Trolley Dodgers

B&QT 1051 on the "Triborough Trolley Tour," June 6, 1948.

B&QT 1051 on the “Triborough Trolley Tour,” June 6, 1948.

This blog is called The Trolley Dodger, and although we are Chicago-based, we come by our Brooklyn roots honestly. My earliest U. S. ancestor on my mother’s side was Jan Stryker (1615-1697), who is considered one of the founders of Flatbush. He came to America from the Netherlands in 1652. You can read more about him here.

My mother has long been fascinated with Brooklyn, although she never traveled there. Growing up, she read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and it is still one of her favorite books.

Confessions of a Trolley Dodger From Brooklyn by Stan Fischler is one of my own favorite books. It’s a very heartfelt, warm and colorful reminiscence of growing up in Brooklyn in the 1930s and 40s. Fortunately Mr. Fischler, who is a broadcaster as well as author, is still going strong at age 83.

I took my first trip to New York in 1977 and have been to Brooklyn many times since. Even though the Dodgers left after the 1957 season, baseball has come back to Brooklyn in the form of the minor league Cyclones, who play at MCU Park on Coney Island near the old parachute jump. It’s a fun place to see a game.

Chicago and Brooklyn have some similarities. Both cities had extensive streetcar systems, which ended around the same time, Brooklyn’s in 1956, Chicago’s two years later. Both were involved in the development of the standardized PCC streetcar and were early purchasers in 1936. Brooklyn received 100 cars in 1936 and Chicago got 83. Both cities were pioneers in using PCC technology in rapid transit cars.

Just as Chicagoans revere Wrigley Field, home of the Cubs, Brooklynites have fond memories of long-gone Ebbets Field, home of the Brooklyn National Base Ball Club from 1913 through 1957. This team had a variety of nicknames over the years before settling on the Dodgers, including Bridegrooms, Robins, Brooks, and Superbas.

Here are some classic photos from the era of the Brooklyn “trolley dodgers” that we hope you will enjoy. To round out our trip to Brooklyn, we have included some additional traction photos from other parts of the Empire State.

These are some of our “New York values.”

-David Sadowski

Jan Stryker.

Jan Stryker.


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We’re close to the deadline for renewing this web site, but with your help, I am sure we’ll make it in the nick of time. (Just like this train on the old Market Street stub on Chicago’s “L” in this 1940s view.)


A Brooklyn horsecar.

A Brooklyn horsecar.

Some Brooklyn "trolley dodgers" from 1895.

Some Brooklyn “trolley dodgers” from 1895.

1915 THE BROOKLYN TROLLEY DODGERS

Brooklyn did not formally adopt the name Dodgers until 1932.

Brooklyn did not formally adopt the name Dodgers until 1932.

Brooklyn & Queens Transit PCC 1000 near Ebbets Field, home of the Dodgers. This was the sole PCC streetcar built by the Clark Equipment Company in 1936. This aluminum-bodied car has standee windows, which later became a fixture on postwar PCCs. Ebbets Feild fell to the wrecking ball in 1960, but car 1000 has been preserved by the Trolley Museum of New York, where it is undergoing restoration.

Brooklyn & Queens Transit PCC 1000 near Ebbets Field, home of the Dodgers. This was the sole PCC streetcar built by the Clark Equipment Company in 1936. This aluminum-bodied car has standee windows, which later became a fixture on postwar PCCs. Ebbets Feild fell to the wrecking ball in 1960, but car 1000 has been preserved by the Trolley Museum of New York, where it is undergoing restoration.

Brooklyn & Queens Transit 6018 at Fresh Pond depot.

Brooklyn & Queens Transit 6018 at Fresh Pond depot.

Brooklyn PCCs 1023 (left) and 1004 (right) on October 13, 1956, near the end of streetcar service.

Brooklyn PCCs 1023 (left) and 1004 (right) on October 13, 1956, near the end of streetcar service.

