, 2009. 
  17. ^ David Paul Gerber. "Main Line". Retrieved December 3, 2011. 
  18. ^ a b c Yates, Maura; Helsel, Phil (July 12, 2008). "Reality check for Staten Island's rail plans". Retrieved February 24, 2009. 
  19. ^ "Arthur Kill Railroad Lift Bridge". Retrieved February 24, 2009. 
  20. ^ "New Jersey short line to operate county-owned lines". July 8, 2002. Retrieved March 7, 2009. 
  21. ^ "New York City welcomes back Staten Island Railroad". April 19, 2007. Retrieved March 7, 2009. 
  22. ^ "NYCEDC – About Us – Our Projects – Completed Projects – Staten Island Railroad Reactivation". Retrieved March 7, 2009. [dead link]
  23. ^ "Mayor Bloomberg Officially Reactivates the Staten Island Railroad" (Press release). New York City Mayor's Office. April 17, 2007. Retrieved January 28, 2010. 
  24. ^ "U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration: Exploring How to Make System Safety Work in Transit; Page 1" (PDF). Retrieved September 22, 2011. 
  25. ^ "Federal Railroad Administration: Passenger Rail; Chapter 1". Retrieved September 22, 2011. 
  26. ^ "It's official: New Staten Island Railway access for Tottenville". 
  27. ^ a b "Groundbreaking for New MTA Staten Island Railway Arthur Kill Station in Tottenville". Metropolitan Transportation Authority. October 18, 2013. 
  28. ^ DAnna, Ed A. (May 15, 2008). "A rail station for Rosebank?". Staten Island Advance. Retrieved January 28, 2010. 
  29. ^ MTA - Planning Studies. (September 9, 2009). Retrieved on 2014-06-23.
  30. ^ "Coney Island Complex". Retrieved February 24, 2009. 
  31. ^ "DC: A Tunnel from SI to Brooklyn?". 
  32. ^ Kuntzman, Gersh (November 10, 2007). "Fidler's folly: Let's tunnel to SI!". The Brooklyn Paper. Retrieved January 23, 2010. 
  33. ^ Retrieved March 6, 2015.
  34. ^ UTU Local 1440 website. Retrieved March 6, 2015.
  35. ^ MTA Staten Island Railway 2006 Preliminary Budget July Financial Plan 2006-2009
  36. ^ "Mayor's Message". June 29, 1997. Retrieved December 5, 2011. 
  37. ^ S.I. Railway to Close Walking Loophole
  38. ^ "Fare-saving walk now less of a bargain for Staten Island commuters". 
  39. ^ "MTA to merge agencies into five companies". October 11, 2002. Retrieved March 7, 2009. 
  40. ^ "Gary Owen’s S.I.R.T. South Beach Line Page". Retrieved March 7, 2009. 
  41. ^ "Gary Owen’s S.I.R.T. South Beach Line Page". p. 2. Retrieved March 7, 2009. 
  42. ^ Staten Island Railway.
  43. ^ Arrochar and South Beach: In the Shadow of the 'Zano.
  44. ^ Permission to dream.
  45. ^ Gary Owen’s S.I.R.T South Beach Line Page: Part Two.
  47. ^ "". 
  49. ^ "Showing Image 59084". 
  50. ^ "Showing Image 59087". 
  51. ^ "Showing Image 59086". 
  52. ^ "Showing Image 59085". 
  53. ^ "Showing Image 36460". 
  54. ^ "Showing Image 36461". 
  55. ^ "Showing Image 36464". 
  56. ^ "Showing Image 36458". 
  57. ^ "Showing Image 115367". 

External links