BMT Jamaica Line

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BMT Jamaica Line
NYCS-line-black-Jamaica.svg
The J and Z trains serve the entire BMT Jamaica Line. The M serves the line west of Myrtle Avenue.
Overview
Type Rapid transit
System New York City Subway
Termini Marcy Avenue
121st Street
Stations 22
Operation
Opened 1885-1918
Owner City of New York
Operator(s) New York City Transit Authority
Character Elevated
Technical
Number of tracks 2-3
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Electrification 600V DC third rail

The Jamaica Line (also known as the Broadway Line or Broadway (Brooklyn) Line) is an elevated rapid transit line of the B Division of the New York City Subway, in Brooklyn and Queens, New York City, United States. It runs from the Williamsburg Bridge southeast over Broadway to East New York, Brooklyn, and then east over Fulton Street and Jamaica Avenue to Jamaica, Queens. In western Jamaica, the line goes into a tunnel, becoming the lower level of the Archer Avenue Line in central Jamaica. The J and Z trains serve the entire length of the Jamaica Line, and the M serves the line west of Myrtle Avenue.

The longest elevated line in the system, the Jamaica Line includes the oldest existing elevated structure in the subway system - the original 1885 line of the Brooklyn Elevated Railroad, the BMT Lexington Avenue Line - between Gates Avenue and Van Siclen Avenue, as well as the newest elevated structure - the 1988 ramp into the underground Archer Avenue Line.

When the Brooklyn–Manhattan Transit Corporation (BMT) operated the line railroad directions were east and west, generally in agreement with compass direction.[not verified in body] However under NYCT, the directions used are north and south, which replaced the BMT's old west and east respectively. This reclassification resulted in services which ran through the BMT Nassau Street Line to Downtown Brooklyn having two south ends. To eliminate any confusion, the directions of train services in the eastern division were switched, with trains running towards Jamaica being considered Northbound.[1] The KK (later K) and current M services were an exception to this, with Jamaica or Metropolitan Avenue remaining the south terminal, since they used the Chrystie Street Connection from the Jamaica Line to the IND Sixth Avenue Line.

Description[edit]

BMT Jamaica Line
168th Street (demolished)
160th Street (demolished)
Sutphin Boulevard (demolished)
Queens Boulevard (demolished)
Metropolitan Avenue (demolished)
BMT Archer Avenue Line
121st Street
111th Street
104th Street
Woodhaven Boulevard
85th Street – Forest Parkway
75th Street – Elderts Lane
Cypress Hills
Crescent Street
Norwood Avenue
Cleveland Street
Van Siclen Avenue
Alabama Avenue
IND Fulton Street Line
East New York Yard
BMT Canarsie Line
Broadway Junction
IND Fulton Street Line
Chauncey Street
Halsey Street
Gates Avenue
former connection to BMT Lexington Avenue Line
Kosciuszko Street
BMT Myrtle Avenue Line
Myrtle Avenue (upper level abandoned)
BMT Myrtle Avenue Line
Park Avenue (demolished)
Flushing Avenue
Lorimer Street
IND Crosstown Line
Hewes Street
Marcy Avenue
Driggs Avenue (demolished)
Broadway Ferry (demolished)
BMT Nassau Street Line
Three tracks over Broadway
Elevated ramp to Archer Avenue

The Jamaica Line includes a variety of structures. The original BMT Jamaica Line started from Broadway Ferry, Brooklyn. The line was two tracks, and connected with Marcy Avenue, from the west. This section, which was called the "Broadway Spur", has a short, but easily seen remnant (about one-half of a block in length, no tracks, just maintenance buildings) west and south of where the line curves toward the Williamsburg Bridge.

From Marcy Avenue to a point just before Alabama Avenue the line operates on the structure of old elevated railways, but substantially rebuilt and upgraded to a three-track line around World War I under the Dual Contracts of 1913. From Alabama Avenue to just before the current Cypress Hills station, the Jamaica Line operates on the oldest elevated structure in New York City, a steel-reinforced cast iron line opened in 1893. Interestingly enough, west of Alabama Avenue, a third middle trackway exists and elevates over the other two tracks, ending just west of the Alabama Avenue station. This track was intended to be an express track,[2] but engineering studies completed after the work started indicated that the vibration of trains passing over the stations would be too severe and would literally shake the stations apart.

Between Crescent Street station and Cypress Hills, the line runs on an "S-curve", turning north from Fulton Street onto Crescent Street, then east onto Jamaica Avenue. The curves are at nearly 90-degree angles, forcing trains to drastically reduce speed to 15 miles per hour in order to traverse them.[3] The line east of Cypress Hills is known as the Jamaica Avenue Line, the newest section of the line which was built under the Dual Contracts. This structure has provisions on its entire length for three tracks,[4][5][6] but a center track was never built, with the exception of a layup track at 111th Street and another between 160th Street and 168th Street on the now-demolished original end of the line.

