Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
BMT West End Line
The West End Line, now a subway line in Brooklyn, New York City, is a branch line from the Broadway (Manhattan)-Fourth Avenue (Brooklyn) subway, serving the communities of Borough Park, New Utrecht, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach and Coney Island. It is served full time by trains of the D route, and weekdays by trains of the M route, which provides direct access to the financial district.
Although it was early dubbed the West End Line, it was also known as the Gunther's Road and the Bath Beach Line while it was a steam railroad. When planned as an elevated line, it was originally mapped as the New Utrecht Avenue Line but the common name prevailed after construction.
Opening as steam road
The West End Line was opened on October 5, 1863 as a steam dummy road, the Brooklyn, Bath and Coney Island Rail Road, to serve the communities between the Brooklyn city line and Bath Beach . On June 8, 1864, it was extended to Coney Island as an excursion railroad to bring beachgoers from downtown Brooklyn via a connection to its own horsecars at 36th Street and 5th Avenue, which further connected to horsecars of the Brooklyn City Railroad at 25th Street and 5th Avenue. The odd double transfer was made necessary by Brooklyn's refusal to allow the line to operate steam cars within its city limits.
The road took its common name from the area of its terminal on Coney Island, where a hotel of the same name, but unconnected to the railroad, existed. Its terminal was known as West End Terminal, a name which survived upon major rebuilding in 1919 as New West End Terminal before that name fell into disuse.
The road was reorganized in 1879 and again in 1885, the latter time changing its name to the Brooklyn, Bath and West End Railroad, formalizing the use of West End in the line's name. Before that time, the original steam dummy cars, which consisted of a locomotive and passenger car in one railroad-coach-type frame, were replaced by conventional steam locomotives pulling unpowered coaches.
A series of lease agreements between 1893 and 1899 put the West End in control of a series of other companies, the last putting it under the control of the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company (BRT) system on April 1, 1899.
Part of the Brooklyn elevated system
BRT control paved the way for the line to be connected to the elevated system, and in 1900 electric service began between Park Row, Manhattan, and Bath Beach, Brooklyn. Trains operated by third rail power to a ramp at 37th Street, and from that point, trains raised trolley poles to operate from overhead wire, mostly on streets, to Coney Island.
Part of the New York City subway system
Under the Dual Contracts of 1913, the line was rebuilt as an elevated line over New Utrecht Avenue, 86th Street and Stillwell Avenue, fully opening to Coney Island on July 21, 1917. The original surface right-of-way was retained for use by trolley cars to provide local service and protect the company's franchise.
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