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Friday, November 23, 2012

Coal Bins at Gravesend and 16th Avenue Brooklyn

A reader was searching for coal bins at 16th Avenue and McDonald (Gravesend) Avenues in Brooklyn.  In this 1924 Aerial, you can see the coal bins near the historic Kensington Junction circled in red.  Also, the private right of way of the 16th Avenue Streetcar is also shown.  The private right of way was also known as Lott Place.  You can see Culver el swing to the left at 37th Street.  This is before the Independent Subway ramp was built connecting to the Church Avenue Station.  The Church Avenue station openned in the early 1930's.  By the 1950's, this group of coal bins was gone but others remained along the Culver right of way along 37th Street and McDonald Avenue.


  1. Speaking of coal, if you use the same aerial photo, you can see depots at various points along the LIRR Bay Ridge Branch, particularly at the Vanderveer team tracks off Flatbush Avenue, of the Brooklyn Ash Removal Co. The company handled coal ash, a waste product from the many homes and apartment buildings that burned coal for heat. It was transported by truck or wagon to the RR, where it was put on trains and transported to dumping grounds, including the area where Flushing Meadow Park is now. This was the great "Valley of Ash" referred to in The Great Gatsby, and is also clearly visible in the photo.

    1. Dear Anonymous:

      Thanks for your input.

      Tramway Null(0)

  2. Well, something that is lost in history is that large, rectangular shape at the bottom of the photo, just to the right of center. This plot of land between McDonald and E. 2nd, and Cortelyou Rd and Ditmas Ave. is "Suburban Oval." A multi-use athletic field on which H.S., Prep School, College AND Professional AND Semi-Profession Major League and Negro League Teams played. This included the Brooklyn Superbas in 1912 and 1913 featuring, among others, Casey Stengel. The owners lost their lease about 1916, and it fell into disuse until the mid-1920s when the land was developed.

    More info can be found at

    1. Hi Artie: Thanks for you most very interesting comments. Your info and links provide another layer of information to this historic railway area. Many people that are interesting in the history of Boro Park and Kensington would find your information most interesting. Like you, I have used the 1924 aerial photographs provided by the City of New York Department of Planning and when I looked at 1924 aerials from southern Brooklyn and other areas, I was surprised to see the number of what appears to be "baseball diamonds". They appear to be all over. Baseball must of been a bigger part of the culture of the New York at the beginning part of the 20th Century more than it is today, at least at the local city level. Your posting confirms this. Please let us know anything else of historic value that you can add to the postings of this blog.

      Incidentally, trolley photos from the era of 1951 to 1956 showing the east side of McDonald Avenue between Ditmas and Cortelyou shows that many lots existed. From the 1924 aerial, it appears that "Lott Place" may have continued east of McDonald Avenue. Lott Place is the location of the 16th Avenue Trolley branch off from Gravesend (McDonald Avenue).

      Thanks so much,
      Respectfully, Tramway Null(0)