by Kevin Walsh

Deep in the heart of Ridgewood, a beautiful neighborhood filled with brick and brownstone buildings that straddles the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, there lurks a relic of the trolley days of yesterday. The fact that the tracks aren’t on a city street proper have probably saved them from oblivion…so far.

These two views of Woodbine Street between Onderdonk and Woodward Avenue show 84-year-old trolley tracks under the right of way of what is now the BMT “M” elevated train.

The el at this point has its own right of way and so does not travel over a street. For most of its run, it shadows Myrtle Avenue and Palmetto Street, but then detours between streets until descending to grade and ending at Metropolitan Avenue.

The trolley tracks were originally part of the Myrtle Avenue line of the Brooklyn Rapid Transit (BRT). In 1913 it was decided to elevate the train, leaving the tracks available for trolley use. Trolley cars operated on the ROW, which followed the same route that is today assumed by the M train, from 1916 into the 1940s.

Another view of the tracks at 60th Place, south of Putnam Avenue, both sides. After service ended, the tracks were never paved over in areas where the ROW did not follow a street.

A similar state of affairs exists in Jackson Heights, where tracks survive in spots on a demapped section of Jackson Mill Road.

This view from the 1930s shows a Peter Witt car using the tracks on Madison Street and Woodward Avenue.



Nancy Reising February 14, 2013 - 9:28 am

As a kid (really little) I lived on Palmetto St. under the El. The trolley was still running past our front door and my Father took it to FreshPond Rd. to go to work. The conductor knew us well and sometimes used to let me ride with my Dad and on the way back would drop me off in front of my “Stoop”. What Great memories I have. That was in the late forties.

Walter Denzler September 21, 2013 - 7:28 pm

I grew up on Onderdonk Ave between Gates and Palmetto. It’s at Onderdonk where the trolley line left Palmetto St and continued on the ROW up to the trolley barn at Fresh Pond Rd. As a child I remember that trolley as well as the one that ran along Seneca Ave.

Michael Doran March 1, 2017 - 3:51 am

Can anyone tell me if the original Ridgewood Trolley Depot and what became the Fresh Pond Bus Depot were one in the same?

Walter Denzler April 6, 2017 - 1:22 pm

Yes, they’re one in the same.

john urbanski March 9, 2020 - 10:35 pm

same location, but different buildings. The trolley depot was demolished except for what is on Fresh Pond Rd, the bus depot is an entire different building

Robert J. Illing August 2, 2020 - 2:13 pm

The trolley depot was demolished around 1960 . The front of the depot facing Fresh Pond Rd. was left in place and it now houses stores. This was done to basically hide the
new bus depot being built in back of it. There is also another depot built further back by the LIRR tracks and Traffic St. The 1960 depot is used for bus parking and the new depot is used for bus maintenance.

Peter Iacontino April 1, 2017 - 7:05 am

Does anyone remember the ” car barns” on Dekalb & Seneca Ave. Ridgewood ? It’s where they use to repair & store the trolley cars back in the 1950’s ?

Susan July 12, 2017 - 2:03 am

Yes, I remember. But for some reason in the 70’s people would call it “The Carbines”…..lol…I have no idea why.

ray August 13, 2021 - 12:32 pm

yes it was the angel dust capital of queens …..ala Nicky Bop

tommy b January 7, 2018 - 6:48 pm

Yes. My uncle worked their from around 1925 to 1955, as a welder repairing old trolley cars and broken street plows used during winter snow storms. I visited their several times as a youngster circa 1946-1948. The repair men would hold Christmas parties in one of the disabled trolleys, some were professional musicians and would hold “Jam Sessions” , sing, eat food, make jolly and have a grand time. I still can see images of those days in my minds eye.

sabong.pw June 24, 2018 - 2:19 am

Worm farming is great for the environment.

Paul Deifel September 30, 2018 - 12:04 am

I’ve seen a picture of EL cars on the ROW at Fresh Pond Rd. before the EL was constructed. Did the elevated Myrtle Ave. line come down off the EL to ground level or was it a separate line ?

john urbanski March 9, 2020 - 10:38 pm

After Wyckoff Ave, the line descended to street level and ran along the ROW to Metropolitan

Bob oberlenti June 8, 2019 - 8:47 pm

Carbines was meant to be car barnes where they kept trolley cars It’s a park Today

Edwin Bergmann July 6, 2019 - 1:50 pm

The last photo on this page, of the trolley car under the Myrtle Ave el on its own ROW in Ridgewood, Queens, in the 1930s, is incorrectly labeled. It’s crossing Woodbine Street. I was raised in Ridgewood and walked over this crossing on my way to and from PS 93, Queens, daily on school days, during the ’40s and ’50s. When I first saw the photo, I thought I was correct about this, but I wanted to be sure, so I visited both the Woodbine St and Madison St locations, and I am clearly correct about the photo being at the Woodbine Street crossing.

Charles Warren March 13, 2022 - 10:53 pm

See “https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?vanity=brooklynels&set=a.703460929854751”.


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