IND Culver Line

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IND Culver Line
The F travels over the whole length as a local train. Several stations are also served by the G.
Type Rapid transit
System New York City Subway
Termini North of Jay Street – MetroTech
Coney Island – Stillwell Avenue
Stations 21
Opened 1919–1954
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 12 in (1,435 mm)
Electrification 600 V DC third rail
IND Culver Line
IND Sixth Avenue Line
IND Eighth Avenue Line
Jay Street – MetroTech
IND Fulton Street Line
IND Crosstown Line
Bergen Street
Carroll Street
Smith–Ninth Streets Gowanus Canal
Fourth Avenue BMT Fourth Avenue Line
Seventh Avenue
Express Tracks
15th Street – Prospect Park
Express Tracks
Fort Hamilton Parkway
Church Avenue
Church Avenue Yard
BMT Fourth Avenue Line
Culver Ramp (IND-to-BMT connection) to
BMT Fourth and former Fifth Avenue Lines
Ninth Avenue
BMT West End Line
Fort Hamilton Parkway (demolished)
13th Avenue (demolished)
Former BMT Culver Line connection
Ditmas Avenue Former Culver Shuttle terminal
18th Avenue
Avenue I
Bay Parkway
Avenue N
Avenue P
Kings Highway
Avenue U
Avenue X
Coney Island Yard
Neptune Avenue BMT Brighton Line
Former BMT Brighton Line connection
West Eighth Street – New York Aquarium
BMT Sea Beach Line
Coney Island – Stillwell Avenue

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, a ramp allows the line to rise onto a three-track elevated structure built by the City for operation 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.[1]

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[2] and signaled[3] as part of the IND. However, BMT radio frequency B1 is used on the elevated portion of the line south of Church Avenue.[2]

Extent and service[edit]

  Time period Section of line
NYCS-bull-trans-F.svg all times full line
NYCS-bull-trans-G.svg 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.[1][4] Restoration of express service has been thwarted by budget shortages, passenger opposition, and a serious signal fire at Bergen Street in 1999.[1][5] The issue came to a head in June 2007, when a petition for express service reached 2,600 signatures and gained media attention.[5][6][7] 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.[1][4][8]

Jay Street to Church Avenue[edit]

The subway portion of the IND Culver Line was originally designated the Brooklyn Line but has also been called the Smith Street Line,[9][10] 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.[11]

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.[12] 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.[12] 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.[12][13][14][15] 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.[13] 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.[4][12][16][17][18] 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.

Culver Viaduct[edit]

The Culver Viaduct spans the Gowanus Canal.

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 one-mile long[12] 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,[1][4] 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.[19][20] The viaduct was constructed due to the depth of the canal (15 feet at its deepest point),[21] and due to the topography of the Park Slope neighborhood.[19][22] Otherwise, a tunnel carrying the line would have to have been built below both the canal and the BMT Fourth Avenue Line (necessitating stations deep below the ground); or Ninth Street would be raised above grade level to pass over the canal and BMT subway.[22] Both underground options were considered expensive and impractical, and the viaduct was estimated to save $12 million dollars in construction costs when it was selected in 1927.[22] The viaduct's height was later increased from 60 feet (18 m)[22] to around 90 feet (27 m), due to now-defunct navigation regulations for tall-mast shipping.[19][23] 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.[1][24][25] 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.[1][4][12] In 2009, the G's terminus was moved to Church Avenue in order to complete renovations on the viaduct.[1][4]

Ditmas Avenue to Coney Island[edit]

Culver Line leaves Coney Island – Stillwell Avenue underneath the BMT Brighton Line

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.[13][14] Just before the station, the southbound local track merges into the southbound express track, while the northbound express track becomes the El's bidirectional center express track.[16] 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.


