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Sunday, October 30, 2016

SixtyYears Ago

  Sixty years ago, on October 31, 1956, the last city run streetcar ended service in Brooklyn.  Three lines ended on that date:  Two streetcar lines, namely the Church Avenue (35) and the McDonald-Church Line (50), and the Cortelyou Road (23) trolleybus.  In another part of the city, a line over the Queensborough Bridge would operate until 1957.   Trolleybuses ended on July 27, 1960 and electric trolley freight on the South Brooklyn would last for a few more years.  Searching the net to get photos regarding the Church Avenue Line that I  did not see before, I came across the website below called the "TheTrolleyDoger"

This website deals mainly (after a brief observation) with Chicago rapid transit and PCC streetcars.  Chicago, the second city in the United States has a large rapid transit system and still has an elevated line in the Central Business District.  This website has very interesting material dealing with the variety that once existed and still exists in the Chicago area.  This great picture below comes from their website and is quite rare.  It is rare because it shows two PCC streetcars at the McDonald - Church intersection sometime between 1951 and 1956.  As stated in the blog, Chicago and New York have similar transit histories.  But I disagree.  Chicago appears to be less anti-trolley than New York.  Chicago's trolleybuses lasted until 1973 with many lines.  New York's (Brooklyn and Queens) trolleybuses lasted until July, 1960.   Chicago kept their elevated lines in the Central Business District while Manhattan lost theirs in 1955.  Downtown Brooklyn lost the Myrtle Avenue Line in 1969.  I believe that Chicago's rail equipment (subway, elevated, and streetcar) was very innovative compared to New York's.  The Chicago PCC cars were huge and had an interesting door arrangement.  Chicago trolley's as shown in the"trolleydoger" website operated in very interesting environments:  Streets, under elevated lines, on bridges and private rights of way.  Similar to New York, Chicago is a big city, like New York and is having trouble bringing back trolleys.  One fact that I did not know about Chicago elevated lines: " the central city, the Chicago elevated lines operated over streets... but away from the central city, the elevated lines mainly operated over backyards and private right of ways...."   In New York, including the elevated lines that no longer exist, I would say that the majority is and was over streets.

In the picture above from "thetrolleydodger" website, a southbound streetcar (right) is about to turn into McDonald Avenue perhaps to the 16th Avenue Loop.  To the left, a Bristol Street car is headed east on Church Avenue.  You are facing east on Church Avenue, and you are looking at the Greater NY Saving Bank.

   As I said in the past, after October 31, 1956, the tracks and wires and poles did not disappear overnight.  The wires were up for years and many trolley wire support poles were left but they are all gone, except in some rare places as former trolley loops.   Will trolleys ever come back to Brooklyn?  A group is trying to bring it back but it will not apparently have overhead.  My guess as soon as construction is started,  a cheap Star Trak type of transporter will be made available making rapid transit obsolete.
Tramway Null(0)

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