Shown in the title card is the intersection of Ocean and Parkside Avenues, where one of four subway stations facing Prospect Park can be found. This one serves the Q local, which currently runs, when it is running a complete route, from Ditmars Boulevard in Astoria to Coney Island, where it shares a terminal with the D, N and F trains. The Q subway designation is an old one and is a legacy of a pair of lines, the QB and QJ, which traveled in Brooklyn and to Jamaica. The J is the descendant of the QJ, while the Q is a descendant of the QB, more or less. There was a lot of intertraffic between the lines.
The other three subway stations fronting on Prospect Park are 15th Street on the F, Prospect Park, the next station on the Q, and the Grand Army Plaza station serving the 2, 3 and 4.
The Brighton Line is in the BMT division and is the descendant of a surface steam railroad, the Brooklyn, Brighton and Coney Island. After 1900, southern Brooklyn slowly began to evolve out of its open fields and farms into a more urban environment, with a street grid, residential housing, and business districts. Hence, the old railroads electrified and eliminated grade crossings. By 1910 most if not all of the Brighton’s grade crossings were eliminated or placed on embankments or elevated segments, and this handsome station entrance is typical of what was then a blossoming mass transit system. Most, if not all, BMT (Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit, which replaced the bankrupt Brooklyn Rapid Transit after 1918) stations featured a terra cotta, brightly-colored diamond motif, which is seen here.
The entrance is placed on a slant athwart the corner because here, the Brighton Line travels on a diagonal beneath the intersection.
After decades of decline that happened because of: the persistence of the nickel fare way past the point of practicality (1948); the fiscal crisis of the 1970s and unchecked lawlessness that nearly completely trashed the subways; and a general sense in the zeitgeist by city authorities that the subways, and their working-class clientele, were not really worthy of a first-class transportation system — the trains have experienced a renaissance over the past 2 decades, with vastly improved station updates as well as new systems informing patrons when they can expect the next train.
The city has done right by the Parkside Avenue stationhouse. Overall design esthetics have come round once again to the simple mosaic, tile and terra cotta in its the “fare control” area. Unusually, here the original pendant ceiling lamps still work, and have been given new longer-lasting fluorescent bulbs.
A number of stations on the Brighton Line stand just above the tracks (notably the Beverley and Cortelyou stations), and waiting areas have a good view of the tracks and trains plying the line. The station is also graced by a terra cotta work by Susan Tunick, Brighton Clay Re-Leaf. (She also wrote one of my favorite books, Terra-Cotta Skyline: New York’s Architectural Ornament.)
My attraction to the Parkside Avenue station is that it’s one of NYC’s subway stations that’s half in the light, half out of it. A few years ago I did a page on the Hunters Point Avenue station in Queens, which is officially underground, but with the outside world visible from the east end of the tracks. Probably the best-known station in this vein is the Wilson Avenue station on the L Canarsie Line, in which the top (southbound) platform faces Trinity Cemetery and the bottom (northbound) station is completely underground.
This station opened on April 4th, 1905 as part of the BRT and like many of southern Brooklyn’s train stations, the original pillars and station ornamentation are still intact. This is the southern half of the station, under the intersection, which is all underground.
In the 1980s, the Parkside, Beverley and Cortelyou stations were supplied with new wall art and ID plaques. They are the only three stations in the subways that employ the Times Roman typeface, which first appeared as the text font of the London Times in the early 1930s.
This is an unusual version of Times, because of the tall x-heights (all the rage in the 1980s) and uneven heights (note the the s and i are different heights). The use of the diamonds is consistent with BMT construction.