IND Culver Line
|IND Culver Line|
|System||New York City Subway|
|Termini||North of Jay Street – MetroTech
Coney Island – Stillwell Avenue
|Owner||City of New York|
|Operator(s)||New York City Transit Authority|
|Character||Underground and elevated|
|No. of tracks||2–4|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
|Electrification||Direct current traction|
|IND Culver Line|
The IND Culver Line is a rapid transit line of the B Division of the New York City Subway, extending from Downtown Brooklyn south to Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York City, United States. From its beginning at an interlocking north of Jay Street – MetroTech, where Culver Line trains can access the IND Sixth Avenue Line or IND Eighth Avenue Line, south to Church Avenue in Kensington, the line is mostly a four-track subway, though it rises to cross over the Gowanus Canal on the only above-ground structure on the original Independent Subway System. In Kensington, the line rises onto a three-track elevated structure built by the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company as part of the Dual Contracts. When this ramp was opened in 1954, the older route from Kensington northwest to Sunset Park remained as the Culver Shuttle until it was closed in 1975. The final portion of the line in Coney Island is on the lower level of a double-decked elevated structure, with the BMT Brighton Line above.
The local tracks of the Culver Line are served by the F service, as well as the G between Bergen Street and Church Avenue. The express tracks north of Church Avenue have not been regularly used since 1976, while the peak-direction express track between Ditmas Avenue and Avenue X has not seen regular service since 1987.
The elevated part of the Culver Line, operated as part of the BMT division until 1954, now carries only the F, a former IND service, and is chained and signaled as part of the IND. However, BMT radio frequency B1 is used on the elevated portion of the line south of Church Avenue.
Extent and service
|Time period||Section of line|
|all times||full line|
|all times||between Bergen Street and Church Avenue|
The Culver Line is served by the F as a local for its entire length. The portion of the route from Bergen Street south to Church Avenue is also served by the G Brooklyn–Queens Crosstown service. Both routes run at all times.
There are two express tracks on the northern part of the route and one on the southern, with express stations distributed along the line. However, there has been no no express service on the Culver Line since 1987. Express service has only operated once on the line from 1968 to 1987. Restoration of express service has been thwarted by budget shortages, passenger opposition, and a serious signal fire at Bergen Street in 1999. The issue came to a head in June 2007, when a petition for express service reached 2,600 signatures and gained media attention. The Culver Line underwent repairs from 2009 until early 2013, during which the express tracks were replaced and rehabilitated which may facilitate future express service.
Jay Street to Church Avenue
The subway portion of the IND Culver Line was originally designated the Brooklyn Line but has also been called the Smith Street Line, Church Avenue Line, South Brooklyn Line, and various other names. The express tracks beneath Prospect Park are sometimes referred to as the Prospect Park Line.
The line begins at the four-tracked Jay Street – MetroTech station, where the IND Sixth Avenue and Eighth Avenue lines interchange and continue as the Culver and Fulton Street lines respectively. Running under Smith Street south of the station, the Culver tracks split, with the express tracks ramping down to the lower level of Bergen Street, while the local tracks merge with the IND Crosstown Line tracks from Hoyt-Schermerhorn Street before entering the upper level. At Carroll Street, the express tracks ramp up to rejoin the local tracks, and all four tracks rise onto the Culver Viaduct, curving onto Ninth Avenue. East of Fourth Avenue station towards Park Slope, the tracks become a subway once again. Past 7th Avenue, the local tracks diverge, curving south to 15th Street and Prospect Park West, while the express tracks take a direct route beneath Prospect Park. This is one of two places in the subway where the express tracks diverge from the local tracks, the other being on the IND Queens Boulevard Line between 65th Street and 36th Street. The express tracks rejoin the right-of-way under Fort Hamilton Parkway near the Prospect Park Parade Grounds, and rise up as the line curves onto McDonald Avenue. The line then parallels the route of the original Culver Line surface railroad into Church Avenue station, the last stop of the original IND service. A single track in both directions ramps down to the four-track Church Avenue Yard, used as a relay and storage facility for G trains. The four mainline tracks ascend to the Culver Ramp on McDonald Avenue between Cortelyou Road and Avenue C, which connects the subway portion of the IND Culver Line with the former BMT Culver Line elevated structure. Despite being a part of the IND Division, the Culver elevated portion is controlled by BMT radio dispatch, so train operators change between the IND (B-2) and BMT (B-1) radio frequencies at this point.
