Skip to main content

This photo appears to show the Brooklyn station before the great  trainshed at sands street were built. The original line across the Brooklyn Bridge was a Cable railway . It was converted to steam and the steam trains met the El trains and the LIRR at this location. When the trainshed was built and the El station expanded, El service from many of the Brooklyn Lines began operating over the Bridge directly eliminating the physical transfer that we see in the photo.

I agree the tracks end in the photo foreground You can also see that the platform has a gate across it which seems to prevent passengers from accessing the platform area in the foreground, probably part of the physical transfer process. The steam forneys were eliminated when the Brooklyn Els were electrified in the early 1900s.

Ok since we are in Brooklyn, we can visit the Broadway El near the Williamsburg Bridge; Before the Bridge was built, this elevated route went to the Broadway Ferry at the East River where boats connected to Manhattan at Grand Street, James slip, Houston street and East 23rd street. West of Marcy Ave, there were two stops, the Broadway Ferry terminal and a mid stop at Driggs avenue. This spur was used to connect Brooklyn El Trains and the LIRR Rockaway service to Manhattan via the ferries. In 1908, the El was connected to Manhattan by a new line over the Williamsburg  Bridge and an on grade junction installed with the Broadway El complete with a tower.


Here are a couple of views when the connection was first built.








Interesting that the Woodsided Gate cars were operating into Manhattan to the below grade Essex Street Station and shortly later extended to Bowery, Canal Street and Chambers street. The first Steel BMT standards were not on the system until 1916, some 8 years after the Williamsburg Bridge extension opened.


There was also a lot of Trolley action at Ground Level at Bridge Plaza as seen in this view





And This one as well






The cars in the Foreground are Brooklyn cars operated by what became the B&QT division of the BMT. The cars on the right are New York City trolleys known as the Green Line which eventually became the Fifth Avenue Coach Line . These cars made their last runs over the Bridge in the 1930s while the B&QT service lasted until 1948-49.


The Original Broadway El to Broadway Ferry was closed about the time of World war 1. There was a paper transfer at Marcy Avenue from the EL to the trolleys to continue to Broadway Ferry when the El section was closed. It lasted into the Bus era. The B&QT trolleys added a stop on the Bridge at Driggs ave. This service had a 2cent fare as opposed to the 5cent fare to ride the cars beyond the Driggs ave stop. Here is a PCC making a stop at Driggs ave. This was a fan trip as PCCs did not run on any of the routes that crossed the Williamsburg Bridge.





After the trolleys were eliminated, buses replaced the Bridge service and the Driggs ave stop was eliminated. In the late 1950s, there were still trackless trolleys using the trolley wire at Bridge plaza. Check out the work train with the BMT standards providing the power. I wonder what the conversation was about with the folks in the foreground.?





Fan trips provided for unusual equipment to show up at Marcy avenue. Here are the D types coming off the Bridge. D types were at home on the southern Division and were not assigned to the Broadway El service. The Broadway Ferry spur is gone for many years in this photo but the tower is still there.





Finally we close with a photo from just a few days ago with R-32s coming off the Bridge in the same spot. and yes the tower is still there , now more than 100 years old but it does look like it has seen  better days and is in need of some repairs.





Images (8)
  • img_53587
  • img_53586
  • img_136339
  • img_113237
  • img_30887
  • img_69183
  • img_7506
  • img_144308

So still on the Broadway line we see in this photo the on grade junction of the Broadway line and the long gone Lexington Ave El. Yes there was a Lexington Ave El in Brooklyn . It was Brooklyn's first Elevated line and dated to 1885. Its route took it from the Fulton Ferry in Brooklyn, way out to Cypress Hills. Parts of today's Broadway Jamaica El were originally part of the Lexington Ave line when constructed. The Broadway line had several on grade junctions ie at Marcy Ave, Myrtle Ave, Gates ave, Manhattan Junction and Chestnut street . Myrtle ave connection still exists today. At Gates Ave, there was a tower that controlled the junction . It spanned the express track on the Broadway line. Only the east and west local tracks connected with the Lexington ave el. Gate cars were the normal vehicles on the Lexington Ave line. None of the lightweight BMT experimentals ventured on this line. The Lexington Ave El line was discontinued in 1950. A section in downtown Brooklyn continued to operate on the Myrtle Ave El until 1969 and the piece of the line that ran from Gates Avenue east to Cypress hills has been upgraded and still is used today on the Broadway Jamaica service.





Images (1)
  • img_101408
Last edited by LIRR Steamer

So taking a little trip on the Lexington Ave line back around 1950, here is what we might experience. In Downtown Brooklyn, trains terminated at the Bridge and jay Street station along with the Myrtle ave Line trains. There was a paper transfer available for detraining passengers to enter the IND A and D lines at Jay Street .


