by Kevin Walsh

The other day, I posted a photo of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues in about 1910, remarking on what has changed and what has stayed the same since then. Today I will move the dials of the H.G. Wells time machine ahead 30 years, to 1940, and giddily take a look at what has transpired since then.

There’s plenty going on here, at the X formed by Atlantic and Flatbush. Trolleys still roamed the streets as most routes would until the mid-1940s, with the last trolley dying off in 1956. Mayor LaGuardia did not care for them and listened closely to the automotive lobby, and buses were soon to take control of the streets.

I’ll make an admission. I feel a pang of pain whenever I see a photo of an elevated train being demolished. I want as much transit as possible: subways, buses/trolleys, elevated trains, commuter railroads. I think the 1930s was Peak Transit in NYC, as all of Manhattan’s els were still there, as well as Brooklyn’s Myrtle Avenue and Bronx’s Third Avenue Els. I realize many people disagreed about els. It was dark and noisy beneath them, and crime lurked. But had they survived, we can do things about all of that: dampen the noise, provide adequate police protection, and better lighting. I wish all the els had survived. The 5th Avenue El ended service here in 1940 and was torn down soon after.

At right is a Bickford’s restaurant. Bickford’s was a restaurant chain once dominant in the NYC area founded by Samuel Longley Bickford (1885-1959). The first Bickford’s opened in 1921 and the chain eventually expanded to over 100 locations in the NYC area, New England, Florida and California,where restaurants were known as Foster’s Cafeterias.

All of NYC’s Bickford’s, however, were closed by 1982. In 2020 only two Bickford’s remain open in Burlington and Woburn, Massachusetts. The one in this location, however, remained in existence at least into the 1960s and I even seem to remember passing it on bus rides while I was attending high school nearby in the early 1970s.

As mentioned on the first Flatbush and Atlantic page, linked above, the former Long Island Rail Road Brooklyn terminal can be seen at right; it was built in 1903 and demolished in the 1980s, leaving an open pit for nearly 20 years before Atlantic Terminal shopping and a new LIRR terminal arrived in the 2000s.

At left is downtown Brooklyn’s version of a Corvington lamppost, known in the streetlighting catalogue from 1934 I have as an “Old Edison Post No.4.” Brooklyn had a number of such posts in use on main and side streets beginning in the 1910s. They were used in downtown Brooklyn as well as the neighborhoods of Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens, formerly grouped under the moniker of “South Brooklyn.” Elsewhere in Brooklyn, the usual castirons such as Bishop Crooks, Type F, etc. were used, and even in downtown Brooklyn, these styles had already made a major incursion.

To my chagrin, none of the Old Edison posts has survived anywhere (though as a very young kid riding the buses, I seem to recall one or two still around). I’d love it if manufacturers such as Spring City, PA would make a mold of the Old Edisons for Brooklyn use.

As you can see, the Old Edison in the photo has a new Bell incandescent fixture. These first showed up around 1938 or 1939, along with Gumballs, and replaced the white-glass Acorn fixtures from the 1910s during the 1940s.

Check out the ForgottenBook, take a look at the gift shop, and as always, “comment…as you see fit.”



Bill November 13, 2020 - 11:11 pm

That person running across the street: an actual Brooklyn [trolley] dodger!

Ed Findlay November 14, 2020 - 12:46 am

Atlantic Terminal was not left a “hole in the ground”

It was torn down, but it sure as hell WAS NOT A HOLE IN THE GROUND. It was an empty lot, but it was also the worst time for the city to build anything major like that as you well know. The 80s were hell for the city, especially trying to get financing for something massive like a new development on top of a railroad terminal in BROOKLYN!

Context is key, it was bad timing and horrible history. It was never a hole in the ground, it was leveled but it wasn’t a hole in the ground.

Sorry, Kevin, but your commentary sometimes needs to cut it out.

Walter November 15, 2020 - 7:42 pm

Gee Ed, take it easy!

Kevin Walsh November 16, 2020 - 11:06 am

I concur

James Dean Rivera November 17, 2020 - 2:53 pm

It was a hole in the ground. What are you talking about? I passed by that either on the B41 or Dollar Van for 10 years until Atlantic Terminal was built there

chris November 14, 2020 - 2:39 pm

What is the tall building on the right?

Steve November 15, 2020 - 7:40 pm

The Williamsburg’s Savings Bank

Andy November 14, 2020 - 9:35 pm

The trolley on Flatbush Ave. (under the elevated’s remains) is on either the #67-7th Ave. or #41 Flatbush Ave. route. Trolley on the left is on Atlantic Ave. and is on the #63 5th Ave. route. Brooklyn trolleys did not display route numbers on their headsign curtains, except for newer PCCs that ran on the #67 until 1951 Replacement buses did display route numbers. All trolleys in the photo are heading southbound

Mitchell Pak November 16, 2020 - 4:11 pm

I agree with Kevin – I would love for all of the prior transit facilities to still be up and running, including all of the closed underground stations. I can’t imagine the cost of running a full subway system and a comprehensive elevated system at the same time, but it would have been something to see.

redstaterefugee November 20, 2020 - 9:31 am Reply
Tal Barzilai November 17, 2020 - 12:53 am

Sometimes, I could never understand what was the LIRR thinking about allowing for the air rights that let Forest City Ratner build on top of their terminal building?

Anonymous November 20, 2020 - 11:12 am

it is a matter of definition as 2 weathr it wos o hole or not .if u looked beyond the fence u saw o tin roof covering the tracks. i worked 4 the lirr and much 2 my regret was invovled in its demo. asu c im no good with the comptr or spelling


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