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JAMAICA TROLLEYS

VINCENT F. SEYFRIED





The Story of

THE JAMAICA TURNPIKE AND TROLLEY LINE

FOREWORD

This fourth volume in the series of studies of Long Island's street railways
is devoted to a single Queen's car line: Jamaica Aye. The many thousands of
passengers who rode these cars must always have regarded the Jamaica trolley
operation as the most ordinary and commonplace possible; this little study is
intended as a sort of refutation of this too-prevalent idea. No less than three of
the 82 individual compianies making up the BRT system were devoted wholly
to Jamaica Avenue. Indeed, this historic thoroughfare witnessed just about
every type of transit vehicle possible in America: the stage coach, the horse car,
the trolley, surface elevated train, overhead elevated train, and now buses. Such
a pageant of transportation could not help but be colorful and full of historical
interest. Yet, up to the present, little or nothing has appeared to focus public
attention on this most ancient of Long Island's highways. Here for the first time
is presented the story of travel on Jamaica Aye. as fully as is possible in text
and in pictures.

Readers of the three earlier books in this series will note a change in ap-
pearance here: larger pages, different type, and absenceof footnotes. It is hoped
that the experiment will be favorably received.

I am indebted to Mr. George Winans of Jamaica, L.I. for many of the rare
old local views, and to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania for the old steam-
dummy photos; additional material has been supplied by RobertPresbrey, Edward
Watson, William Rugen, and George Votava. Felix E. Reifschneider has faithfully
attendedonce more to the proof-reading and assembling of the manuscript.
November, 1953

Vincent F. Seyfried



Union Course carbarn in 1875 with bob-tail cars 10 and 13
and open car 21 (Winans)



1
JAMAICA AVENUE IN EARLY DAYS

Of all the highways on Long Island, Jamaica Avenue
enjoys the unique distinction of being, first of all, the
oldest continuously used road on the island; secondly,
of having been the scene of great historic events; and
lastly, of having the most complicated legal background.

A glance at a relief map of Long Island explains per-
haps best of all the origin of the road. The withdrawal
of the last ice age from the island left a high ridge of
terminal moraine along the northern shore of the island
for almost its entire length. The earliest Indian settlers
of Long Island, in skirting the southern edge of this
ridge, gradually established a well defined trail, which,
with the growth of settlement, became the main high-
way from the water's edge in Brooklyn eastward to the
present Suffolk County.
When the first Dutch settlement in Brooklyn was effect-

ed in 1636, the Indian trails became regular colonial
highways; in fact the line of white settlement tended
generally to follow the Indian trails. From the Fulton
Ferry, Dutch villages grew up at Breukelen (Borough
Hall area), and at Bedford; at Breukelen the trail forked,
one branch going south to Midwood and Flatlands,
while the other trail led to Bushwick and onward to the
Indian village of Chemeken (Jamaica). In 1704 the Royal
Governor appointed a commission to widen the old
Dutch roads to Jamaica and Flatlands into passable
wagon trails, which then became known as the King's
Highway. Both branches of tha road were popularly
referred to as the Ferry Road because both terminated
at the ferry landing, later to be known as Fulton Ferry.
That part of the old Ferry Rd. within the village of
Brooklyn was renamed Fulton Street in 1817; later when
Brooklyn became a city, the eastern end of Fulton Street
became Fulton Avenue. The section of the highway
beyond Reid Avenue, however, continued to be popu-
larly referred to as the Jamaica Turnpike.

By the time of the American Revolution, settlement
along Fulton St. and Jamaica Avenue had considerably
increased. At Fulton and Reid Ayes. stood the Four-Mile
House, a colonial tavern; beyond that there was nothing
until one came to the town of New Lots, where Broad-
way, Jamaica Aye. and Fulton St. intersect. Here was
located the Rising Sun Tavern, also called Howard's
Half-way House. This famous hostelry survived the
Revolution and later became the terminus of the Canar-
sie Railroad and of all the horse car lines in East New
York. In colonial times it stood at the southwest corner
of Alabama Aye. and Broadway, but in 1853 was rebuilt
a block south on the northwest corner of Atlantic &
Alabama Ayes., where it remained standing until 1929.
In the Battle of Long Island, the Howard House played
an important part, being the flanking point of the British
Army in the attack on Brooklyn in Augustand September
1776. Lord Howe, commander-in-chief of the British
forces, used the tavern as his headquarters on Aug. 27
and 28th, 1776.
At the end of the Revolutionary War, Fulton St. and

Jamaica Aye. ceased to be a part of the King's High-
way; the counties of Kings and Queens were created by
the new State Legislature of New York, and the colonial

highway system was entrusted to the supervision cf
Highway Commissioners.