The Northbound Lexington would leave Bridge and Jay street station on the Myrtle ave line and head up a few stops to Grand Ave station on the Myrtle ave line. Trains turned off the Myrtle Ave line, just south of the station and headed east towards the Broadway El along Grand Ave and then onto Lexington ave. The junction at Grand Ave was on grade with a tower. There was an interesting station arrangement on the Lexington Ave El at Grand Ave. Trains heading out to  East new York did not stop at Grand ave as inbound trains did. There was no outbound platform but only a platform for inbound trains which connected to platforms of the Grand Ave station on the Myrtle ave El. I think the theory was that an inbound passenger might want to be able to change here to go North on the Myrtle Ave El. Outbound passengers would take the appropriate train from Bridge and Jay street so therefore no need to stop at Grand Ave on the Lexingon ave line. Heres a photo of the Grand Ave station on the Lexington line. We have a three car gate car train. Note the third rail did not not have covers . Watch your step!!





Continuing toward east New York, the El veered off Grand Avenue onto Lexington ave via an "S" Curve on the El, not quite as dramatic as the curve on the 3rd ave Manhattan line at Coenties slip. Here is view from Street Level and also an aerial view which shows the line. The Lexington Ave El was a 2 track  line over this stretch.








The line had signals as well, pretty modern for the time i suppose.


Images (3)
  • img_113316
  • img_131158
  • img_132289

So continuing our journey, the next stop on the Lexington Ave El was Greene ave. The station had platforms for both directions ad we have two views.


In the first image, we have a Lexington Ave Train heading outbound toward Broadway in Brooklyn. It is bound for Eastern Parkway which was the terminus in the east in the later days of the Els existence.





The second image shows an inbound train heading for Bridge and Jay street in Downtown Brooklyn. The destination sign on the trailing gate car is interesting as it shows Grant Ave which was a stop on the Fulton street El . I am wondering if there was some sort of service that operated over the Fulton street El into Broadway Junction, on the Broadway El and down the Lexington Ave El to downtown Brooklyn in those days.





I'll see you at the next stop.


Images (2)
  • img_6666
  • img_112544

Ok so lets continue our trip. The next station up the line was Franklin ave. In this view, we have an outbound train coming into Franklin Ave. Its summertime and there are two convertible cars in the consist. Also the end door is open to move air in the car.This train is heading to Eastern Parkway on the Jamaica El. In the distance you can see the Williamsburg Bank building which is at Flatbush ave and Atlantic Ave in downtown Brooklyn.





Again we are at Franklin ave and we have an outbound train heading towards the Jamaica El . This time the photo is the away shot as the train is leaving Franklin ave. Its also a cooler time of the year. No open doors and convertible sides all buttoned up.





We have a route map that shows the unique section of this elevated line which follows. It paralleled the Myrtle ave El but a few blocks east. This is a pre War map as the Fulton Street Elevated, The Fifth Ave Elevated and the Broadway Ferry spur are all shown on this map





I also came across a BMT service listing which explains the Grant ave signage on a train in and earlier photo. When the BMT eliminated the Fulton Street El in 1940, it did substitute a rush hour service beginning at Grant ave on the Fulton Street line which remained, continuing through Broadway Junction, Eastern Parkway and down  the Lexington ave El to Park Row initially, later Bridge and Jay. There was also Rush hour Lexington ave trains which ran to 111th street in Richmond Hill on the jamaica el. At normal hours, Lexington ave Trains ran only as far as Eastern Parkway. 


Images (3)
  • img_6679
  • img_112546
  • lexmap

LIRR STEAMER, and Ben. I also enjoy your old NY posts. I like the subways, not familiar much with Brooklyn, grew up in Corona Queens. Sunday I took the museum ride to Rockaway, then left the group to ride the J line. Was always interested in the Broadway Junction stop and the maze of tracks and curves. Rode that to Jamaica Center and back to Manhattan. Enjoyed that more than the museum trip! Keep up the good work, Vic.

Originally Posted by subway vic:

LIRR STEAMER, and Ben. I also enjoy your old NY posts. I like the subways, not familiar much with Brooklyn, grew up in Corona Queens. Sunday I took the museum ride to Rockaway, then left the group to ride the J line. Was always interested in the Broadway Junction stop and the maze of tracks and curves. Rode that to Jamaica Center and back to Manhattan. Enjoyed that more than the museum trip! Keep up the good work, Vic.

Broadway junction is the center of the universe when it comes to the NY city subway.  The el is a maze of lattice and routes present and past     There is still a small piece of the Fulton El that is still used for making moves into East NY Yard there.









Images (5)
  • fulton
  • fulton1
  • fulton3
  • fulton4
  • fulton5

Eastern parkway Broadway junction was indeed the center of the universe for the BMT. Almost the entire BMT Eastern Division operations went through there with the exception of Myrtle ave service. In the 1940s and 50s, you had Broadway trains operationg to Jamaica 168th street, Broadway locals between canal st and Atlantic Ave., the Canarsie line to eighth ave in Manhattan, the Lexington ave els to eastern parkway, grant ave on the Fulton street line and 111th street on the Jamaica line, Fulton st El trains to eastern parkway from Lefferts Blvd on Saturday and Sunday and during the week they ran to Rockaway ave. There was also Fulton Street El Rush Hour service through the junction to Eighth ave Manhattan via the Canarsie line, using the Multis.  Ben's Photos shows some of the interesting equipment of the BMT which operated here including the C types (first BMT articulateds) and the Multis, the production car that evolved from BMT experimentals in the 1930s. It was something to see in those days with all those different trains coming through the complex and also going into and out of the East New York yard and shops. If that were not enough there also were hordes of BMT trolleys below on the streets under this complex. It was a transit paradise.


