This claustrophobic Brooklynite’s least favorite part of any day is that tunnel of horrors, the New York subway. Every MetroCard swipe earns a righteous grumble, and March 19, 2017 will forever be remembered as the day the MTA betrayed us with another ridiculous fare hike. Even though with every ride I am a few pages closer to finishing The Handmaid’s Tale, I can’t help but be distracted by the mysteries the train tracks may be hiding from me.
A friend of mine and Brooklyn native who has been a longtime MTA employee, recently relayed some pretty fascinating tidbits about our public transit system. For intense secrecy purposes in our current dystopia, this employee shall be called “Ofnick.” The following secrets will make you wonder as you pass through some of your daily stops – is this real life? Here are some Brooklyn subway stories to keep you informed through the coming days of terror.
1. Utica Avenue Crosstown Line
If you’ve ever looked at a subway map of Brooklyn and thought, “damn there’s a lot of empty space,” you’re not wrong. As early as 1910 there was talk of building a line from Bed Stuy’s Utica Ave. A/C stop all the way down to King’s Plaza. Anyone who’s taken the 25 bus transfers necessary to get themselves to Riis Beach knows how amazingly perfect this subway line would be in the summer! Alas.
If your head is always face down playing Candy Crush on your morning commute, you may not have noticed the restoration of Bill Brand’s art piece in an abandoned train stop along the Manhattan bound B/Q line that turns slits in the tunnel wall into a zoetrope of epic proportions.
3. Hidden Entrances
If you live off the Clark Street 2/3 or the Bushwick Ave-Aberdeen Street L, you may be well aware of the strange entrances to the subway that elude clueless folks faithfully following their Google Maps and not thinking twice about the strange placement of the subway’s green orbs. The former is housed inside the Hotel St. George in Brooklyn Heights, and the latter on the lot of a used car dealership.
4. 58 Joralemon Street
Do not envy the owner of this Brooklyn Heights townhouse for its gorgeous façade, for it is only that—a façade! This sham-brownstone is really a disguised MTA employee entrance to the subways, as well as a ventilation shaft cover-up.
5. New York City Transit Museum
This museum was once a fully functioning station on the A/C line, but due to its being so close to the Jay Street and Borough Hall stations, it was closed due to low ridership. It was also designed to connect to a potential Second Avenue Subway line in Brooklyn but who knows if the Brooklyn second avenue line will ever be a full reality.
6. The Franklin Avenue Shuttle
In the 1980s, this was considered one of the most dangerous lines in all of New York City. Hard to imagine now as you pass through the picturesque trees that line this outdoor track. Initially part of the Brighton Line running from Franklin Ave. and Fulton St. all the way to Coney Island, the Prospect Park Station at the shuttle’s terminus is where the Malbone Street Wreck occurred. The wreck, one of the worst in the subway’s history, occurred in 1918 when a train conductor didn’t slow to a permissible speed through a turn, killing himself and almost 100 passengers.
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