Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation
The Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation (BMT) was an urban transit holding company, based in Brooklyn, New York City and incorporated in 1923. It is now the BMT Division of the New York City Subway. Together with the , it is operationally described as B Division. The original BMT routes have the letters from J to R, as well as the Franklin Avenue Shuttle (S). The IND's and partly use BMT trackage, and the and supplement the and .
The BMT was the successor in bankruptcy to the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company. Both companies controlled subsidiaries which operated and supplied services for the great majority of the rapid transit and streetcar lines in Brooklyn, New York with extensions into Queens and Manhattan. The subsidiary that operated the elevated and subway lines was the New York Rapid Transit Corporation.
The predecessor opened its first short subway segment, consisting only of an underground terminal at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge at Delancey and Essex Streets in Manhattan on June 16, 1908. This line was extended three stations under Nassau Street to Chambers Street beneath the Municipal Building at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge on August 4, 1913. The BRT opened its first Brooklyn subway under Fourth Avenue on June 22, 1915, running over the Manhattan Bridge to a junction with the aforementioned Nassau Street Line at Canal Street . The BRT opened the first segment of its Manhattan main line subway, the Broadway Line, as far as Union Square on September 4, 1917. All of these subways but the first short segment were built by the City as part of the Dual Contracts.
Some of the former elevated system of the BRT, dating to 1885, remains in use today, though most of the surviving structure was either built new or rehabilitated between 1915 and 1922 as part of the Dual Contracts. One piece of structure, the elevated portion of the Franklin Avenue Shuttle, built in 1896 and 1905, was extensively rebuilt in 1999.
The BRT also took over the property of a number of surface railroads, the earliest of which, the Brooklyn, Bath and Coney Island Railroad or West End Line, opened for passenger service on October 9, 1863 between Fifth Avenue at 36th Street at the then border of Brooklyn City and Bath Beach in the Town of Gravesend, New York. A short piece of surface route of this railroad, near Coney Island Creek, is the oldest existing piece of rapid transit right-of-way in New York City, and in the U.S., having opened on June 8, 1864.
The BMT was a national leader in the transit industry, and was a proponent of advanced urban railways, participating in development of advanced streetcar designs, including the PCC car, whose design and advanced components influenced railcar design worldwide for decades. The company also sought to extend the art of rapid transit car design with such innovations as articulated (multi-jointed-body) cars, lightweight equipment, advanced control systems, and shared components with streetcar fleets. The BMT was also the original proponent of the all-four concept of integrated urban transit.
Unlike the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT), the other private operator of New York Subways, the BMT remained solvent throughout The Great Depression and showed a profit, albeit small in its last year, until the very end of its transit operations.
Sale to the City of New York
The BMT was pressed by the City administration of Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia to sell its operations to the City, which wanted to have all subway and elevated lines municipally owned and operated. The City had two powerful incentives to coerce the sale:
- the BMT was forced by provisions of the Dual Contracts to charge no more than a five-cent fare, an amount set in 1913, before the inflation of World War I.
- the City had the right of "recapture" of those lines that had been built or improved with City participation under those Dual Contracts. This meant that, if the City forced the issue, the BMT could have been left with a fragmented system and City competition in many of its market areas.
Current BMT lines in Manhattan are exclusively subway. Its Brooklyn lines include one long subway line, the BMT Fourth Avenue Line , and one subway connector, hooking the pre-existing BMT Brighton Beach Line to the main subway at a large flying junction at DeKalb and Flatbush Avenues. The remaining Brooklyn lines are on elevated structures, in open cuts or on embankments, or on short portions of surface trackage. Several Brooklyn lines extend into Queens, and these are elevated, except for the final station on the Myrtle Avenue Line, which is on the surface, and the last two stations of the BMT Jamaica Line, which is in a new (1989) subway (officially the BMT Archer Avenue Line ). The BMT's only line in Queens which comes directly from Manhattan, the BMT Astoria Line, is all elevated.
The BMT's predecessor BRT organized the rapid transit lines into two divisions, the Eastern Division and the Southern Division. When BMT service began on the Corona and Astoria Lines in 1923, a Queens Division was added. When the dual-operated Queens lines were divided between the BMT and IRT in 1949, the Queens Division was dissolved.
All the lines running to southern Brooklyn, including the Brighton-Franklin Line plus the Broadway-BMT Line as far as Queensboro Plaza and the Nassau Street Line as far as Chambers Street constitute the Southern Division. All the rest of the system are the Eastern Division except the Astoria and Flushing Lines, which were the Queens Division. Since 1949 the Astoria Line is part of the Southern Division and the Flushing is no longer a BMT Line.
