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Monday, July 16, 2012

Another View from the Manhattan Bridge - July 2012

This beautiful shot was taken last week by docjayva from the Manhattan Bridge looking south to lower Manhattan showing the World Trade Center area.  Since we are on the subject of the Manhattan Bridge and some of my posts deals with the Culver Line, either as a subway line or as the Culver-Fifth Avenue Elevated line, I would like to tell you about an unusual Culver Line operation in the subway.  I will verify this in the future, but in the 1950's before the line was truncated at Ditmas Avenue and even afterwards, there was an unusual loop operation in the morning rush hour.  Trains would depart Ditmas Avenue and go north to 36th Street and 4th Avenue where they would run express to Pacific Street.  I am not sure if the Culver trains would stop at Dekalb Avenue but would go over the Manhattan Bridge and loop southward to the Nassau Street loop.  This connection does not exist today since the Chrystie Street Loop service began in 1967.  The Culver trains would now go southbound through the Nassau Street Loop, into the Montague Street tunnel and run local southbound on Fourth Avenue.  It would stop at 36th Street and finally end up at Ditmas Avenue were it started from!    The BMT Standard subway cars had two types of roll signs, large and small.  The description of the route was something like ".. Via Bridge to Manhattan and Southbound via Nassau  Street Loop..."  I am not sure of the exact wording but it was clearly not visible on the small size BMT Standard destination curtains.   This service ended in 1959 when the Culver Line really became a true shuttle between Ditmas Avenue and  Ninth Avenue. (To be verfiied and modified in the future.)
Readings on a BMT Standard roll sign is found below.  Taken from web.  Culver related items in red.

Ditmas Ave 36th St.-4th Av Forest Hills-Queens
Via Tunnel thru
Via Bridge to Bklyn
Via Bridge thru
Via Tunnel to Bklyn
6th Av.Manh't'n
8th Av.Manh't'n
Myrtle Av.
Eastern P'kwy
Atlantic Av.
Chambers St.
Canal St.
Crescent St.
111th St.
Metropolitan Av.
Broad St.
Whitehall St.
Queens Plaza
95th St.-Ft.H'ton
Prospect Park
Franklin Av.
Nassau St.
Brighton Beach
57th St. Manh't'n
Kings Highway
Times Square
Coney Island
Bay Parkway
62nd St. Bklyn
City Hall
Ninth Av.


  1. The rush hour Culver-Nassau loop trains go back to 1931 when the Nassau loop first opened. Before the DeKalb Ave. station was rebuilt in the 1950s and the switches moved south of the station, it was possible for trains coming from the Montague St Tunnel to go through the bypass track at DeKalb without stopping, and the rush hour Culver Express used this connection.

    There is also an interesting post at concerning Culver line operations around 1950.

    1. Hi Ed:

      Thank you very much for this information. It is interesting to note that even though in off hours before 1959 when the Culver Line ran between 36th Street and Fourth Avenue, in rush hours, the line was extended to Manhattan via this loop. There was probably enough passengers to support this service and when the Culver Line was made into a 24-hour shuttle, that was the beginning of the end. Who knows, if the BMT Culver Line was extended to 18th Avenue instead of Ditmas Avenue, there may have been enough traffic generated so that the Culver Line to Manhattan via 4th Avenue would have been existence today.
      Thanks again,
      Tramway Null(0)

  2. I love this stuff .Even though i was born in 1961 I still remember my first train ride over the Manhattan Bridge ,the trians had open ceiling fans and little port hloes in the roof for fresh air to flow thru,and the seats where made of this hard hay-like material ,also remembering looking thru the round windows ,and also looking at the Brooklyn Navy yard as we went over the bridge then coming back we would transfer to the LL to Myrtle ave line to get off at Broadway and Myrtle ave ,thanks for the momories GT

    1. Hi Anonymous:

      Thanks for your memories. I remember the old equipment as well since I am older than you. The hay-like seats were made of wicker and they were comfortable although sometimes they would snag ladies' stockings. The port holes in the roof, as I remember where on both sides of the ceilings and was called deck roofs. IND style cars of class R1-9 had these roofs and so did one type of BMT Standard Cars. The only type of cars that had round windows were a class experimental cars on the BMT called R-11's. There were very few of these cars made. Perhaps these type of cars were on your trip across the Manhattan Bridge. In my humble opinion, although the subway cars today are air-conditioned and bright, they are all very similar to the R-160 class which whose style is found on IRT and BMT-IND lines, and how shall I put it, they are very boring. In the old days, the equipment was very diverse. For example IRT LoV types were very different from the BMT standards, the triplex type "D" and wooden style elevated cars that used to run on the Mytle Avenue Elevated. The sounds and designs of all these cars were very different. Even the smells were different. I do not mean urine or anything unpleasant, but the BMT, IND and IRT cars used different motor oils that smelled organic like camphor or creosote and they were different for many car classes. Perhaps many older New Yorkers may remember the distinctive small as well. The PATH tubes had there own distinctive aroma which was like mildew.

      Thanks for your input,
      Tramway Null(0)

    2. Hi Anonymous:

      Please pardon my spelling. Please change "Small" to "smell".

      Tramway Null(0)