The northern section of the Culver Line is a four-track line, entirely underground except for Smith–Ninth Streets and Fourth Avenue stations. The two stations sit on a massive steel and concrete viaduct which spans the Gowanus Canal between 9th and 10th Avenues. This structure is now referred to as the Culver Viaduct or Culver Line Viaduct, the only portion of the original IND subway to be elevated, and the only section other than the now-demolished World's Fair Railroad to be outdoors. The viaduct was constructed due to now-defunct navigation regulations for tall-mast shipping on the Gowanus Canal, and due to the topography of the Park Slope neighborhood. Because of this, Smith–Ninth Streets was built at an elevation of 87.5 feet (26.7 m), the highest subway station above ground level in the world. Fourth Avenue, meanwhile, is actually at a lower elevation and altitude than the Seventh Avenue underground station.
For most of its history, G service has terminated at Smith–Ninth Streets, relaying using the express tracks and switches at Fourth Avenue. This occasionally caused delays to F service, and prevented express service from being operated. In 2009, the G's terminus was moved to Church Avenue in order to complete renovations on the viaduct.
Ditmas Avenue to Coney Island
At Ditmas Avenue, the Culver Ramp ends and the underground line becomes elevated. This is a three-track Dual Contracts elevated on the former BMT line over McDonald (formerly Gravesend) Avenue. Just before the station, the southbound local track merges into the southbound express track. During the 1990s and 2000s, the center express track in this section was occasionally used for non-revenue testing. After Avenue X station, a ramp diverges to the surface for access to the Culver Yard of the Coney Island Yards complex. At this point the Culver Line narrows to a two-track structure bearing one more station – Neptune Avenue – before curving into West Eighth Street – New York Aquarium station on Coney Island.
Formally, the Culver Line ends as the track curve enters the lower level of the double-decked station along the BMT Brighton Line's right-of-way, and the chaining track designation changes from IND tracks B1 and B2 to BMT tracks A1 and A2 of the Brighton Line. However, there is no longer a connection to the Brighton Line at this point, and for all practical purposes the Culver Line continues into tracks 5 and 6 of the Coney Island – Stillwell Avenue Terminal.
BMT Culver Line (1875–1954)
The original Culver Line was opened by the Prospect Park and Coney Island Railroad, along the surface of McDonald Avenue (then Gravesend Avenue) from Greenwood Cemetery (where it connected with horse car lines including the Vanderbilt Avenue Line, operated by the PP&CI until 1886) to Coney Island, on June 25, 1875. The PP&CI began serving the Union Depot at 36th Street, where transfer could be made to the Fifth Avenue Elevated, on June 7, 1890, by using the Prospect Park and South Brooklyn Railroad from a junction at Parkville. During a period of Long Island Rail Road control, from 1893 to 1899, a ramp at 36th Street was opened in 1895, allowing Brooklyn Elevated Railroad trains to operate over the Culver Line to Coney Island. The Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company (BRT), by then the owner of the Brooklyn Elevated, leased the Culver Line (to the Brooklyn Heights Railroad) on June 18, 1899, and began using it to take not only elevated trains but also trolleys to Coney Island.
As part of Contract 4 of the Dual Contracts, between the city and the BRT, a three-track elevated railway was built above the Culver Line from the Fifth Avenue Elevated southeast and south to Coney Island. At Ninth Avenue, the elevated replacements for the Culver Line and West End Line met, with access from both lines to the Fifth Avenue Elevated and Fourth Avenue Subway to the northwest. At 3:00 a.m. on March 16, 1919, the first portion of the new elevated structure opened from Ninth Avenue southeast and south to Kings Highway. Except for the omission of a station at 15th Avenue, all of the station locations from the surface line were preserved as elevated stations. The Culver Line was operated as a branch of the Fifth Avenue Elevated, with a free transfer at Ninth Avenue to the West End Line into the Fourth Avenue Subway. An extension to Avenue X was opened at noon on May 10, 1919. The line, the last of the four to Coney Island, was completed on May 1, 1920, at which time the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company was forced to cut the fare from ten to five cents. This construction tied into the existing lower level of the BMT Brighton Line east of West Eighth Street – New York Aquarium. Some Culver Line (5) trains began using the Fourth Avenue Subway to the Nassau Street Loop in Lower Manhattan when that line opened on May 30, 1931; the Fifth Avenue Elevated was closed on May 31, 1940. Trolleys continued to use the surface tracks on McDonald Avenue until 1956.