Four curves on the line, including the two on the Jamaica Avenue "S-curve", rank among the 30 sharpest curves in the subway system.[3]

History[edit]

The Union Elevated Railroad, leased to the Brooklyn Elevated Railroad, opened an elevated line above Broadway from Gates Avenue northwest to Driggs Avenue in Williamsburg on June 25, 1888.[7] This was a branch of the existing Lexington Avenue Elevated, which then ended at Van Siclen Avenue; Broadway trains ran between Driggs and Van Siclen Avenues.[8] A popular free transfer was available at Gates Avenue to Lexington Avenue trains towards Downtown Brooklyn.[9] The Broadway Elevated was extended to Broadway Ferry on July 14, 1888.[10]

An extension of the Broadway Elevated east to Cypress Hills, over Fulton Street and Crescent Street, opened on May 30, 1893,[11] and the company extended both Lexington Avenue and Broadway trains to the new terminal.[11] This extension incorporated portions of the recently demolished Park Avenue Elevated.[12] A connection to the Williamsburg Bridge was established in 1908, rendering the two westernmost stations on the Broadway Ferry Branch obsolete by July 3, 1916. The eastern extension along Jamaica Avenue to 168th Street was opened on July 3, 1918.[4][13]

Joint service with the Long Island Rail Road's Atlantic Branch existed between Norwood Avenue and Crescent Street stations with a connection built at Chestnut Street in Brooklyn. This allowed BRT trains to access the Rockaways and Manhattan Beach, while affording the LIRR a connection into Manhattan to the BRT terminal located at Park Row over the Brooklyn Bridge (this service predated the opening of the East River Tunnels to Penn Station). Nevertheless, the Interstate Commerce Commission ended this service in 1916 when they classified different operating standards between rapid transit trains and regular heavy rail railroads such as the LIRR.

Powerhouse at 144th Street adjacent to a former section of the elevated tracks.

By the time the Independent Subway System extended the Queens Boulevard Line along Hillside Avenue in Jamaica in 1937, residents became dissatisfied with the Jamaica El. Long after the consolidation of the BMT with the IRT and IND in 1940, MTA began proposing an underground replacement as part of their Program for Action in the mid-1960s. Construction for the Archer Avenue Subway began in 1973, and used a portal intended for the formerly proposed Van Wyck Boulevard line to Rockaway Avenue (Boulevard). However, the city was hit by a major financial crisis during the mid-1970s delaying the completion and opening of the new line. Regardless of these circumstances, the three easternmost stations (Sutphin Boulevard, 160th, and 168th Streets) were closed in 1977, with most of that segment of the line being demolished in 1985, and the two others west of that point (Metropolitan Boulevard and Queens Boulevards) were closed in 1985, with the line there being demolished in 1990. The Archer Avenue subway was opened in 1988. Two remnants of the former Jamaica El in Jamaica itself still exist today; the 144th Street Powerhouse, which is now used for the Archer Avenue Subway, and the station house and tower for 168th Street, which can be found on the southeast corner of Hillside Avenue and 165th Street and is now used as a women's clothing store.

Eastern Jamaica Line third track proposals[edit]

On July 7, 1934, the Transit Commission ordered that the BMT construct a transformer in Woodhaven at 77th Street, which would provide more power, and therefore it would allow the construction of a third track on the Jamaica El.[14]

In 1958, the New York City Transit Authority first proposed the installation of a third track on the Jamaica El to provide peak-direction express service.[15]

The plan would have eliminated two tight right-angle curves that slow trains down on Crescent Street, by building a new elevated structure that would extend from Jamaica Avenue to Fulton Street and from 80th Street southwest to about Grant or Nichols Avenues. A 50- to 75-foot right-of-way would have been needed, and since the line would have cut diagonally across several streets, 75 homes were slated to be torn down. Since the new elevated structure would take a more direct route, some local stations would be eliminated. The stops at Cypress Hills and Elderts Lane would have been eliminated, and a new stop replacing them would have been built around 75th Street and Rockaway Boulevard or 91st Avenue. As part of the 1959 capital budget of the New York City Transit Authority, $25,250,000 was allocated for the construction of a third track on the Jamaica Elevated from 160th Street to Alabama Avenue. The stations from Alabama Avenue to and including Crescent Street are: Alabama Avenue, Van Siclen Avenue, Cleveland Street, Norwood Avenue and Crescent Street. All of these stations have center island platforms, and to allow for the construction of a third track, the stations would be demolished and replaced with side platforms. The Alabama Avenue and Van Siclen Avenue stops would be replaced by one stop in between the two stations to allow for better spacing, 1/2 a mile, between stations. The Cleveland Street station would have been replaced with a station farther to the west of the existing station, and the same would have been done with Crescent Street. The Norwood Avenue station would not have been replaced.[16]