Early years as two separate lines[edit]

BMT Culver Line (1875–1954)[edit]

Main article: Culver Line (surface)
Route designation on BMT D Triplex equipment
Stub of elevated line formerly running west at Cortelyou Road

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[26]) to Coney Island, on June 25, 1875.[27][28] 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.[29] During a period of Long Island Rail Road control, from 1893[30] to 1899,[31] a ramp at 36th Street was opened in 1895, allowing Brooklyn Elevated Railroad trains to operate over the Culver Line to Coney Island.[32] 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.[31]

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.[33] 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.[34][35][36][37] An extension to Avenue X was opened at noon on May 10, 1919.[38][39] 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.[40][41] This construction tied into the existing lower level of the BMT Brighton Line east of West Eighth Street – New York Aquarium.[citation needed] 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;[42] the Fifth Avenue Elevated was closed on May 31, 1940.[43] Trolleys continued to use the surface tracks on McDonald Avenue until 1956.[citation needed]

IND Brooklyn Line (1933–1954)[edit]

One of the goals of Mayor John Hylan's Independent Subway System (IND) proposed in the 1920s was a line to Coney Island, reached by a recapture of the BMT Culver Line.[11][44] To connect this line to the Eighth Avenue Line – the main trunk of the IND – a subway 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.[11][13][44][45] This line was variously known as the Culver Line Extension,[44] Culver−Smith Street Line,[22] Smith Street Line,[9] Smith Street–Prospect Park Line,[11] Smith–Ninth Street Line,[46] Jay–Smith–Ninth Street Line,[19] Church Avenue Line,[47] Prospect Park–Church Avenue Line,[48] Brooklyn Line,[47] or South Brooklyn Line,[15][19][49] though it was often simply referred to as the Brooklyn portion of the IND.[48][50] By 1927, it was decided to build a bridge over the Gowanus Canal due to cost considerations, replacing earlier plans for a deep river tunnel. This resulted in the only above-ground section of the original IND.[19][22][44] 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 from Jay Street to Bergen Street.[51][52] The rest of the line opened on October 7, 1933 to the "temporary" terminal at Church Avenue,[51][53] three blocks away from the Culver elevated at Ditmas Avenue.[50][54] In 1936, the A was rerouted to the IND Fulton Street Line and E trains from the Queens Boulevard line replaced them.[51] 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.[51]

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.[9][49][55][56][57][58][59] A 1931 proposal had the line travel south from Smith–Ninth Streets station through Red Hook and Gowanus to Saint George Terminal.[55][57] 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.[60][61][62][63] 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.[9][15][49][56] In 1940, proposals emerged to connect the IND with the BMT West End Line near its Fort Hamilton Parkway station;[64][65] the 1946 Board of Transportation plans featured both the West End connection and the extension to 86th Street.[66] None of these proposals were ever constructed.[9][49]

Culver Ramp[edit]

Looking down the ramp
Climbing the ramp

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.[9][50] The new connection would create a one-fare ride for IND passengers to Coney Island, and eliminate congestion on the BMT's Fourth Avenue Subway.[48][50]

Groundbreaking on the Culver Ramp, also referred to as the Culver Line Connection, between the Church Avenue and Ditmas Avenue stations began in June 1941, and was expected to be completed by the ended of the year.[65] The ramp was expected to cost $2 million, and along with new signals and rehabilitation of the Culver elevated, the total cost of the project was estimated at over $11 million.[48][50] McDonald Avenue was also widened between Avenue C and Cortelyou Road to facilitate the ramp. Though the ramp was nearly complete, including rails and signal work, construction was halted later that year because of America's entrance into World War II.[67][68] When the project was restarted in 1946, completion was delayed further due to continued material shortages and a lack of rolling stock to facilitate the new service.[66] On October 30, 1954,[69] 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.[70]

IND Culver Line (1954–present)[edit]

Coney Island power substation

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 announced as Concourse–Culver and advertised as direct Bronx–Coney Island service.[70] 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.[71][72] This Culver Shuttle became full-time on May 28, 1959,[73] and was closed on May 10, 1975, replaced by a transfer to the B35 bus route.[74] The elevated portion has been re-chained as part of the B2 (IND) division, but still uses B1 (BMT) division radio frequencies.[2]

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.[75] 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.[1] 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.[1][76][77]

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.[1][76][78] 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 from its longtime terminus at Smith–Ninth Streets to a more efficient terminus at Church Avenue beginning in July 2009.[1][4][6] The project was completed in 2013.[4][76]

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 services in Brooklyn. The petition, which gained over 2,500 signatures by June 2007 and nearly 4,000 by September, 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.[1][5][6][7] The G extension was made permanent in 2012, freeing up the express tracks formerly used to relay trains.[4]