The divisions maintained separate car fleets and maintenance bases, to the extent that some types of cars were assigned only to one division or the other, and common equipment, such as the BMT Standards, were nevertheless divided by car number between the divisions.
|Gate cars||to 1910||BU||All||Blocks of cars assigned to all three|
|Standards||1915-24||AB||East / South||Blocks of car assigned to Eastern and Southern|
|C-types||1923||C||Eastern||Converted from gate cars|
|World's Fair||1939||Q||Queens||Converted from gate cars|
The distinction between Eastern and Southern BMT Divisions continues to date, partly for operational and maintenance reasons, partly because of the Eastern Division's requirement that only 60-foor cars be used there. When the Chrystie Street Connection joined the IND and BMT operationally in 1967, it did not change the Division boundaries, but it did break the strict assignment of types of car to one division of another.
Prior to Chrystie Street, operation of a service on both divisions was exceedingly rare, until the QJ and RJ services were introduced in 1967. There were some instances of joint trackage, mainly on the Nassau Street Line and approaching Brooklyn Bridge. Currently, only the M service operates on both divisions, during rush hours.
When the BMT introduced line numbers in 1924, it divided them by division: 1 to 4, the Southern Division subway services, 5, 6 and 7, the Southern Division elevated services, 8 and 9 of the Queens Division. 10 to 16, the Eastern Division services.
In 1940, with City ownership, the Divisions were officially restyled as "Sections" to avoid having Divisions of Divisions: i.e., "BMT Division, Eastern Section" but they are usually still referred to as "Divisions" to the present.
BMT services were assigned numbers in 1924, which only appeared on the fronts of trains and in schedules. In 1960, the MTA brought the BMT into the IND letter system, and most services were reassigned as letters. Since then, many changes have been made; see the individual articles about the letters for more detail, and New York City Subway line, route and station nomenclature for more general information. Terminals shown in the table below are pre-letters. This chart shows the letter code assigned to each BMT service in 1960; important changes happened on a few lines between then and when the letters were first publicly used.
|BMT Southern Division|
|1||Brighton Beach Line||Queensboro Plaza - Stillwell Avenue (local via Tunnel)|
57th Street - Stillwell Avenue (local via Bridge)
Times Square - Brighton Beach (express via Bridge)
|2||R||Fourth Avenue (Brooklyn) Line||Queensboro Plaza - 95th Street (local via Tunnel)|
|3||T||West End Line||Times Square - Stillwell Avenue (express via Bridge)|
Chambers Street - Bay Parkway (local loop service via Nassau Street)
|4||N||Sea Beach Line||Times Square - Stillwell Avenue (express via Bridge)|
|5||SS||Culver Line||Chambers Street - Stillwell Avenue (local via Tunnel)|
Sands Street - Stillwell Avenue (local via Fifth Avenue Elevated)
|truncated on October 30, 1954|
|6||-||Fifth Avenue-Bay Ridge Line||Sands Street - 65th Street (local)||closed May 31, 1940|
|7||SS||Brighton-Franklin Line||Franklin Avenue - Prospect Park (local)||shuttle|
|BMT Queens Division|
|8||-||Astoria Line||Queensboro Plaza - Ditmars Avenue (local)||became the "other end" for service labels in fall 1949|
|9||7||Flushing Line||Queensboro Plaza - Main Street (local)||formerly known as Corona Line|
became -only in fall 1949
also known as World's Fair-Flushing Line
|BMT Eastern Division|
|10||M||Myrtle Avenue-Chambers Street Line||Chambers Street - Metropolitan Avenue (local)|
|11||MJ||Myrtle Avenue Line||Sands Street - Metropolitan Avenue (local)||closed October 4, 1969|
|12||-||Lexington Avenue Line||Park Row - Eastern Parkway (local)||closed October 13, 1950|
|13||-||Fulton Street Line||Park Row - Lefferts Avenue (local)||part west of Rockaway Avenue closed May 31, 1940; part west of Grant Avenue closed April 26, 1956, remainder became part of the IND April 29, 1956|
|14||K||Broadway (Brooklyn) Line||Canal Street - Rockaway Parkway (local)||formerly known as Canarsie Line before 16 was finished on July 14, 1928|
|15||J||Jamaica Line||Broad Street - 168th Street (local)|
|16||L||14th Street-Canarsie Line||Eighth Avenue - Rockaway Parkway (local)||formerly known as 14th Street-Eastern Line until July 14, 1928|
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