NECK ROAD STATION, Brooklyn

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Southern Brooklyn stations in Midwood and Sheepshead Bay on the BMT Brighton line have all been rehabilitated with new windscreens and lighting, as well as a spruce-up of fare control areas — a lengthy process that took the better part of 3 years. I was passing through Sheepshead Bay and caught a train back home at Neck Road.

Though street signs always note its proper name, Gravesend Neck Road, street signs and neighborhood residents have always called it by the much shorter Neck Road. It’s a farm road that predates the local street grid ┬áby perhaps a couple of centuries and today runs from Van Sicklen Street in Gravesend (not to be confused with Van Siclen Avenue, without the k, in East New York) east and northeast to Avenue U and Nostrand Avenue. It used to extend further into “Gravesend Neck” which was then a peninsula, hence the “neck” in what is now the Marine Park area.

The Brighton Line, meanwhile, was built as part of Brooklyn Rapid Transit on what was then the steam railroad right of way belonging to the Brooklyn, Flatbush, and Coney Island Railroad, between Prospect Park and the Brighton Beach Hotel. In its present form, the Brighton was completed in 1907.

Of the four Brooklyn el lines that converge at the Coney Island terminal, the Brighton (B, Q lines) is the only one that offers scheduled express service, and that only on weekdays, the B serving as the express. The Culver (F) West End (D) and Sea Beach (N) are as of 2012 locals only.

Though the new windscreens offer limited glimpses of the outside world, Gravesend Neck Road is visible from this break.

Newly installed windscreen and Neck Road sign.

New high-intensity station walkway lamp…

…compare to incandescent lamps lighting the walkway in 1968. photo: Brian Cudahy, from nycsubway
The “8″ and “6″ signs indicate where the motorman is to stop if (s)he is operating a 6 or 8-car trainset. Typical trainsets run to 10 cars, with 11 on the Flushing Line.

On the northwest end of the present station, a blocked off staircase ascends to the northbound track.

Here’s a close-up view.

…and here’s how it appeared in 1910, when it was newly built. The stair ascended to the Neck Road passenger station of the Long Island Rail Road Manhattan Beach Branch, which was constructed parallel to the B, F&CI from 1877-1878. The railroad ran at grade until the first decade of the 20th Century, when it was placed on an embankment as southern Brooklyn became more developed and the railroad wanted to eliminate grade crossings. The lines ran parallel north to the present NY & Atlantic Bay Ridge Branch, where there was a wye connection between the two lines.

In the early 1900s there were a number of racetracks in the Sheepshead Bay and Coney Island, but when NY State outlawed horsetrack wagering (a ban that didn’t stick over the long term) passenger business on the Manhattan Beach steadily declined; passenger service on the MB, as well as the Bay Ridge Branch, ended in 1924, and the infrastructure was almost totally removed by 1938. Only this staircase, an underjump south of Avenue X, and a widening of East 17th Street are tangible remnants of the line. 1910 photo courtesy Arrts Archives

2/24/12





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12 Responses to NECK ROAD STATION, Brooklyn

  1. D. says:

    Ah-hah!

    My [former] dentist’s office was near Neck Road station, and I often wondered about that staircase…

  2. Nick says:

    Some of the last remnants of the LIRR MB Branch. I thought the LIRR old staircase was to be demolished as part of the Brighton rebuild. Glad it wasn’t but surprised the MTA hasn’t sold off that land to a developer.

  3. John Telesca says:

    One more odd bit of this railroad in Brooklyn – in 2010 some Brooklyn homeowners sued the MTA because a 20ft by 520ft corridor of unused land was still officially owned by the New York, Brooklyn and Manhattan Beach Railroad. For some reason this mid-block strip in Sheepshead Bay wasn’t sold off and the LIRR still had ownership many decades later. A strange little story.

    See http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/18/nyregion/brooklyn-homeowners-turn-old-railroad-tract-into-backyards.html?_r=1

    Two more remnants I know of – Corbin Place where the line used to end and the extended concrete walls east of the Brighton line, esp. between Ave J & Neck Road. Finally, the foundation of the old water tower was (is?) on East 14th Street in Coney Island.

  4. r185 says:

    I used to live on E. 18th & Neck Road when I was a kid and recall Robert Stack filming an episode of The Untouchables on that staircase and on the street in front of it.

  5. kongjr says:

    Now, if they can only find better use for the East New York spur of this ancient railway….

  6. John C. says:

    I grew up right around the corner on 15th between V and Neck Road…I remember climbing up there and hanging out behind it…I also walked behind De Niro when he was filming ‘A Bronx Tale’ there and stepped on my daog’s paw by accident when i was staring at him…Gimme a break i was 12…lol loved growing up in Brooklyn and I love our history. Bklyn4Eva

  7. Frank Scotti says:

    I believe our photo of the staircase to nowhere, that is described as on the “NorthWest” corner, is actually on the NorthEast corner.

    • Kevin Walsh says:

      No it’s the NW corner.

      • Jim Surace says:

        Frank Scotti is right Northeast corner of the Neck Road station.
        I live in the area all my life of 59 years, I pass by there practically everyday.
        It is definitely the northeast corner of the neck Road station.
        That stairway was part of the Long Island Railroad which had a branched off line heading EAST to the race track…that was to the east of the Neck Road station.

  8. Gloria says:

    It is the Northwest Corner. I lived right across the street. There was a pizzeria on the corner of Neck and E. 15th. Lived above that, next to G&G Bar. Thought the staircase was ridiculous but didnt hang out there because it always smelled like piss. Interesting background on it.

  9. Pingback: Sheepshead Bites » Blog Archive Morning Mug: A Road Honoring Necks? Not Quite. » Sheepshead Bay News Blog

  10. Bob says:

    I grew up in the apartment building (first tenants in 1964) on 18 st between Neck Rd And Ave V. I shined shoes on that staircase in the late sixties and early seventies.

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