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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Church Avenue Line 1923-56

The Church Avenue Line with its' sister, the McDonald Avenue Line died on October 31, 1956. On that same day, the Cortelyou Road trolleybus also died. The Church Avenue line was unique in that it had its own separate two track tunnel crossing Ocean Parkway. If we follow the model of last out first in, the Church Avenue Line would be a good candidate for revival. The question is, should the entire line be equipped with streetcars? Looking at the track diagrams, we see that the line ran over some private right of way trackage in the Sunset Park area between first and second avenues off 39 th Street. At the other end, a trolley loop at Bristol Street was also in a private right of way. The Church Avenue line today is a busy one, and I do not have the statistics at hand, but in 1989 there were plans that called for the conversion of this line to trolleybus (trackless trolley) along with the Bx-12 route in the Bronx. Of course, nothing ever came of these plans. In its' last days, the Church Avenue Trolley started at a loop at First Avenue and runs along a private right of way until Second Avenue, It curved slightly on Second Avenue and turned east on 39 th Street, going up a hill. Along 39 Street, there was in the past turnouts for the 3 rd Avenue Line, the Fifth Avenue Line, the 8th Avenue Line and yes, the West End Trolley at 39 th Street and New Utrecht Avenue. The West End Trolley was never replaced with a bus after the line died around 1948. At 39 th Street and 13 th Avenue, the line makes a sharp curve and runs east on 13 th Avenue to 37 Street. At this point, the lines crosses the South Brooklyn Railway trolley-freight tracks and makes a sharp curve east. At this point, I remember near the beginning of Church Avenue there was a stub track leading to the former Nassau Electric yards. More about this later. the line now enters Church Avenue and joins and crosses the McDonald Avenue Line. This was a complicated junction with many curves. The line goes underground for a short distance crossing Ocean Parkway. The line surfaces and crosses the Coney Island Avenue Line that died in 1955. The line continues and crosses Flatbush Avenue and crosses Rogers Avenue. At Rogers Avenue, there was what is called a "Wye" that allows for a single ended car, such as a PCC car to reverse directions without a loop. Nostrand Avenue and Utica Avenues Lines are crossed as well, There was a branch at East 98 th Street but I do not know what line this connected to. At Hegeman Avenue, there was a small PRW at the loop and there was a turnout to the Carnarsie Depot. In a future blog, I will show the approximate location of a much bigger PRW that ran from East 98 th Street to Rockaway Avenue. This private right of way was in operation until 1928 and it could be seen by aerial photographs of the area in 1924 and 1951. According to Edward B. Watson, a trolley historian, the Church Avenue Line used 11, 8, and presently 35 as its' route numbers. Over the years, many other trolley routes used the Church Avenue trackage to reach Coney Island or Sheepshead Bay.

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