IND Brooklyn Line (1933–1954)
One of the goals of Mayor John Hylan's Independent Subway System (IND) was a line to Coney Island, reached by a recapture of the BMT Culver Line. To connect this line to the Eighth Avenue Line – the main trunk of the IND – a subway line, variously known as the Culver Line Extension, Smith Street Line, Smith Street–Prospect Park Line, Jay–Smith–Ninth Street Line, Church Avenue Line, Brooklyn Line, or South Brooklyn Line, was to run from Brooklyn Borough Hall south under Jay Street, Smith Street, Ninth Street, and several other streets to Cortelyou Road (later Church Avenue) and McDonald Avenue, just south of the Ditmas Avenue elevated station. A ramp would then lead onto the elevated BMT Culver Line. The first short section of the line opened on March 20, 1933, taking Eighth Avenue Express A trains (and for about a month from July to August C trains) south to Bergen Street. The rest of the line opened to the "temporary" terminal at Church Avenue on October 7, 1933. A bridge over the Gowanus Canal replaced earlier plans for a tunnel due to cost considerations, resulting in the only above-ground section of the original IND. In 1936, the A was rerouted to the IND Fulton Street Line and E trains from the Queens Boulevard line replaced them. In 1937, the connection to the IND Crosstown Line opened and GG trains were extended to Smith-Ninth Streets. E trains were replaced by the F in December 1940 after the IND Sixth Avenue Line opened.
As part of the various proposed extensions of the IND Second System, the IND Culver subway was planned to facilitate a spur line to Bay Ridge, with a connection to the incomplete Staten Island Tunnel intended for the BMT Fourth Avenue Line. A 1931 proposal had the line travel south from Smith–Ninth Streets station through Red Hook and Gowanus to Saint George Terminal. A 1933 plan would have branched off between Smith–Ninth Streets and Fourth Avenue, then ran down Second Avenue in Bay Ridge to the tunnel. Like other IND lines, this route would have been in direct competition with the then-privately operated Fourth Avenue Subway. The final proposal from the 1939 Second System plan proposed an extension down Fort Hamilton Parkway and/or Tenth Avenue towards the tunnel, with continued service to 86th Street in Bay Ridge near the BMT 4th Avenue station. This route would have diverged near the Fort Hamilton Parkway and Church Avenue stations. None of these proposals were ever constructed.
Recapture of the BMT Culver Line elevated structure in order to institute IND service to Coney Island was a high priority of New York City planners. Recapture proved unnecessary since the Culver Line and the rest of the BMT and IRT passed into City hands in 1940 as a fruit of Unification, the takeover of the privately owned BMT and IRT by the City, which built and owned the IND.
Construction of the Culver Ramp, also referred to as Culver Line Connection, between the Church Avenue and Ditmas Avenue began in 1941, but was delayed because of America's entrance into World War II. On October 30, 1954, the connection between the IND Brooklyn Line at Church Avenue and the BMT Culver Line at Ditmas Avenue opened. This allowed IND trains to operate all the way to the Coney Island – Stillwell Avenue terminal.
IND Culver Line (1954–present)
Following the completion of Culver Ramp, D Concourse Express trains (which formerly terminated in Manhattan) replaced F service, and were sent over the new connection as the first IND service to reach Coney Island. The service was service announced as Concourse–Culver and advertised as direct Bronx–Coney Island service. BMT Culver Line (5) trains were truncated to Ditmas Avenue, the south end of the connection, operating through to Manhattan via the Nassau Street Loop during the day, and terminating at Ninth Avenue at other times. This Culver Shuttle became full-time on May 28, 1959, and was closed on May 10, 1975, replaced by a transfer to the B35 bus route. The elevated portion has been re-chained as part of the B2 (IND) division, but still uses B1 (BMT) division radio frequencies.
In November 1967, the Chrystie Street Connection opened and D trains were rerouted via the Manhattan Bridge and the BMT Brighton Line to Coney Island. F trains were extended once again via the Culver Line. From 1968 to 1987, the Culver Line featured express service during rush hours. F trains ran express in both directions between Bergen Street and Church Avenue, while G trains were extended from Smith–Ninth Streets to Church Avenue to provide local service. Express service on the elevated portion of the line to Kings Highway operated in the peak direction (to Manhattan AM; to Brooklyn PM), with some F trains running local and some running express. Express service between Bergen and Church ended in 1976, and between Church and Kings Highway in 1987, due to budget constraints and complaints from passengers at local stations.