A close-up of a 1955 Chevy convertible from the previous photograph.

A close-up of a 1955 Chevy convertible from the previous photograph.

B&QT 1022 looks like it might be snowbound.

B&QT 1022 looks like it might be snowbound.

B&QT 1051 on the "Triborough Trolley Tour," June 6, 1948.

B&QT 1051 on the “Triborough Trolley Tour,” June 6, 1948.

B&QT 1027 on April 18, 1954, with one of New York's many public schools in the background.

B&QT 1027 on April 18, 1954, with one of New York’s many public schools in the background.

Brooklyn & Queens Transit 1000. This aluminum-bodied car received a steel front end from another PCC car after an accident.

Brooklyn & Queens Transit 1000. This aluminum-bodied car received a steel front end from another PCC car after an accident.

B&QT 1000 at Church Ave. at E 5th, "Triborough Trolley Tour," Apreil 22, 1951. (Trolley Museum of New York Collection)

B&QT 1000 at Church Ave. at E 5th, “Triborough Trolley Tour,” Apreil 22, 1951. (Trolley Museum of New York Collection)

B&QT 6008 on the Flatbush line. Michael T. Greene adds, "The car wasn’t built until 1930, and the light heads on the streetlight did not begin to appear on NYC streetlights until ca. 1939. The earliest this picture could have been was 1939." (Trolley Museum of New York Collection)

B&QT 6008 on the Flatbush line. Michael T. Greene adds, “The car wasn’t built until 1930, and the light heads on the streetlight did not begin to appear on NYC streetlights until ca. 1939. The earliest this picture could have been was 1939.” (Trolley Museum of New York Collection)

New York and Queens Transit 35 on the Jamaica line at 164th Street.

New York and Queens Transit 35 on the Jamaica line at 164th Street.

New York and Queens Transit 35. Streetcar service ended in 1937.

New York and Queens Transit 35. Streetcar service ended in 1937.

New York and Queens Transit car 32 on the Jamiaca line private right-of-way at 89th. This is what the late author Stephen L. Meyers referred to as a "backyard interurban," in his book Lost Trolleys of Queens and Long Island. We posted a tribute to Stephen L. Meyers here.

New York and Queens Transit car 32 on the Jamiaca line private right-of-way at 89th. This is what the late author Stephen L. Meyers referred to as a “backyard interurban,” in his book Lost Trolleys of Queens and Long Island. We posted a tribute to Stephen L. Meyers here.

Jamaica Avenue in 1932. (Trolley Museum of New York Collection)

Jamaica Avenue in 1932. (Trolley Museum of New York Collection)

Jamaica Avenue 324 at 169th St on November 7, 1929. (Trolley Museum of New York Collection)

Jamaica Avenue 324 at 169th St on November 7, 1929. (Trolley Museum of New York Collection)

Jamaica Central Railways Birney trolley 409, ex-Eastern Massachusetts 5052, on July 14, 1935. (Trolley Museum of New York Collection)

Jamaica Central Railways Birney trolley 409, ex-Eastern Massachusetts 5052, on July 14, 1935. (Trolley Museum of New York Collection)

Rochester Transit car 48, which ran on the Rochester subway. Passenger service was abandoned in 1956, and part of the subway was used for a highway. You can hear audio from the Rochester Subway on Railroad Record Club LP #30, which is available on compact disc in our Online Store.

Rochester Transit car 48, which ran on the Rochester subway. Passenger service was abandoned in 1956, and part of the subway was used for a highway. You can hear audio from the Rochester Subway on Railroad Record Club LP #30, which is available on compact disc in our Online Store.

Rochester Transit 64. Don's Rail Photos says, "64 was built by Cincinnati Car Co in February 1917, (order) #2130, as NYSR 64. It was served at Utica and transferred to Rochester. It became RTCo 64 in 1937."

Rochester Transit 64. Don’s Rail Photos says, “64 was built by Cincinnati Car Co in February 1917, (order) #2130, as NYSR 64. It was served at Utica and transferred to Rochester. It became RTCo 64 in 1937.”

