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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Article: Trolley Reminders to Disappear

This article appeared in the "Greenpoint Weeky Star" on Friday August 10, 1962.   This paper covers the northern part of Brooklyn called Greenpoint, which has since along with Williamsburg, have become quite fashionable.  In my blog, I occasionally write about what was called elsewhere "New York on the Eve of Bustitution", showing how New York, specially Brooklyn looked during the period from around October 31, 1956 to July 27, 1960 and beyond, as electric surface transit was destroyed in Brooklyn and parts of Queens.  When the last trolleybus ran on July 27, 1960 and the last South Brooklyn Railway electric locomotive ran under trolley power in 1961?, the wires and poles did not disappear the next day.  The poles and wires were up for many years.  Too bad that they did not make it to 1969, the birth of the environmental movement.  I could not bring in the article directly, but here is what it said on page 3:

   The last reminders of a by-gone trolley car era are vanishing from the streets of Brooklyn.  Borough president Abe Stark announced today that more than 5,000 unused trolley poles and miles of overhead wire are being taken down.   The work is being performed under contract and represents another part of a borough -wide community improvement program sponsored by Stark.   He announced that preliminary work has consisted of the elimination of 95 per cent of the overhead cables.   The contractor is expected to step up the actual removal of trolley poles from 30 a day to 100 a day.
   The improvement project calls for the removal of poles on 27 or more main streets and avenues.
   It is estimated that 1,825 tons of steel poles and 325 tons of overhead wires will be cleared from the borough's streets when the work is fully completed.
   The poles and overhead wires were essential parts of an extensive trolley car network that crisscrossed Brooklyn during bygone generations.
   As many as 80 trolley car lines and shuttles were still in operation in 1919, according to records of the Transit Authority.
   The last of Brooklyn 's trolleys were discontinued in 1956 when the Church Avenue and McDonald Avenue lines made their final runs and buses were substituted.
   The City Budget Director reported in January, 1962, that the Transit Authority  had rendered jurisdiction over a number of discontinued trolley and trolley coach facilities to the Board of Estimate.
  The board subsequently approved a proposal by Stark for the removal of poles and wires.
  Historical records indicate Brooklyn's electric trolley car era had its beginnings nearly 75 years ago.

End of Article.


   The article did not tell us that the date of the last trolley coaches (trolleybuses) was July 27, 1960.  In my humble opinion, by August, 1962, most of the poles from the older streetcar lines that were destroyed from 1945 to 1951 were gone.  Poles had to be removed then from the
Church Avenue, parts of McDonald Avenue line and perhaps the Coney Island Avenue Line.  The five or six trolley bus lines had to have there wires removed, including the Cortelyou Road line that also stropped on October 31, 1956.   According to info of the New York Division of the Electric Railway Association, pole and wire removal lasted until 1965 were these items and troughs were removed on former South Brooklyn Railway trackage under the Culver Line and the area between Fourth Avenue and the harbor.  Some of the wires went to the Branford Trolley Museum as well.

In northern Brooklyn, the base of the quoted newspaper, many trolleybus lines ran and were eliminated around July 27, 1960 and thus this was their interest in the remaining wires and poles in that district.

  Very few trolley poles remain in Brooklyn.  Yes, several can be found and they are isolated.
Some can be found near former streetcar, trolleybus turn arounds and along some subway right of ways.  Surf Avenue in Coney Island has a set of poles on both sides of the street just like in the old days.  They are painted but how long will they last?  Even cast iron melts away after so many years.

Some additional comments in the future.



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