The Bay Ridge Branch of the Long Island Rail Road runs from the Fresh Pond RR yards in Glendale generally southwest and west, ending at the waterfront of the Narrows in Bay Ridge. For much of its route it’s a one-track freight line. It has been discussed as the locale for a new crosstown subway line that would use the LIRR and Connecting RR tracks across the Hell Gate into the Bronx, but that’s a lot of rights-of-way to coordinate for a line that would never enter Manhattan, the hub around which NYC’s mass transit system revolves–hence, it’s a non-starter.
However this was once a passenger line until 1924. In the years since virtually all of the Bay Ridge’s legacy as a passenger route would be wiped out — except at East New York, where tangible traces remain. You can see it out the window traveling south on the elevated Canarsie Line (L train) just south of the Atlantic Avenue station.
The only remaining platform from the old New York and Manhattan Beach, East New York was in passenger operation from 1877-1924, with this concrete center platform in use beginning in 1915. It was in use for between just 8 and 9 years before service was eliminated! Note the trolley (or is it a diner?) on Atlantic Avenue over the tunnel entrance.
The Bay Ridge travels in an open cut while the Canarsie Line is on an overhead el along Van Sinderen Avenue, which long ago was called Vesta Avenue, after a minor goddess in Roman mythology. Just south of the New Lots L train station, however, both lines parallel each other at grade and we can see a now-cutoff interchange track between the two. As recently as about 15-20 years ago this track connection could be used to transfer LIRR units onto BMT trackage. It was never used this way, however; new cars could be brought on to BMT tracks using this method. Nowadays the transfer is made in Fresh Pond Yards or Coney Island Yards via the Cross Harbor Railway.
In the distant past, however, LIRR trains could and did use BMT tracks: there was a flyover that connected the LIRR with el tracks along the el on Fulton Street in the vicinity of Cleveland Street, and LIRR units then used the Broadway Line across the Williamsburg Bridge to a terminal at Chambers Street, which also formerly served the Manhattan Bridge. LIRR service across the Williamsburg ended in 1913, and the Chrystie Street track realignment in 1967-68 ended Manhattan Bridge service to Chambers.
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