A suggested alternative that would not have required the demolition of homes would have been to have the elevated structure between Eastern Parkway and Cypress Hills replaced, with a new structure that would run directly via Jamaica Avenue with new stops built.[17]

On October 9, 1958, because of a lack of funds and because of community opposition, the City Planning Commission removed the project from the capital outlay budget.[18]

On July 14, 1959, the third-track project was put into the New York City Transit Authority's 1960 budget.[19] On August 18, 1959, the New York City Transit Authority through an appeal made by the Authority's chairman, Patterson, tried to obtain approval from the City Planning Commission for a $27 million project to construct a third track on the BMT Jamaica Line. The instillation of the third track would have attracted passengers from the overcrowded IND Queens Boulevard Line, as there would be significant time savings between 168th Street and Marcy Avenue. The Planning Commission killed the plan in the prior year, because of insufficient evidence that there was a need for such a project.[20]

On June 18, 1959, skip-stop service was implemented on the Jamaica El, with trains stoping at alternate stations between 168th Street and Eastern Parkway with the hope of enticing riders from the IND Queens Boulevard Line to use the new skip-stop service. If skip-stop service was a success, the Transit Authority would have shelved the triple-tracking project.[21]

The project, as it was planned in 1962, would have necessitated the condemnation of about 200 homes and would have cost $35 million. The only express stop between 168th Street and Eastern Parkway would have been Woodhaven Boulevard, which would have needed to be reconstructed to allow for express platforms to be built.[15]

The project had serious community opposition, with the district leader of the 13th Assembly District, Arthur A. Gray, saying that the project was "an unnecessary and unwarranted renovation of an antiquated elevated structure in which the transportation needs of our community are sacrificed for the convenience of the many Nassau residents who board the line at its Jamaica terminus." The project was thought as becoming worthless in a few years, as Jamaica was planned to become a big shopping center, and therefore, the el would have had to come down. Suggestions were made to raze the elevated in this section to allow for a shopping mall in Woodhaven.[15]

The City Planning Commission continued to oppose the project on the grounds of the "inadequacies of the project".[15]

Service patterns[edit]

  Time period Section of line
Rush hours Middays,
evenings,
and weekends
Late nights
NYCS-bull-trans-J.svg
  • peak-direction express west of Myrtle Avenue
  • skip-stop east of Myrtle Avenue
local entire line
NYCS-bull-trans-Z.svg no service
NYCS-bull-trans-M.svg local
  • west of Myrtle Avenue (all times except nights)
  • Myrtle Avenue only (late nights)

The line has had two major service patterns: the 14 Broadway (Brooklyn) Line (earlier called the Canarsie Line, before that line was connected to the 14th Street Line) and the 15 Jamaica Line. Eventually, the 14 became the KK (which became the K in 1974) and the 15 the J; the K was eliminated in 1976. The Z was introduced in 1988 to provide skip-stop service, which had been done by the 14/K and 15/J at times.

Etymology[edit]

From its accession by the BRT to and beyond city ownership in 1940, the portion of the line from its western terminus to Cypress Hills was known as the Broadway El or the Broadway-Brooklyn Line. Beyond that point it was known as the Jamaica Avenue El or the Jamaica Line. Subsequent to city takeover, the dividing line between the Broadway and Jamaica Avenue Lines was often considered to be the more westerly station at Eastern Parkway, now known as Broadway Junction.

Since the discontinuance of separate Broadway-Brooklyn services, the entire line is now known as the Jamaica Line.

Station listing[edit]

Station service legend
Stops all times Stops all times
Stops all times except late nights Stops all times except late nights
Stops weekdays only Stops weekdays only
Stops all times except rush hours in the peak direction Stops all times except rush hours in the peak direction
Stops rush hours in peak direction only Stops rush hours in the peak direction only
Time period details
Neighborhood
(approximate)
Handicapped/disabled access Station Tracks Services Opened Transfers and notes
Jamaica Demolished section of original line
168th Street July 3, 1918[4] Closed September 10, 1977,[22] replaced by Q49 bus. Bus abandoned December 11, 1988.
160th Street July 3, 1918[4] Closed September 10, 1977,[23] replaced by Q49 bus. Bus abandoned December 11, 1988.
Sutphin Boulevard July 3, 1918[4] Closed September 10, 1977,[23] replaced by Q49 bus. Bus abandoned December 11, 1988.
Queens Boulevard July 3, 1918[4] Closed April 15, 1985,[24] replaced by Q49 bus. Bus abandoned December 11, 1988.
Metropolitan Avenue July 3, 1918[4] Closed April 15, 1985,[25] replaced by Q49 bus. Bus abandoned December 11, 1988.
 