According to Don's Rail Photos, Fonda Johnstown & Gloversville 129 was built by Brill in 1932, order #22961. It was sold as Bamberger in 129 in 1939 and retired in 1952. The body was sold to Utah Pickle Co. These were single-ended lightweight "Bullet" cars similar to the double-ended ones used on the Philadelphia & Western.

According to Don’s Rail Photos, Fonda Johnstown & Gloversville 129 was built by Brill in 1932, order #22961. It was sold as Bamberger in 129 in 1939 and retired in 1952. The body was sold to Utah Pickle Co. These were single-ended lightweight “Bullet” cars similar to the double-ended ones used on the Philadelphia & Western.

Bonus: Woody Allen Returns to Brooklyn, 2011

11 thoughts on “Trolley Dodgers

  1. Here in Los Angeles we have a sports team called “Dodgers”, apparently a reference to the fact that most people can’t watch the games on television.

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  2. I’ve always suspected the Dodgers move to LA upset the whole feng shui of the National League, and is the present curse on the Chicago Cubs.

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  3. Regarding your picture of 6008, it could NOT have been a 1925 photo. The car wasn’t built until 1930, and the light heads on the streetlight did not begin to appear on NYC streetlights until ca. 1939. The earliest this picture could have been was 1939

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  4. One more thing…on the boxscore of the Brooklyn-Phillies game, three names jump out at me: the 3rd baseman for the Phillies: Stock. If this was Milt Stock, he would play a critical role a bit more than 35 years later…on October 1, 1950, he sent a Brooklyn runner from 3rd with what would have been the winning run, and would have forced a Brooklyn-Phillies playoff for the National League pennant. The runner was thrown out at home plate, a tie game went into extra innings, and the Phillies would get three runs in the 10th inning on a home run by Dick Sisler, and the Phillies would win their 2nd National League Pennant. (The first pennant for the Phillies would be won a few weeks after the newspaper story.) The other two names are “Stengel”…I suspect he was Casey Stengel, who would be in baseball for almost 5 more decades, and “Klem”…probably Bill Klem, a long-time umpire, whose career still had 27 more years to run. Though not noted in the article, one of the pitchers for the Phillies in 1915, Stan Baumgartner, would go on to cover the 1950 Phillies for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

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  5. I am fascinated by the first photo, apparently a later addition. One wonders how fast that train was going (“Madison Street, last stop!”) if it dislodged the bumper, causing it to dangle over the street. CERA B-113, featuring detailed rosters of early CRT/CTA equipment, does not mention the eventual fate of 3053. Perhaps it is floating in the ether.

    The building in the background is the Hearst Building at 326 West Madison, headquarters of the Herald-American until 1961. It’s of interest to me since I was married there Friday, September 20, 1963 in divorce court (normally the judge specialized in divorce cases). The date happens to be the 10th anniversary of CA&E’s death knell, the cutback to Forest Park. We originally picked the previous Friday, but my mother-in-law-to-be thought Friday the 13th was unlucky.

    One other thing. I have never before seen a photo of a horsecar in Brooklyn. Presumably it is in downtown Brooklyn.

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    • When I was a kid, one of my favorite books was The Madhouse on Madison Street, the story of the Hearst papers in Chicago. Now you hear that phrase in connection with the United Center when the Blackhawks are playing.

      As I recall, the Tribune bought the American in 1959 and renamed it Chicago’s American. They moved it to Tribune Tower in 1961. For a few years in the early 1970s it was converted to a tabloid called Chicago Today before its demise. Sadly the other afternoon Chicago paper, the Daily News, only lasted a few years longer. The Daily News was always my favorite among the four main Chicago dailies (yes, I know there was a fifth, the Defender, but not widely distributed in the neighborhood where I grew up).

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      • If you like books about newspapers, hot off the press is “The Defender: How the Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America”.

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