The Fulton Elevated Line

This defunct elevated line ran along Pitkin Avenue, turning north at Euclid and then east again at Liberty Avenue. As with most of the early train lines, it was constructed by a private company, the Kings County Elevated Railroad Co. The first section completed ran from Fulton Ferry to Nostrand Avenue, and opened April 24, 1888. In East New York, the company did not have rights to the coveted Jamaica Avenue or Fulton Street routes (cemetery visitors were big business for the transportation companies) and was forced to turn south at Van Sinderen, then east at Pitkin Avenue. The extension into East New York to the Van Siclen Avenue station was completed November 18, 1889. The extension out to Grant Avenue was completed December 28, 1893. The Dual Contracts provided for an extension of the line from Grant Avenue out to Lefferts Boulevard in 1915.
The introduction of the IND subway line in 1936 was to eventually spell the demise of this line. Service along the elevated line out to Rockaway Avenue was discontinued in 1940, but the war delayed extension of the subway. That subway line is extended out to Euclid Avenue, and after creating a connection to the Dual Contracts extension in 1956, the entire elevated section in East New York was redundant.


Click on thumbnails to enlarge
Early Engine
If you want an idea of what was pulling these trains before electrification, this image, not in East New York, shows an early "City Line" train. (Given the name of the line it must be dated between 1893 and 1903) . The locomotive is not backwards, the "tender first" is part of the design.
Early maps
The first map, from 1912, shows the line all the out to the "City Line". The second map, from 1924, shows the Dual Contracts extension out to Lefferts Boulevard. The nycsubway.org website has a number of early maps and a lot of images of the line, for those interested in more material.
Van Siclen Station, opened Nov. 18, 1889
Two views from 1948. The first is looking west and the second is looking east.
Linwood Street Station, opened Feb 22, 1892
Two views from 1948. I believe the first is looking east and the second is looking west.
Linwood Street Station
These views, also from 1948, are of the platform.
Linwood Street Station
A 1948 side view of the station. On the right, we had a badly damaged negative from 1943 of the view west along Pitkin from Linwood Street in 1943. I managed to scan it, but there wasn't enough historical interest to merit getting the negative repaired.
Linwood Street, North from Pitkin Avenue
An early view looking north along Linwood under the el circa 1910.
Montauk Avenue Station, opened March 21, 1892
Both from 1948. A view of the west-bound platform, and looking west towards Berriman Avenue (thanks Tony!) with the Kinema Theater visible on the right.
Pitkin Avenue, Looking east from Berriman
This early postcard view shows how the original posts did not leave much room for traffic.
Chestnut Street Station, opened December 28, 1893
A 1948 view and a closeup.
Chestnut Street Station
A side view of the station and another view looking east. That's P.S. 159 in the distance in all those shots.
Euclid Avenue
As the line approached Doscher and Euclid, it turned north. The first picture is looking back towards the Chestnut Street Station with a view of the north side of Pitkin Avenue. On the right, a view looking west along Pitkin Avenue.
Euclid Avenue
Two 1948 views of the line running north on Euclid Avenue towards Liberty Avenue. The support structures were never updated, which restricted the types of cars which could run on the track. This was another logical reason to replace the line.
Crescent Street Station, opened December 28, 1893
Also from 1948. Looking back west from the station along Liberty Avenue. On the right, the view east.
Crescent Street
Two views from about the same era, from underneath the el. In the view on the right, that is Sunrise Highway (Conduit Boulevard) cutting in from behind the gas station.
Grant Avenue Station, opened December 28, 1893
This view from the late 1940s was taken along Liberty Avenue under the Grant Street station. The Dual contracts work in 1915 extended the line out to Lefferts Boulevard in Queens. The image on the right shows the difference in structural work between the 1893 project and the 1915 extension.
Accident, January 23, 1953
In January 1953 a truck hit one of the support posts right before Drew Street. Less than an hour later, a train carrying 180 passengers passed over this section, causing the tracks to buckle. Fortunately, the structure did not collapse and there were no serious injuries.
Grant Avenue connection, 1956
Ever since the IND subway line was opened in 1936, the days of the Fulton El were numbered. The first section to go was the Fulton Ferry to Rockaway Avenue stretch, 1940. The war delayed some plans, but by 1948 the subway line had been extended out to Euclid Avenue, and from there the track rises back above ground and connects with the line after Grant Avenue. That connection can be seen on the right hand side of this picture, whcih is looking east.
Demolition, 1958
This January 11, 1958 Times article announces the beginning of demolition.
El Removal
I've had 2 pictures sent to me by site fans of the el removal along Pitkin Avenue. The view on the left (from Bob Reddington) is by Ashford Street and the one on the right (from Liz Sanford) is Cleveland Street.
El Remains
I took this shot in late 2008 of a remnant of the line, as it curves from Van Sinderen towards Pitkin. This is not the original structure from the 1880s. The Atlantic Avenue station was rebuilt during the Dual Contracts so this dates closer to 1915.
Video
Wish you could ride the line again? There is a DVD sold by a site fan, Al Zelasco. I have uploaded a sample that was shot from the front car. (Most of the footage is from ground level). You can find the DVD on EBay. The video file is a little large (30mb) and depending on your browser and media player settings, may take a few minutes to load. Click here to play the video clip


Resources

I want to credit several out-of-print books that were used to research the story of this line and may be of interest to other ENY or train history fans. I have found all of these on EBay over the years.

The Tracks of New York, No.2 Brooklyn Elevated Railroads; Alan Paul Kahn and Jack May
A History of the New York City Subway System, Part II - Rapid Transit in Brooklyn; Joseph Cunningham and Leonard DeHart
The Brooklyn Elevated; James C. Greller and Edward B. Watson
Subway Cars of the BMT; James C. Greller