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 late nights only Stops late nights only
Stops rush hours only Stops rush hours only
Time period details
Handicapped/disabled access Station Tracks Services Opened Transfers and notes
begins as continuation of the IND Sixth Avenue Line local tracks (F all times)
Downtown Brooklyn Handicapped/disabled access Jay Street – MetroTech all F all times February 1, 1933 IND Fulton Street Line (A all times C all except late nights)
BMT Fourth Avenue Line (N late nights R all except late nights)
Express Tracks begin (no regular service)
Merge from the IND Crosstown Line (G all times) into local tracks
Cobble Hill Bergen Street all F all times G all times March 20, 1933 upper level – Local (in service)
lower level – Express (no regular service)
Carroll Gardens Carroll Street local F all times G all times October 7, 1933
Gowanus Smith–Ninth Streets local F all times G all times October 7, 1933
Fourth Avenue local F all times G all times October 7, 1933 BMT Fourth Avenue Line (D late nights N late nights R all except late nights) at Ninth Street
Park Slope Seventh Avenue all F all times G all times October 7, 1933
express tracks diverge (no regular service)
Windsor Terrace 15th Street – Prospect Park local F all times G all times October 7, 1933
express tracks rejoin on lower level (no regular service)
Fort Hamilton Parkway local F all times G all times October 7, 1933
express tracks rise (no regular service)
Kensington Handicapped/disabled access Church Avenue all F all times G all times October 7, 1933 southern terminal of G all times 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[34] 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[34] Closed on May 11, 1975, Demolished 1985.
Kensington 13th Avenue local Culver Shuttle March 16, 1919[34] Closed on May 11, 1975, Demolished 1985.
Ditmas Avenue local F all times March 16, 1919[34]
Borough Park 18th Avenue all F all times March 16, 1919[34]
Avenue I local F all times March 16, 1919[34]
Bay Parkway local F all times March 16, 1919[34]
Avenue N local F all times March 16, 1919[34]
Gravesend Avenue P local F all times March 16, 1919[34]
Kings Highway all F all times March 16, 1919[34] southern terminal of some F trains during rush hours
Avenue U local F all times May 10, 1919[38][39]
Avenue X local F all times May 10, 1919[38]
Express track ends merging into southbound local track and continuing into Coney Island Yard
Coney Island Neptune Avenue all F all times May 1, 1920[citation needed]
West Eighth Street – New York Aquarium all F all times May 19, 1917[citation needed] BMT Brighton Line (Q all times)
Handicapped/disabled access Coney Island – Stillwell Avenue all F all times May 30, 1919[citation needed] BMT Brighton Line (Q all times)
BMT Sea Beach Line (N all times)
BMT West End Line (D all times)

See also[edit]


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  62. ^ "Bay Ridge Tube's Fate Rests with Meeting Today: Staten Island Tunnel O.K. May Be Reversed If M'Aneny Attends". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. December 29, 1933. Retrieved 19 July 2015 – via 
  63. ^ "Vogel to Press for West End L, Culver Links". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. August 14, 1940. pp. 1–2. 
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  66. ^ Blauvelt, Paul (June 9, 1946). "Shortages Snarl $50,000,000 Tube Links". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. p. 21. Retrieved 9 October 2015. 
  67. ^ New York Times, 200 City Projects Face Standstill Due to Priorities, August 18, 1941, page 1
  68. ^ Culver Line Ceremonies
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  70. ^ New York Times, Bronx to Coney Ride in New Subway Link, October 18, 1954, page 34
  71. ^ New York Times, Bronx-Coney Line is Opened by IND, October 31, 1954, page 73
  72. ^ The Third Rail, April–June 1975: Culver Shuttle Closes
  73. ^ New York Times, Brooklyn's Culver Shuttle Makes Festive Final Run, May 12, 1975, page 20
  74. ^ Perlmutter, Emanuel (November 16, 1967). "SUBWAY CHANGES TO SPEED SERVICE: Major Alterations in Maps, Routes and Signs Will Take Effect Nov. 26". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 July 2015. 
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  76. ^ Umanov, Ben (September 22, 2014). "F Train Express Service Might be Coming Back to Brooklyn". Gowanus Your Face OFf. Retrieved 28 July 2015. 
  77. ^ Flegenheimer, Matt (November 29, 2013). "In Subways, Suddenly, 2 Glimpses of History". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 September 2015. 

External links[edit]

Route map: Bing / Google

External video
NYC Subway Culver Viaduct Rehabilitation Project, Metropolitan Transportation Authority; January 12, 2010; 1:48 YouTube video clip