With the end of express service, Bergen Street's lower level was taken out of service. Following renovations to the station in the 1990s, the lower level was converted into storage space and is not usable for passenger service in its current state. In 2007, the MTA announced the Culver Line would be undergoing extensive rehabilitation, particularly repairs of the elevated Culver Viaduct and modernization of the interlockings at Bergen Street, 4th Avenue, and Church Avenue. This also allowed the G train to be extended once again from its historical terminus at Smith–Ninth Streets to the more efficient terminus at Church Avenue beginning in July 2009. The project was completed in 2013.
Around the time the rehabilitation project was announced, a petition to restore express service along the line gained attention, due to increasing ridership on both the F and G lines in Brooklyn. It proposed to restore express service by making the Church Avenue extension of the G permanent and extending the V (eliminated in 2010) from its Manhattan terminus to Brooklyn, sharing the Rutgers Street Tunnel with the F. The G extension was made permanent in 2012, freeing up the express tracks formerly used to relay trains.
|Station service legend|
|Stops all times|
|Stops all times except late nights|
|Stops late nights only|
|Stops rush hours only|
|Time period details|
|Station||Tracks||Services||Opened||Transfers and notes|
|begins as continuation of the IND Sixth Avenue Line local tracks (F )|
|Downtown Brooklyn||Jay Street – MetroTech||all||F||February 1, 1933||IND Fulton Street Line (A C )
BMT Fourth Avenue Line (N R )
|Express Tracks begin (no regular service)|
|Merge from the IND Crosstown Line (G ) into local tracks|
|Cobble Hill||Bergen Street||all||F G||March 20, 1933||upper level – Local (in service)
lower level – Express (no regular service)
|Carroll Gardens||Carroll Street||local||F G||October 7, 1933|
|Gowanus||Smith–Ninth Streets||local||F G||October 7, 1933|
|Fourth Avenue||local||F G||October 7, 1933||BMT Fourth Avenue Line (D N R ) at Ninth Street|
|Park Slope||Seventh Avenue||all||F G||October 7, 1933|
|express tracks diverge (no regular service)|
|Windsor Terrace||15th Street – Prospect Park||local||F G||October 7, 1933|
|express tracks rejoin on lower level (no regular service)|
|Fort Hamilton Parkway||local||F G||October 7, 1933|
|express tracks rise (no regular service)|
|Kensington||Church Avenue||all||F G||October 7, 1933||southern terminal of G train|
|Connecting tracks to Church Avenue Yard|
|Southbound express track merges into southbound local track and bi-directional express track creating a 3 track line (formerly the BMT Culver Line)|
|Sunset Park||Ninth Avenue||all||Culver Shuttle||March 16, 1919||Stopped on lower level, which closed on May 11, 1975. Transfer was available to the BMT West End Line.|
|Fort Hamilton Parkway||local||Culver Shuttle||March 16, 1919||Closed on May 11, 1975, Demolished 1985.|
|Kensington||13th Avenue||local||Culver Shuttle||March 16, 1919||Closed on May 11, 1975, Demolished 1985.|
|Ditmas Avenue||local||F||March 16, 1919|
|Borough Park||18th Avenue||all||F||March 16, 1919|
|Avenue I||local||F||March 16, 1919|
|Bay Parkway||local||F||March 16, 1919|
|Avenue N||local||F||March 16, 1919|
|Gravesend||Avenue P||local||F||March 16, 1919|
|Kings Highway||all||F||March 16, 1919||southern terminal of some F trains during rush hours|
|Avenue U||local||F||May 10, 1919|
|Avenue X||local||F||May 10, 1919|
|Express track ends merging into southbound local track and continuing into Coney Island Yard|
|Coney Island||Neptune Avenue||all||F||May 1, 1920|
|West Eighth Street – New York Aquarium||all||F||May 19, 1917||BMT Brighton Line (Q )|
|Coney Island – Stillwell Avenue||all||F||May 30, 1919||BMT Brighton Line (Q )
BMT Sea Beach Line (N )
BMT West End Line (D )
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to IND Culver Line.|
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|NYC Subway Culver Viaduct Rehabilitation Project, Metropolitan Transportation Authority; January 12, 2010; 1:48 YouTube video clip|
- NYCsubway.org – IND Crosstown Line
- NYCsubway.org – BMT Culver Line
- The Prospect Park and South Brooklyn Railroad Company and The Culver Shuttle (Arrt's Arrchives)