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.