Like much of the subways the BMT Brighton Line, which runs generally between East 15th and 16th Streets from Prospect Park south to Coney Island, has a complicated history. It was once part of a surface steam railroad, the Brooklyn, Flatbush and Coney Island, which began running in 1878, during the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential administration. Once the line was connected to the Fulton Street el via what is now the Franklin Shuttle, it changed from a seaside resort excursion route to a commuter railroad, and over the decades after century’s turn it was adapted more and more for that use, adding tracks and then, placing it in an open cut (1900-1908) and later, an elevated section (mid-1910s) between Sheepshead Bay and Coney Island.
The Brighton, which serves today’s Q (local) and B (express) trains, still looks remarkably like it did when it was first placed in the trench. Several specialized stationhouses were constructed while at Avenue H, an existing real estate office was adapted for that use.
At the Beverly and Cortelyou Road stations (which are about a block apart) the original stationhouses from the grade elimination program in 1907 are still in use, albeit with a makeover several years ago that placed a picture window right over the tracks. As an added attraction, the ancient painted sign for the Greenfield Pharmacy (which is still in business) can be seen through the windowshere at the Cortelyou station.