One more point, We cant see it here in these photos but it is worth mentioning that below ground nearly under this complex passed the LIRR's bay Ridge Branch . At the South end of the complex under Atlantic ave was the LIRR Flatbush Ave line which passed over the Bay Ridge Branch crossing at 90 degree angles , but crossing under the BMT elevated complex at the South End. 

Last edited by LIRR Steamer

So we can cover the rest of the Lexington Ave Line tonight. Nostrand ave is the next stop. Its summer time and the morning rush hour. The train in the photo was making a run in from Grant Ave on the Fulton Street El. It has three convertible sides cars with the sash removed for summer operation





Next is Tompkins Ave . Again Warm weather operations. In this photo, we have a train heading out toward the jamaica El while a second train heading downtown to Brooklyn is arriving at the station. I think the advertising is an interesting sign of the times as well in these photos. Also notice the gent on the inbound platform. He has a hat on. Full dress even in the warm months.



Tompkins ave img_112548


Next stops were Summner Ave and then Reid Ave. Reid ave was the first stop after the Lexington ave El divereged from the Broadway El . In the photo, you see an inbound train and in the background you can see the tower on the Broadway line that straddled the center track and controlled the junction.





Reid ave img_113317


These photos are very representative of what it was like to grow up in Brooklyn in the 1940s and 50s . It was a great place and a lot of fun. I hope you liked the trip on the Lexington Ave El (1885-1950)


Images (3)
  • img_112549
  • Tompkins ave img_112548
  • Reid ave img_113317

The lower Manhattan terminal for the line was Hudson Terminal at Cortlandt street. Heres an H&M Train in the station. This train I think is a PRR train that operated into Hudson Terminal with direct transfer at Newark station from PRR commuter trains.





Passengers on the Mezzanine at Hudson Terminal





We have an H&M Train at Journal Square in Jersey City. The headquarters of the Jersey Journal , a large New Jersey Newspaper was located here





Images (3)
  • img_24779
  • hudson-terminal-from-temp-wtc-greyscale-1024
  • blackcaratjsqwithmagnolia

The Hudson and Manhattan Tubes has a long history  They were actually operating before the IRT.  After construction of the Holland and Lincoln tunnels they went into bankruptcy.  They had a huge building in Manhattan called Hudson terminal.  Part of the deal to get them out of bankruptcy was for the Port Authourity to by HM so they can knock down Hudson terminal to make way for the World Trade Center in the 1960's.  The Pennsylvania RR also operated them for awhile before they went bankrupt too.


Hudson Terminal




Construction of the World Trade Center




Pensylvania Railroad Tubes  They shared the right of way by Journal square  Notice third rail and catenary.  The Pennsy Keystone and it covered up shortly after the PA took over






Images (4)
  • img_21761
  • img_21822
  • img_31217
  • img_78220

The only known photograph of Beach's Pneumatic Transit circa 1873 when it operated as an experiment and novelty ride under Broadway. 


And later in 1912 when the tube was unearthed by subway transit construction.  Shown is the end of the cylindrical car and above can be seen what appears to be the vent located at city hall park.



Last edited by brwebster


Interesting when you said the H and M tubes were operating before the IRT. I know that the H and M tubes were operating in 1908 before the IRT tunnel under the east river opened up, but as far as I know the IRT itself was running by 1904, albeit on Manhattan only. Did you mean under the river? 


The picture of the Beach is neat, I have never seen a picture of it, the only things I ever saw were drawings from magazines of the era like Harper's. 

As a young boy growing up during the 50's and 60's in Brooklyn Heights and in Bensonhurst Brooklyn, I remember much of the great Railroading history of NYC. Bush Terminal, The Waterfront RR barge piers, The Culver Shuttle, The High Line, the railroad in the street that ran on McDonald Ave below the D train and the large number of factories and freight operations that surrounded the waterfronts of the five Boroughs. I also vaguely recall that there were also some electric bus routes (Church Ave rings a bell) and a two car train that connected the Staten Island Ferry to South Beach. I must have been 6 or 7 at that time so my recollections are dim.  NYC had thriving railroad freight operations back then but sadly, all of it has disappeared. The only railroads left are some subways and bus routes . This was even before our industrial base was moved to Communist China.


It was the F train above McDonald Ave  Staten Island has seen the re-emergence of freight operations over the Arthur Kill Lift bridge.  New York and Atlantic is operating the old Bay Ridge yard and has started using the car floats there.  They run a train a day and float cars to Greenville and connect with NYNJ rail.


Here is a pic of the High line in the background




Images (1)
  • nyc-549

Add Reply


OGR Publishing, Inc., 1310 Eastside Centre Ct, Suite 6, Mountain Home, AR 72653
800-980-OGRR (6477)

Link copied to your clipboard.