The year 1809 can be regarded as marking the end
of the colonial period on Fulton and Jamaica Ayes., tor
in that year both streets passed out of the public domain
and became part of the turnpike network which was just
springing up in the northeastern states of the union.
Under the authority of chap. 74 of the Laws of 1809,
a group of private citizens organized the "Brooklyn,
Jamaicaand Flatbush Turnpike Company", and took over
the management of the old colonial roads named in the
title. The wretched condition of the public roads through-
out the infant United States of that period stimulated
the rise of numerous such turnpike companies. In return
for a long-time exclusive lease of a public highway from
a State Legislature, such a turnpike company bound
itself to widen the highway, lay a paving along its
whole length, and keep the road in good repair. For
the privilege and comfort of driving over such an im-
proved road, each user of the turnpike paid a small toll,
generally between 5 and 10 cents. The public eagerly
patronized these improved highways, and the turnpike
building craze spread, because of the good financial re-
turn it brought on the original investment. In Queens
county, for example, Jackson Aye., Metropolitan
Jericho Tpk., Merrick Rd., Rockaway Rd., etc. were all
profitably operated by turnpike companies.

The Brooklyn, Jamaica and Flatbush Turnpike Co. ex-
tended from the East River, substantially where Fulton
Ferry now is, and followed the general line of Fulton St.
to Flatbush Avenue; then along Flatbush Avenue to
Atlantic Avenue; then along what is now Atlantic Ave-
nue to about Classon Avenue; then curving northward
into what is now Fulton St. and continuing easterly, but
not by a direct route, to Jamaica. There was a branch
extending from Atlantic Aye. substantially along the
line of Flatbush Aye. to Flatbush Village. We are not
too concerned here with the section of the turnpike
inside Brooklyn; the section of road lying within Queens
County was fortunately straighter and less rambling than
the part inside Kings and corresponded almost exactly
with the present Jamaica Avenue from Broadway all the
way to 168th St. The official width of the turnpike was
66 ft. 5 inches.
On August 2, I 833 the turnpike was purchased by theBrooklyn & Jamaica Railroad Co., the pioneer rail line

on Long Island, at the direction of the Legislature, be-
cause the railroad, in building its road all along Atlantic
Avenue, would trespass on the turnpike property be-
tween Flatbush and Classon Avenues. Thus the title to
Fulton St. and Jamaica Avenue passed to a railroad
company. On December I, 1836 the Brooklyn and Ja-
maica Railroad leased its railroad from South Ferry to
Jamaica to the Long Island Rail Road Company. The
railroad kept its interest, however, in the turnpike until
1848, when it successfully petitioned the State Legisla-
ture to sell it. A group of Jamaicabusinessmen decided
to buy the turnpike property and incorporated them-
selves on December 30, 1850 as the "Jamaica and
Brooklyn Plank Road Company." Finally on January 7,



2
1851, the Brooklyn and Jamaica Railroad conveyed to
the new company "that part of the Brooklyn and Jamaica
turnpike Commencing at the eastern terminus of said
turnpike road in Jamaica, and extending along and over
ihe said turnpike road as the same is now laid out
towards the city of Brooklyn in all its width nine miles
and 8 rods to the pavement as it now exists at the com-
mencement of Fulton Aye. and Bedford."
The reader will note that the highway conveyed lacks

part of its original length on the western end, namely,
Bedrord Aye. to Fulton Ferry. In the period between
1809 and 1850 the city of Brooklyn had grown consid-
erably and many new streets had been laid out. These
new roads were naturally straight and parallel to each
other, whereas the old Brooklyn, Jamaica and Flatbush
Turnpike contained many sharp curves. The Common
Council of Brooklyn, therefore, acting under authority
of chap. 132 of the Laws of 1835, appointed commis-
sioners who were authorized to lay out a map and plan
streets within Brooklyn; these commissioners recom-
mended that the old turnpike should be closed from
Perry Avenue to the city line as soon as Fulton Street
should be opened and fit for travel from Bedford Aye.
to the city line. Fulton Street was legally opened from
Bedford Aye. to the Hunterfly Road (near Reid Aye.)
on April 26, 1852. Apparently, the new street was then
fit for travel from Fulton Ferry to about Reid Aye.
The opening of a new and better road no doubt re-

