by Kevin Walsh

The East 105th Street station on the Canarsie BMT (the L train) is in a somewhat odd place for a subway stop — a dead end street with empty lots on one side and a Verizon administrative office on the other. The Breukelen Houses projects are a block south of it.

Until 1973 this was the lone grade crossing in the NYC subway system, left over from the days when the Canarsie Line was a steam railroad. The gates were hand-operated, and while there were a few more houses around, this was never a heavily populated area. You can see photos of its grade-crossing days on FNY’s Irresistible Lure of Canarsie page. A dirt road called Turnbull Avenue once ran alongside the tracks; it’s seen clearly here.

In 1974 I started bicycling obsessively all over southern Brooklyn. I found out much later that I had missed seeing this grade crossing by just one year. Since I was an idiot then, I didn’t carry any money with me and, one day when I got a flat tire, I had to hike all the way from Canarsie back to Bay Ridge, wheeling the bike. I did ride on the rim now and then.



chris February 24, 2014 - 10:15 am

Must be the loneliest station around.Ed Hopper would love it,especially on a quiet summer night

Bob Sklar March 12, 2014 - 8:05 am

Certainly one of the loneliest and most forlorn. I think, though, that the first prize goes to the old Botanic Garden station on the Franklin Shuttle, before the rebuild in 1998.

John April 1, 2014 - 6:54 pm

Actually, there is another station in the system that’s at a dead end: Broad Channel.

Gregg Goldberg December 1, 2019 - 12:54 pm

The Ave H station on the Q is surrounded by dead ends, tge entrance to the station is on the corner of two dead end streets (Ave H and E 16 St)

Lei February 25, 2014 - 6:23 pm

This is perhaps one of the sketchiest stations in the whole MTA system just because of how isolated it is. Though, East New York LIRR stop takes the cake.

john fazio February 25, 2014 - 6:42 pm

Kevin you can view the crossing on a old video. Google search Myrtle ave. el,1950s.At about the 11;00 minute mark you can see the train in all its glory with the gates down. Interesting stuff.

john fazio February 25, 2014 - 6:48 pm

Correction, its Myrtle av el 1950s part 2. Sorry about that.

Tal Barzilai February 25, 2014 - 7:11 pm

However, despite its location, it was still given a makeover not that long ago.

Bob Sklar February 26, 2014 - 10:21 am

Between the time I left Brooklyn in 1964 and returned in 1982, I had visited in 1967, 1976 and 1980. I could have sworn that by 1967 the grade crossing had been closed, and the general store to the south (on the west side of E. 105th St) was gone, but now I’m not sure.

Apparently the streets in that area had been partially developed beginning in the 1920’s, but were abandoned for some reason. During my 1967 visit Foster Av. appeared particularly dilapidated. This can be seen on NYC’s 1924 and 1951 aerial photos. By 1974 the area had been built up with warehouses and similar structures and looked essentially as it does now.

John Shea February 28, 2014 - 12:03 pm

If I recall correctly, the road crossing was closed by 1969 and possibly earlier, but entrance to the station required crossing the tracks, so there was still a pedestrian crossing.

maritza February 28, 2014 - 8:37 pm

I remember living in the projects when a neighbor of mine had a young son who was always bullied and went out on the tracks one morning and jumped into a coming train . I remember this as if it was yesterday and his name was Wilfredo Mestre.

maritza February 28, 2014 - 8:38 pm

i meant to mentioned the year but it was in the 60’s when this happened.

Yusuf Lamont March 9, 2014 - 3:38 am

This IS one of the sketchiest stations in the whole subway system. I didn’t even know it existed until I found myself half a block away at the massive UPS distribution hub on Foster Avenue to pick up a misrouted package. i’d been to that UPS depot before, but always hiked back down that desolate stretch of Foster, past the creepy (especially at dusk) industrial buildings to the much more heavily trafficked Remsen Avenue. A clerk saw me checking my watch as I waited for my package and asked if I was in a hurry. When I said “Yes, I’ve gotta hustle down Foster back to the bus and train.”, she said, “Just take the subway around the corner.” “Whaaaaaatttt?”, I thought, and she gave me the directions and I found myself at this utterly empty, kind of Brutalist looking station structure and went up, in and then DOWN to the tracks when I realized that the tracks were pretty much at “grade level”. A 50-year New Yorker who rode the old “J” line all the way from 168th Street in Jamaica for years, whose Dad worked on Foster Avenue for years and swore I knew most of the “little” stations in Brooklyn and I NEVER knew about this odd and quite frankly, scary little MTA subway outpost.

John April 1, 2014 - 6:53 pm

How is it sketchy? Give an example.

George Dunne March 18, 2014 - 12:55 am

Just “North” of the station, there was a spur track(s) that went through the DSNY’s property (Nicholas Cioffe Repair Shop & BK 17 Garage). I believe it made a connection with the Bay Ridge Branch of the LIRR, somewhere behind the Verizon Garage. The tracks were lain at grade level.

Thomas Cioffe May 8, 2014 - 6:36 pm

small world. my dad nick cioffe designed the shop you mention, but sadly passed away in 1986 just before it was completed. i remember walking around before the foundation was place and saw old tracks in the yard. thanks for noticing the shop!

rob November 20, 2018 - 12:23 pm

Occasionally Id get off at that stop right before the last stop (Rockaway Parkway) and walk across the two blocks to the stores there, one of which you could go in, slip the guy 10 bucks and get some weed in a little brown envelope.This was early 80s.


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