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The New York City Subway Lines Project:
The BMT That Used To Be

The Brooklyn Rapid Transit company was chartered in 1896, consolidating approximately 60 different trolley, horse car, and railroad companies operating in Brooklyn and Queens. Like the IRT, they operated a system of elevateds, out of a terminal in Park Row and crossing the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan. Its first subway was the Broadway line, constructed betweem 1917 and 1920, though many of its elevateds have become part of the city subway system. The BRT went into bankruptcy in 1918 as a result of the Malbone Street wreck, which killed 97 people. It went into receivership, and was reorganized as the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit system in 1923. The company was sold to the city in 1940 for $175,000,000, after operating at a loss for most of its history.

The BMT trains were identified by number until 1965, when the TA unified the system identifiers. The present-day routes are the closest possible approximations.

Pre 1965

1--Broadway Express
Ditmars Blvd. to Coney Island, via Manhattan Bridge and Brighton Line (QB, then Q)

2--Broadway Express
Ditmars Blvd. to 95th Street-Fort Hamilton, via Montague Street tunnel (RR, then R)

3--Broadway Express
Ditmars Blvd. to Coney Island, via Manhattan Bridge and West End Line (B, then W)

4--Sea Beach service
to Coney Island, via Sea Beach Line, originating from any number of places. (N)

5--Culver service
to Coney Island, via Culver Line, originating from any number of places. (now served by F)

6--5th Avenue el, Brooklyn
from Park Row to 65th Street and 3rd Avenue, Brooklyn, with connections to, and possible service over, the West End and Culver lines. Terminated 1940

7--Franklin Avenue Shuttle
two services--one, the present-day Franklin Shuttle (S); two, from Franklin Avenue to Brighton Beach, summer months only, discontinued in 1963. The Franklin Avenue line is part of the original alignment of the Brighton Line, which joined the Fulton el at Franklin. The Malbone Street wreck of 1918 occurred just outside the Prospect Park station on this line.

8--Astoria line joint operation w/ IRT
see IRT entry

9--Flushing line joint operation w/ IRT
discontinued in 1949; see IRT entry.

10--Nassau Street Local
Metropolitan Ave. to Broad Street (M). M service was extended to Coney Island on the Brighton Line during rush hours, from 1974 until 1987, when it was switched over to its present service pattern on the West End Line.

11--Myrtle Avenue el
Metropolitan Ave. to Park Row, cut back to Myrtle and Jay after the Brooklyn Bridge trackage was damaged by fire in the early 1940's. Known as the MJ from 1965 to 1969. Discontinued in 1969, when the Myrtle el was torn down between Jay Street and Broadway. The Myrtle Avenue station, on what are the present-day Q and W lines, was abandoned in 1956; until then it provided a connection to the el.

12--Lexington Avenue el, Brooklyn
The Lexington Avenue el was a fairly redundant piece of trackage connecting the Broadway and Myrtle els. It left the Broadway el (heading inbound) just past the Gates Avenue station, and made stops at Reid, Sumner, Tompkins, Nostrand, Franklin, and Greene, before turning west on Grand Avenue, stopping at DeKalb and Myrtle, then joining the Myrtle el trackage. Service presumably ran out of Park Row terminal, over the Brooklyn Bridge, and could have terminated at Lefferts, Jamaica, or Canarsie.

13--Canarsie to Lefferts Blvd
Originating at Rockaway Parkway on the present-day L, to Broadway-East New York, where it was switched onto the Fulton Street el and terminated at Lefferts Blvd. This probably did not run for very many years, for obvious reasons--it doesn't GO anywhere.

14--Nassau Street Local
Rockaway Parkway to Broad Street, via Broadway el and Williamsburg Bridge. Was re-named the JJ in 1967 and discontinued shortly thereafter.

15--Nassau Street Local
168th and Jamaica Avenue, Queens, to Broad Street (extended to Coney Island, rush hours). (J) The 14 and 15 may have switched route designations at some point unknown to me.

16--Canarsie Line
Rockaway Parkway to 14th St.-8th Ave, Manhattan. (L)

Post 1965

Culver Shuttle--9th Avenue, Brooklyn, to Ditmas Avenue, Brooklyn. Connected the West End and Culver services. A remnant of the original Culver line, discontinued in 1973.

QB--The Brighton-Broadway express was known by this name between 1967 and 1985. The "B" stands for "Manhattan Bridge", there may have been a "QT" service provided through the Montague Street tube.

QJ--The original name of today's J service, to distinguish it from the JJ service to Canarsie. The Jamaica el was torn down between 121st and 168th Streets in the early 1980's, and service was provided by the Q49 bus east of 121st, until the 1989 opening of the Archer Avenue extension.

LL--Now known as the L. Rockaway Parkway to 14th St.-8th Av.

NX--Cross Brooklyn Express. Originating at 57th-7th, Manhattan, or 59th Street-4th Avenue, Brooklyn. Runs non-stop over the Sea Beach to Stillwell Avenue, then over the Brighton Line with stops at 8th Street, Ocean Parkway, and Brighton Beach. Operated summer-only in 1967 and 1968.

RR--Now known as the R. Originally ran to Ditmars Blvd, Astoria, and exchanged terminals with the N in the mid-1980's, not long after "The Great Renaming". A second RR service, originating at Chambers Street on the Nassau St. Line and running to Fort Hamilton, operated rush-hours only in the 1970s and 1980s.

TT--additional rush hour service on the West End Line, originating at Chambers and Nassau Sts. Ran briefly during the late 1960's.


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