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South Brooklyn Terminal Railroad / Brooklyn Marginal Railroad

INDUSTRIAL, OFFLINE TERMINAL RAILROADS & RAIL-MARINE OPERATIONS
OF BROOKLYN, QUEENS, STATEN ISLAND, BRONX & MANHATTAN:


SOUTH BROOKLYN TERMINAL RAILROAD /
BROOKLYN MARGINAL RAILWAY
Bay Ridge, Sunset Park, Red Hook, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn Heights and Fulton Ferry, Brooklyn  

PROPOSED - NOT BUILT

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updated:
MONDAY, 14 MAY 2012 - 19:00

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   From what this author has been able to ascertain, there had been a proposal to link the Bay Ridge Yard of the New York, New Haven & Hartford / Long Island Rail Road, Brooklyn Army Terminal, Bush Terminal, 25th Street Terminal of the Delaware Lackawanna & Western and the three terminals (Atlantic, Baltic and Fulton) of the New York Dock with an elevated rail line, similar in construction to the partially elevated "Highline" of the New York Central along the West Side of Manhattan.

   Included in this proposal, as well as connecting the above existing terminals; would be the construction of one, possibly several, new terminal stations along the route.

   In 1913, the Committee on Water Front Improvement posted a letter to his honor, the Mayor William Gaynor extolling the virtues of the Brooklyn Marginal Railway:


Board of Trade Journal - June - October 1913
added 14 May 2012

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   Joe Roborecky, upon searching Google Books; came across the following multipage article in the Bulletin of the Merchants Association of New York "Greater New York" dated April 6, 1914, where it states the various terminals located in Brooklyn on that date, and at the conclusion of that article; mentions the proposed "Brooklyn Marginal Railway", (which in later documents is then referred to the South Brooklyn Terminal Railroad):

Greater New York - Bulletin of the Merchants Association of New York - April 6, 1914

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    According to the "Municipal Year Book of the City of New York of 1916" and the "Joint Report with Comprehensive Plan, 1920"; there is also mentioned this proposal to construct a marginal railroad from 65th Street in Bay Ridge along the shores of Upper New York Bay (east bank), crossing the Gowanus Canal, and along the east bank of the East River and to Brooklyn Bridge.

   Per the suggestion of its "Committee on Terminal Improvements and the Commissioner of Docks" dated June 6, 1913, the Board of Estimate and the Apportionment of the City of New York adopted a plan known as the "South Brooklyn Terminal Railroad" on July 30, 1914.

   It was intended that by building such a railroad, it would have connected the following:

   As a matter of record, $9,000,000 was appropriated for it's construction, with most of the money being expended for right of way, but no construction followed. This marginal railroad was to be 5 1/2 miles long and to have both float bridge and rail connections.

   It was primarily to be routed through Furman, Columbia, Van Brunt, Van Dyke and Halleck Streets, Second Avenue to 36th Street then First or Second Avenue to 65th Street by either street railway or elevated, similar to the New York Central "Highline" on Manhattan's West Side.

   In response to a request of the committee, another committee representing all the trunk line railroads entering the Port of New York had submitted a plan for the joint corporation which would operate this "municipal" railroad on a rental basis.

   At this time however, due to a law prohibiting railroad companies from owning securities of terminal companies, it was necessary for Legislature to pass an enabling act to permit and exception in this case. Bills were passed in 1913 and 1914, but it was not until 1915 did it receive the approval of Governor Charles Whitman. Changing financial conditions resulted in the Trunk Line Railroad Committee to withdraw their offer.

   It was hoped that the lure of greater efficiency and wider choices of freight terminals along the proposed route would attract interest, and the Board of Estimate reserved a portion of the New York City borrowing margin for this proposal, in the hopes it could be constructed by 1929. As we all know, that is when the Great Depression struck. Other than these two published reports, I have be unable to locate any documentation on why the proposal was withdrawn and when.

   Had this proposal been seen through to completion, and having being operated by the trunk line railroads, it does not take a great deal of thought on what would have happened to Bush Terminal and New York Dock, as they most likely would have been bought out or absorbed by a Class 1 railroad.  ..

   Further documents on the Brooklyn Marginal Railroad / South Brooklyn Terminal Railroad as credited:

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Joint Report with Comprehensive Plan & Recommendations
New York, New Jersey Port & Harbor Development Commission - 1920

Municipal Year Book of the City of New York - 1916

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   Paul Strubeck submitted the following. It is a full page spread in the New York Times, July 19, 1914 issue. I have left it in .pdf format (you'll need Adode Acrobat Reader to view), so you will be able to zoom in on the text and read clearly. Use your back arrow on your browser to return you here:

South Brooklyn Terminal Railway Press Release - New York Times - July 19, 1914

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