TRAINS HAVE barreled down the tracks behind R-Way Gasket & Supply day and night for decades, past the prostitutes parked with johns out front and the man who took a bullet to the head while he polished hubcaps at the car wash next door.

The building on Sedgley Avenue near Frankford shakes when the trains come, employee Will Puchalski said, and in the neighborhood he couldn't name, people simply have gotten used to them.

"It's really no man's land around here," he said through a gate at the garage yesterday afternoon. "This is the middle of nowhere."

The same could be said for the millions of rail passengers who barely noticed the gritty blocks of bricks and rust and wires below them while they blurred past the landscape with their eyes closed or on their phones or anywhere but out the window.

That all changed Tuesday night, when Amtrak Train 188 sped past R-Way and derailed along a curve a few seconds later, killing at least seven passengers and sending hundreds of others bloodied and into the surrounding streets of Frankford. By yesterday morning, the "middle of nowhere" had been thrust into an international spotlight, making the Frankford section of the city the surreal "somewhere" every news outlet wanted to be.

"We saw Ashleigh Banfield from CNN," said Joe Yeager, who spent hours walking up and down Frankford Avenue with his brother.

Although some news reports placed the scene of the crash in Port Richmond, a Philadelphia neighborhood map created by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission puts it squarely in Frankford. Still, almost no one along Frankford Avenue could agree on that.

At Frankford Avenue where Wheatsheaf Lane becomes Pike Street, where 100 or so television cameras sat pointed toward the tracks all day, locals variously called the neighborhood Frankford, Harrowgate, Port Richmond, Bedrock, Juniata Park, Kensington and "The Villages" with a few combinations of "upper" and "lower" thrown in.

"It's just called 'Frankford Ave.' That's where I tell people I live," said Zoraida Cruz, who watched from a porch swing as a CBS affiliate interviewed U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey on her front yard.

Cruz said the news crew had been in her yard since 3 a.m. yesterday. They paid her husband, but she wouldn't say how much.

Next door, Bob Ledden sat in his yard drawing a picture of the train wreck with colored pencils, a handgun holstered to his hip. Ledden, 53, said he saw a blue flash that seemed "5 miles high" when the train crashed.

"We saw someone who asked us to help find their finger," said Ledden, who also is missing a finger from a forklift accident.

Sharon Triszczuk, 48, who lives on Glenwood Avenue across from the tracks, still recalls the day she moved in years ago and counted all the trains that passed.

"It must have been 100, honestly," she said, waiting for a press briefing by Mayor Nutter. "Eventually, it didn't even faze me anymore."

At the nearby Pete's Clown House Restaurant at Frankford Avenue and Pike Street, reporters, cameramen and producers mingled with regulars hobbling in on canes and blue-collar workers getting takeout. A waitress named Erin, sporting a necklace that said "Bitch" and a shamrock tattoo that said "Jim," served them coffee and cheeseburgers and orders of French toast.

Owner Ron Bordone decided to stay open past his usual 2 p.m. closing time.

"Blondie, can you stay?" he asked another waitress.

Bordone, like many others in the neighborhood, said he played on the railroad tracks as a kid. One man recalled picking blackberries with his grandmother in the brush that grew beside the tracks as a boy.

Bordone said people used to walk on a footbridge over the tracks, but it become dilapidated and was shut down.

It gave people less of a reason to go near the tracks and made it easier to forget them, he said.

"After a while, you don't even notice the trains," Bordone, 50, said from behind the counter. "They just come through here, that's it. You don't ever have any sense of who's on them. But now you do. It's a real tragedy."