duced the traffic on the old turnpike, and its owners, the
Brooklyn and Jamaica Railroad Company, successfully
secured from the State Legislature in 1846 permission to
sell to the City of Brooklyn all of the turnpike west of
Bedford Aye. and along Flatbush Avenue to the village
ofFlatbush.
The western end of the old turnpike, therefore, as

early as about 1850 fell into disuse and was steadily en-
croached upon by private property, especially where
the old road-bed did not correspond with the new Fulton
St. The title to such encroachments on the old turnpike
remained in doubt until 1875, when, by resolution of the
Common Council of Brooklyn on April 26, 1875, the
city offered to sell quit-claim deeds to all property
owners, renouncing its title to the road-bed acquired
by virtue of the sale of 1846, provided that all taxes
had been paid on such properties. In this way, the west-
ern or Brooklyn end of the old turnpike passed out of
existence, leaving only the eastern end from East New
York to Jamaica intact under private ownership.
Because the Jamaica and Brooklyn Plank road com-

pany looms large in the history of the later trolley line,
it is important to understand its legal status. The capi-
tal stock was authorized at $45,000. The life of the
turnpike company, by virtue of the General Plank Road
Act of 1847, was open to extension from time to time,
but no extension was allowed for more than 30 years,
and then only on condition that the company obtain,
among other things, the consent of a majority ofail the
members of the Board of Supervisors of the county or
counties in which the turnpike was located. In other
words, the Jamaica and Brooklyn Plank Road Company
could exist until 1880 at the longest. There was also a
provision that the turnpike company had to keep the
road in a serviceable condition at all times, and that if

they failed in this duty, then the Supervisors might order
the toll gates to be left open until such time as the re-
pair was made; in other words, no tolls might be collect-
ed. The law specified that the road should be made of
broken stone and gravel, nine inches deep and four rods
wide. On the north side the planked road-bed, made of
three-inch yellow pine boards, was 8 feet wide; the
other side was left in its natural state. At approxi-
mately two mile intervals there were toll gates manned
by toll keepers. Whether there was one at Bedford
Aye., the beginning of the turnpike, is uncertain; we
know there was one at Essex St. (burned 1894), another
just west of Eldert Aye., called the Cypress Hills Gate,
and another at Van Wyck Aye., called the Jamaica
Gate. We are fortunate in having preserved for us
photographs of the latter two of these toll gates dating
back to the late 80's or early 90s. They reveal that
the turnpike had a picket fence on either side to keep off
trespassers; also that the toll-houses were ordinary farm
houses with a 10 or 12 foot passage cut through them.
The house straddled the full width of the road, and no
one could pass without going through the passage pro-
vided. Here the toll keeper sat and collected the toll,
seemingly 6 or 7 cents in late years, from wagon drivers
and men on horseback. At night the passageway was
closed by gates.

The successful operation and expansion of street car
lines in Manhattan and downtown Brooklyn during the
1850's and 60's probably suggested to the directors of
the Jamaica and Brooklyn Plank Road Co. the desira-
bility of running a street railway over the turnpike. Sen-
liment in favorof such a line appeared as early as 1860,
tor in January of that year, a "numerously signed peti-
tion" was circulated for the construction of a horse rail-
road linking Jamaica and Brooklyn. On May 7, 1863,
by virtue of chap. 507 of the Laws of 1863, a group of
Jamaica businessmen, including William Durland, at
that time sheriff of Queens County and operator of the
Enterprise stage coach line to East New York, and Aaron
DeGrauw, a Jamaica banker, incorporated the "East
New York and Jamaica Railroad Company" "for the
purpose of laying rails for the passage of railroad cars
to be drawn by horses on each side of the road known
as the Jamaica and Brooklyn Plank Road." The Act
provided that the road was to be completed in three
years from the date of the company's charter; its cor-
porate life was to be perpetual; its capital stock was not
to exceed $300,000; finally its route was to be "from
Ihe terminus of the Fulton Avenue road in East New
York to any part of the village of Jamaica." The rail-
road company was to enter into negotiations with the
turnpike company for the use of the turnpike; the result
of such negotiations was the granting of the right to
to lay rails "from the terminus of said road in the village
of Jamaica, Queens, to a point in said road opposite the
hotel kept by Wellington Simons near the city line of
the city of Brooklyn." In modern language, the permis-
sion covered a route from 168th Street, the end of the
turnpike on the east, to the junction of Broadway, Ful-
ton, Jamaica, and East New York Avenues in East New
York.

