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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

This Thursday is the 57th Anniversary of the End of Streetcar Operations in Brooklyn with Trolleybus Number 23

This Thursday, October 31, 2013 marks the 57th Anniversary of the end of streetcar service in Brooklyn.  In the photo below, by Frank Pfuhler and was shot on 2/12/1954, you can see a

southbound PCC car, either a McDonald Avenue or Church Ave - McDonald Avenue streetcar  near the junction of both elevated structures, just about to enter below the Culver Line elevated structure.  The structure in the foreground is the BMT mainline Culver structure that was in use on that date and towards the right is the then not completed IND ramp leading to the Church Avenue Station.  If you look closely toward the extreme bottom - center of the photo you will see some white lines and these are the overhead wires of a short turnout for the South Brooklyn Railroad.  The main South Brooklyn Railroad mainline is below the Culver Line structure in the foreground.  Unfortunately, I cannot make out the overhead of the Cortelyou Road Trolleybus (B-23)  which would be more towards the left of the photo perpendicular to the Culver Line structure.  About two and half years later, on October 31, 1956, the plug would be pulled on the Church Avenue, Church-McDonald Avenue  streetcars and the Cortelyou Road trolleybus.  The wires under the elevated structure would be charged until 1961.  Today, the Culver Line mainline structure  (in the foreground) was removed while the ramp to the underground Church Avenue Station would now be considered the Culver Line mainline for the "F" -  Sixth Avenue subway service.  The South Brooklyn Railroad tracks were pulled out within the last twenty years and the Culver Line structure was removed in the 1980's.  The area in the foreground is a concrete processing and distribution plant.  The storage warehouse is still there.  Other trolleybus lines, in other parts of Brooklyn would last until 1959 or 1960.  The Cortelyou Road Line was never connected to other Brooklyn Trolleybus Lines.  The only artifacts in the area regarding streetcar service is some shadows of rails under asphalt near the path of the South Brooklyn Railroad and some trolley line support girders, embedded into the retaining wall of the subway incline.  There is even a few inches of trolley line support wire in horizontal position near the top of some selected girders.   It is unfortunate that the prospect of future streetcar service in Brooklyn and elsewhere in New York City is very bleak.  At one time, streetcars were a part of city life in New York just as much as they are today an important part of life in Riga, Warsaw, Lodz, Berlin and countless other cities.
I would be happy even if a short museum with a few hundred feet of track would be established but this is not likely.  With the establishment of clean hybrid buses and the establishment of Select Bus Service (Bus Rapid Transit) in New York City, the prospect of some form of electric surface rapid transit returning to the streets of Brooklyn are just as bleak as on November 1, 1956.  The transit authority and many political people are unfortunately not interested in establishing a future light rail or trolley line in New York City.

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