Begins as continuation of BMT Archer Avenue Line (J all times Z rush hours, peak direction)
Richmond Hill 121st Street all J all except rush hours, peak direction Z rush hours, peak direction July 3, 1918[4] Q10 bus to JFK Airport
111th Street all J all times May 28, 1917[26]
104th Street all J all except rush hours, peak direction Z rush hours, peak direction May 28, 1917[26] Earlier 102nd Street
Woodhaven Woodhaven Boulevard all J all times Z rush hours, peak direction May 28, 1917[26]
85th Street – Forest Parkway all J all times May 28, 1917[26] Earlier Forest Parkway
75th Street – Elderts Lane all J all except rush hours, peak direction Z rush hours, peak direction May 28, 1917[26] Earlier Elderts Lane
Cypress Hills Cypress Hills all J all times May 30, 1893[11]
Crescent Street all J all times Z rush hours, peak direction May 30, 1893[11]
Norwood Avenue all J all except rush hours, peak direction Z rush hours, peak direction May 30, 1893[11]
Cleveland Street all J all times May 30, 1893[11] Earlier Cleveland Avenue
East New York Van Siclen Avenue all J all except rush hours, peak direction Z rush hours, peak direction December 3, 1885[27]
Alabama Avenue all J all times Z rush hours, peak direction September 5, 1885[28]
Connecting tracks to East New York Yard
Center express track begins (no regular service to Myrtle Avenue)
Merge to local tracks with connection from BMT Canarsie Line (no regular service)
Broadway Junction all J all times Z rush hours, peak direction June 14, 1885[29] A all times C all except late nights (IND Fulton Street Line)
L all times (BMT Canarsie Line)
Connection to LIRR at East New York
Earlier Manhattan Beach Crossing or Manhattan Junction or Eastern Parkway
Connecting track to East New York Yard
Bedford–Stuyvesant/
Bushwick
Chauncey Street local J all except rush hours, peak direction Z rush hours, peak direction July 18, 1885[30]
Halsey Street local J all times August 19, 1885[31]
Gates Avenue local J all except rush hours, peak direction Z rush hours, peak direction May 13, 1885[32]
Kosciuszko Street local J all times June 25, 1888[7] B46 Select Bus Service
Merge with BMT Myrtle Avenue Line (M all times)
Myrtle Avenue all J all times M all times Z rush hours, peak direction June 25, 1888[7] moved from Stuyvesant Avenue for the Myrtle Avenue Elevated transfer in April 1889[33]
Park Avenue June 25, 1888[7] Closed and demolished between 1912 and 1921[34]
Williamsburg Handicapped/disabled access Flushing Avenue local J all times except weekdays 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., peak direction M all times except late nights June 25, 1888[7]
Lorimer Street local J all times except weekdays 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., peak direction M all times except late nights June 25, 1888[7]
Hewes Street local J all times except weekdays 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., peak direction M all times except late nights June 25, 1888[7]
Crossovers to local tracks (J weekdays until 8:00 p.m., peak direction Z rush hours, peak direction)
Handicapped/disabled access Marcy Avenue local J all times M all times except late nights Z rush hours, peak direction June 25, 1888[citation needed]
Center express track ends as stub within Marcy Ave station
Continues over Williamsburg Bridge and becomes the BMT Nassau Street Line (J all times M all times except late nights Z rush hours, peak direction)
 
