Trolley trash! Workers tear up history near Brooklyn Bridge Park

The Brooklyn Paper
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Fulton Ferry Landing preservationists are fuming that construction workers trashed a piece of history at the entrance to Brooklyn Bridge Park — set to open this month — that could have helped create a new trolley service.

Late last year, workers at the end of Old Fulton Street discovered the old rails dating back to the 1920s. But after consulting with archeologists and city landmarks officials, they ripped up the tracks and threw them in the trash.

“No one wants to recognize that this was a transportation hub,” said Richard Mauro, who’s lived in the area for 40 years. “No matter how you look at it the trolley tracks are part of the street’s history. They should not have been removed.”

The tracks, which were covered by asphalt for decades, are a relic of a trolley service on Old Fulton Street that ran from the late 1800s to the 1930s. They were removed from the road as part of a larger sewer and water main reconstruction project.

City officials downplayed the tracks’ significance.

“They are not contributing features to the character of the Fulton Ferry historic district,” said Landmarks spokeswoman Elisabeth de Bourbon.

De Bourbon added that DUMBO is noted for train tracks, not trolley tracks. And, besides, Fulton Ferry Landing’s distinguishing characteristic was the ferry landing, not the old-school mode of transportation that rumbled away from it.

Still, some insist that the old rails are even more valuable because they can be used to reinstate trolley service, an unrealized dream of transit advocates for years.

“The tracks must still have at least 25 years of use in them,” said Bob Diamond, a Brooklyn legend ever since he discovered a long-abandoned trolley tunnel under Atlantic Avenue almost 30 years ago.

“The asphalt is a pretty good preservative. The ones on Old Fulton Street could have been used to restore trolley service in Downtown Brooklyn.”

Recent talk of the elimination of the B25 bus line resurrected concerns of a lack of public transportation to bring people to the highly anticipated new park along the Brooklyn Heights waterfront. The bus line was saved, but the concern is still there.

Many have said that a trolley — that classic symbol of the borough itself — would be a convenient and stylish attraction that would deliver visitors from Downtown to the hard-to-get-to park.

But an architect supervising construction in the area said the tracks in question were not part of a larger infrastructure that could have been of use for a new trolley.

“The tracks were just one section of disassociated tracks. They were removed and there hasn’t been evidence of any more,” said Alyssa Loorya, a head archeologist who surveyed the area for the city.

But a Brooklyn Paper reporter visited the historic street multiple times and saw different tracks being removed over a span of a couple days. A construction worker who was cutting and ripping out the tracks said, “The tracks are all over the place. We have been removing big sections all day.”

Updated 5:16 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

al pankin from downtown says:
they should have been removed fifty years ago.
Jan. 22, 2010, 3:13 pm
Trackman from DUMBO says:
About the same time you should've been removed, Al.
Jan. 22, 2010, 5:13 pm
fultonferryres from fultonferry says:
Isn't this article just a wee bit dated? The photo shows a trench on Old Fulton Street, and it was filled and repaved a month ago.
Jan. 23, 2010, 1:05 pm
Otis Pierce-All from Brooklyn Heights says:
Ya want historical? Rebuild the elevated!
Jan. 25, 2010, 10:29 am
philip from dumbo says:
idiots train trolly tracks in the road is the exact reason dumbo differs from say south steet seaport ..

it is a defining characteristic .. If Landmarks spokeswoman Elisabeth de Bourbon had her way they would of torn down the old fireboat station ( now serves ice cream ) years ago because it is not contributing features to the character of the Fulton historic district. what does a non working fire house have to do with the neighborhood... she might have said...

I wonder if she lives in dumbo .. Seems whats important to the neighbor hood is decided by people out of bounds.
Sept. 16, 2010, 6:10 am
philip from dumbo says:

Landmarks Preservation Commission job is to “safeguard the city’s historic, aesthetic and cultural heritage,”

at one time nyc had most of its north south streets with rails in them or later over them . now they are almost non existent visual reminders of the "old days".

Thank god we didnt put Landmarks spokeswoman Elisabeth de Bourbon in charge of the HIGHLINE in the meat district .

The fireboat house was built in the 1920's ..
maybe we should get rid of everything that is only 90 years old...
Sept. 16, 2010, 6:25 am

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