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.”
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A Brooklyn horsecar.
Some Brooklyn “trolley dodgers” from 1895.
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 6018 at Fresh Pond depot.
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.
B&QT 1022 looks like it might be snowbound.
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.
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 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. 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.
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 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 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.
Steven L. Meyers passed away on April 8 after a brief illness. He was born in New York City in 1925 and became enamored with the streetcar lines serving the various boroughs. During WWII he served in the Pacific. He moved to Evanston, IL in 1963 and enjoyed a long career in exporting and customs.
Over the years, Steve assembled a substantial collection of New York streetcar photos and documents. He authored three popular books:
Steve was involved with several railfan organizations. An HO traction modeler, Steve was a member of the NorthWest Traction Group.
PS- While I cannot say that I knew Mr. Meyers well, we had corresponded a bit and talked on the phone a few times. He was part of that “Greatest Generation” of railfans, whose contributions to our hobby will be remembered for a long time to come. Steve was a longtime member of both the Electric Railroaders’ Association and Central Electric Railfans’ Association.
He was a curmudgeon who did not suffer fools gladly, and gave as well as he got, and it is our loss that he is gone. He also wrote three excellent books that I have enjoyed reading, and amassed a tremendous collection of information on New York-area traction lines that I hope will find a good home.
Before his death, Steve wrote an extensive history of the Metropolitan Traction Company (later called Metropolitan Street Railway Company, which became part of New York Railways Company), which remains unpublished. I hope that it will eventually see the light of day.
Mr. Meyers had agreed to participate in a slide program that I have been working on, but sadly, it was not meant to be.
When I traveled to the Seashore Trolley Museum last summer, I was able to purchase a copy of Mr. Meyers’ book Breezers in their gift shop. It turns out to have been a presentation copy that Mr. Meyers gave to another notable author, the late O. R. Cummings, who wrote perhaps 50 books specializing in Northeast traction. Sadly, both men have departed, but they have left us a legacy that will remain.
Those of us transit historians of today should never forget that we are standing on the shoulders of giants like O. R. Cummings and Stephen L. Meyers.