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The Lexington Avenue Elevated (also called the Lexington Avenue Line) was the first standard elevated railway in Brooklyn, New York, operated in its later days by the BRT, the BMT and then the City of New York. It was sometimes called the Old Main Line.
The section along and east of Broadway is now part of the BMT Jamaica Line, and is discussed in detail there.
Opening and initial extensionsEdit
The Brooklyn Elevated Railroad opened the line to passengers at 16:00 on May 13, 1885, with a five-cent fare for trains every five minutes. The original line ran from the Brooklyn Bridge (at Washington and York Streets) to the Gates Avenue station on Broadway. An extension east to East New York (now Broadway Junction) opened at 09:00 on June 15, 1885; this was part of a route to Coney Island via a transfer to the Long Island Rail Road and Brooklyn, Flatbush and Coney Island Railroad (now the BMT Brighton Line) or the New York and Manhattan Beach Railway (now mostly abandoned).
An extension west to Fulton Ferry at the East River opened at noon on November 11, 1885, and a further extension east to Van Siclen Avenue opened on December 3. The full line to Cypress Hills opened on May 29, 1893.
The completed route ran from a station underneath the Brooklyn Bridge via York Street, Hudson Avenue, Park Avenue, Grand Avenue, Lexington Avenue, Broadway, Fulton Street and Crescent Street to Cypress Hills station at Jamaica Avenue, all within Brooklyn city limits.
Park Avenue Line closedEdit
The line, first to open in Brooklyn, was also the first to be partially abandoned and dismantled. On December 24, 1891, the State Board of Railroad Commissioners approved abandonment of the portion of the line between the Fifth Avenue Elevated and the Myrtle Avenue Elevated, passing over Park Avenue and Grand Avenue and known as the Park Avenue Elevated. The line was abandoned after the Brooklyn Elevated Railroad and Union Elevated Railroad merged; the lines of the two companies were a long block from each other. All regular service was then routed via the Myrtle Avenue line to Sands Street, where connections could be made with the Brooklyn Bridge Railway; a track connection to the tracks over the bridge was later built. This was the only part of the New York City elevated system to be permanently closed without ever having been electrified.
Lexington Avenue Line closedEdit
The last train ran at 21:00 on October 13, 1950, with a small celebration, 65 years after the line opened. Transportation Commissioner G. Joseph Minetti joked that "if we had this many passengers riding regularly we wouldn't have to shut it down." Demolition began on November 1.
Portions still in operationEdit
The parts of the line over Broadway, Fulton Street, and Crescent are still in service as part of the BMT Jamaica Line and are served by J and Z trains. The portion from Alabama Avenue to short of the current Cypress Hills are the original (albeit reinforced) structure, and is the oldest such structure in the city.
As originally built, service ran from one end to the other. When the Park Avenue portion was closed, trains were rerouted onto the Myrtle Avenue Elevated to Sands Street, and later onto the Brooklyn Bridge to Park Row. At the east end, trains originally operated all the way to 168th Street. This service was later taken over by BMT Jamaica Line trains, and Lexington Avenue Line trains were cut back to Eastern Parkway, with rush-hour trains running as far as 111th Street. This service stayed until it was abandoned.
For more information about service patterns, see BMT 12.
Street and avenue name subheadings indicate the streets that the line operated over with stations at the cross-streets or locations described.
- Fulton Ferry
- York & Washington Streets (Walking connection to bridge)
- Bridge Street
- junction with Fifth Avenue Elevated
- Navy Street
- Cumberland Street
- Washington Avenue
- junction with Myrtle Avenue Elevated
- Myrtle Avenue
- DeKalb Avenue
- Greene Avenue
- Franklin Avenue
- Nostrand Avenue
- Tompkins Avenue
- Sumner Avenue
- Reid Avenue
- junction with Broadway Elevated (now the Jamaica Line)
- Gates Avenue
- Halsey Street
- Chauncey Street
- Manhattan Beach Crossing (later Manhattan Junction, then Eastern Parkway, now Broadway Junction) junction with Fulton Street Elevated, later a junction with the BMT Canarsie Line
- NYCsubway.org - Early Rapid Transit in Brooklyn, 1878 to 1913
- "My Recollection" - A ride on the last Lexington Avenue Elevated train
- A Great Day for Brooklyn, New York Times May 14, 1885 page 8
- A Short Cut to Coney Island, New York Times June 15, 1885 page 5
- City and Suburban News, New York Times November 12, 1885 page 8
- Brooklyn Elevated Roads, New York Times December 4, 1885 page 7
- City and Suburban News, New York Times December 15, 1885 page 8
- Elevated Tracks to Come Down, New York Times December 25, 1891 page 1
- B.M.T. 'El' Lines to Shift Service; City to Close 2 Sections This Week, New York Times May 27, 1940 page 19
- Brooklyn 'El' to Go Down, New York Times October 6, 1950 page 21
- Brooklyn 'El' Link Dies with Aplomb, New York Times October 14, 1950 page 16