Williamsburg Demolished section of original line
Driggs Avenue June 25, 1888[7] Closed July 3, 1916[35]
Broadway Ferry July 14, 1888[10] Closed July 3, 1916[36]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The service table on the 1967 New York City Rapid Transit Map and Station Guide refers to southbound a.m. skip-stop service on the JJ and QJ.
  2. ^ "City Transit Unit Seeks 141 Million: Funds for Buses and BMT Cars Included in Budget". The New York Times. July 18, 1962. Retrieved 2 October 2015. 
  3. ^ a b "Broadway Junction Transportation Study: NYC Department of City Planning Final Report-November 2008" (PDF). nyc.gov. New York City Department of City Planning. November 2008. Retrieved 27 October 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h
  5. ^ "Construction of Foundations and Structure: Section 1, Jamaica Line" (PDF). New York Municipal Railway Corporation. 1915. Retrieved 4 March 2016. 
  6. ^ "Annual Report of the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Co. for The Year Ending June 30, 1912" (PDF). bmt-lines.com. Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company. June 30, 1912. Retrieved 4 March 2016. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h "The Broadway Line Opened". Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). June 25, 1888. p. 6. 
  8. ^ "Trains Running This Morning". Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). May 30, 1893. p. 10. 
  9. ^ "Pushing the Road Along". Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). July 20, 1888. p. 4. 
  10. ^ a b "When the Union Road will be Finished". Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). July 13, 1888. p. 1. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f "Trains Running This Morning". Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). May 30, 1893. p. 10. 
  12. ^ "Elevated Railroad Extensions". Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). May 28, 1893. p. 16. 
  13. ^ "Annual Report of the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Co. for The Year Ending June 30, 1918" (PDF). bmt-lines.com. Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company. Retrieved 4 March 2016. 
  14. ^ "Express 'L' Service to 168th Street Looms: Transformer Ordered at 77th Street: New Stream-Lined Cars Will Appear on Jamaica Line" (PDF). The Press Service Page. July 7, 1934. Retrieved July 27, 2016 – via Fulton History. 
  15. ^ a b c d "Third Tracking of Jamaica Avenue "L" Called a Disgrace: Grey Calls Proposal 'Unnecessary Unwarranted Renovation of Antiquated Elevated Structure'; City Planning Commission Has Repeatedly Turned Down the Plan" (PDF). The Leader–Observer. August 16, 1962. Retrieved July 27, 2016 – via Fulton History. 
  16. ^ "Woodhavenites Fear Loss of Homes by El Improvement: Residents Clamor for Facts About City's Plan to Build El Structure Through Heart of Community; Official Statement Released by Transit Authority" (PDF). The Leader–Observer. October 2, 1958. Retrieved July 27, 2016 – via Fulton History. 
  17. ^ "Is It For Real?" (PDF). The Leader–Observer. October 16, 1958. Retrieved July 27, 2016 – via Fulton History. 
  18. ^ "Lack of Funds Kills Unwanted El Project: City Planning Commission Removes Item From Next Year's Capital Budget; Local Residents Rejoice on Hearing Homes Will Not Be Taken" (PDF). The Leader–Observer. October 9, 1958. Retrieved July 27, 2016 – via Fulton History. 
  19. ^ Fitzergerald, Owen (July 15, 1959). "Cashmore Again Hits BMT Plan" (PDF). New York World–Telegram. Retrieved July 27, 2016 – via Fulton History. 
  20. ^ "Patterson Asks Third Track El Construction: Personal Appearance Lends Weight to Bid Before Commission" (PDF). The Leader–Observer. August 20, 1959. Retrieved July 27, 2016 – via Fulton History. 
  21. ^ "BMT 3rd Track Plan May Be Abandoned" (PDF). New York World Telegram and Sun. August 26, 1959. Retrieved July 27, 2016 – via Fulton History. 
  22. ^ Dembart, Lee (September 9, 1977). "A Sentimental Journey on the BMT...". nytimes.com. The New York Times. Retrieved 2 July 2015. 
  23. ^ a b Lee Dembart, New York Times, A Sentimental Journey on the BMT, September 9, 1977, page 61
  24. ^ "www.nycsubway.org". www.nycsubway.org. 
  25. ^ "www.nycsubway.org". www.nycsubway.org. 
  26. ^ a b c d e
  27. ^ "Finished at Last". Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). December 3, 1885. p. 4. 
  28. ^ "Still Extending Its Lines". Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). September 5, 1885. p. 6. 
  29. ^ "East New York". Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). June 13, 1885. p. 6. 
  30. ^ "A New Station Opened". Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). July 18, 1885. p. 4. 
  31. ^ "Halsey Street Station Opened". Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). August 19, 1885. p. 4. 
  32. ^ "Done at Last". Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). May 13, 1885. p. 1. 
  33. ^ "Brooklyn Daily Eagle: It Reaches Broadway (April 5, 1889)". bklyn.newspapers.com. 
  34. ^ "E. Belcher Hyde Map Co. Atlas of Brooklyn revised 1921". www.historicmapworks.com. 
  35. ^ BMT Lines: Brooklyn Manhattan Transit: A History as Seen Through the Company's Maps, Guides and other Documents: 1923-1939," by James Poulous
  36. ^ BMT Lines: Brooklyn Manhattan Transit: A History as Seen Through the Company's Maps, Guides and other Documents: 1923-1939," by James Poulous

External links[edit]

Route map: Bing / Google