Since 1889, the South Brooklyn Railway (SBR) has passed through several hands — the Long Island Railroad, Brooklyn Rapid Transit, and New York City Board of Transportation have all been owners — and has handled a range of cargo, carrying mail, lumber, stone products, and passengers. Today, freight trains run along the Brooklyn-Queens line twice a day. Otherwise, it is quiet. Since the mid-1990s, the Regional Plan Association (RPA) has been advocating for the Triboro, a passenger line that would run along the SBR, from Bay Ridge to Co-Op City, connecting Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx and intersecting with 17 subway lines and four commuter rail lines on its path. According to the RPA, the Triboro would compensate for a Manhattan-centric subway system and service Brooklyn and Queens transit deserts to provide shorter journeys for 100,000 daily commuters. I grew up right near the track, but even in the 1960s, it was quiet. I rarely heard a train go by. There are only a few places to see the track at ground level — most of it is either below ground in an open cut, or elevated about 20 feet up on a sort of ridge. If you didn’t know to look for it, you might never see it.
All photographs copyright Stanley Greenberg.
Stanley Greenberg is the author of Time Machines (2011), Under Construction (2010), Waterworks: A Photographic Journey Through New York’s Hidden Water System (2003), and Invisible New York: The Hidden Infrastructure of the City (1998). Greenberg was born in Brooklyn, New York, and lives there now.