The East NewYork terminus at that time was already a
busy one in the days before the Civil War. The Brook-



3
lyn City Railroad had opened its Fulton Street line in
1853 from Fulton Ferry all the way to Alabama Aye.,
and the Broadway Railroad Company began operating
horse cars from Broadway Ferry to Alabama Aye. in 1859.
The Long Island Rail Road, one block away on Atlantic
Avenue, had operated through steam service to South
Ferry until September 30, 1861, but thereafter East
New York became the western terminus of the steam line,
passengers changing to the horse cars of the Brooklyn
Central and Jamaica R. R. for the remainder of the jour-
ney to South Ferry. The new East New York and Jamaica
Railroad, therefore, was the fourth horse car line to
enter this busy terminal area.

The scarcity of labor and the high price of materials
during the last years of the Civil War prevented the
ENY&J RR from constructing its road promptly; no
effort was made to start the project until two months
after the close of the war. In June 1865 public notices
appeared in the local papers urging all citizens who
wished to subscribe to stock in the new enterprise to
contact Mr. Z. M. P. Black, secretary of the company,
next door to thg Post Office in Jamaica. The price of
shares was fixed at $50. To head the new company and
press forward construction plans were Mr. Aaron A. De-
Grauw, an energetic capitalist destined to be the most
prominent banker in Jamaica for the next 30 years until
his death in 1896, and James H. Elmore, treasurer.
Actual construction on Jamaica Avenue began on or

about June 19, '865 at the East New York end. During
the week of July 24, 1865 the rails were extended from
East New York to Union Course (78th St.). It was the
intention of the company to builcf only as far as Union
Course at first, and then, if the Jamaica people showed
sufficient interest and subscribed for enough bonds, to
extend onward to Jamaica. The choice of Union Course
as a terminus was a wise one; the Union Course race
track, founded in 1821, remained the center of horse
racing on Long Island until 1868, and drew great crowds
of spectators; it extended from the LIRR tracks north to
JamaicaAvenue, and from 78th St. to 85th St. The fifty
acres it once occupied were sold in July 1888 and broken
up into lots. On the southeastern corner of the Union
race course (Jamaica Aye. St.) the new horse
railroad company established its car barn and shops,
consisting of several low wooden one-story buildings.

Construction was so far advanced in mid-October
1865 that plans were made to open on October 17th;
at the last moment a hitch developed, and the cars did
not begin service until Saturday, October 21st. Six
brand new "bob-tail" cars opened the line, so called
because a passenger opened a door at the rear to enter.
Since the horse car had evolved directly from the stage
coach and was manufactured by the same craftsmen,
these bob-tail cars bore a very close resemblance to
the stage coaches of the day; seats were on either side
of the car, and the driver sat on a high seat outside at
the front. Charles R. Doughty, former treasurer of the
Jamaica Savings Bank, described his reminiscences of
these early cars to a Long Island Daily Press reporter:
"Each pasenger put his fare in the box as he boarded the
car. The driver had a mirror arrangement which enabled
him to see the fare box and the inside of the car. If
there were more passengers than fares, he'd pound on

the top of the car until the fare was deposited in the
box. It was a single track line and when the car reached
the end, the driver would pull up a pin near his seat.
This would raise the body of the car from the wheels.
The driver would then whip up his horse, turn the animal,
and the car would turn around. The driver would then
push down the pin and the body would once more lock
onto the wheels. Then he'd be ready to go back to East
New York."

By a rather unusual coincidence, the steam railroad
of the newly built East New York and Canarsie rail-
road began regular service on the same day that the
Jamaica Avenue line opened, October 21, 1865. The
line ran up Van Sinderen Aye. to Atlantic Avenue,
crossed the LIRR tracks, and then ran along the north
side of Atlantic Aye. to the Howard House.
With the opening of horse car service on Jamaica

Avenue as far as Union Course, William Durland, one of
the directors and operators of the old Enterprise stage
coach line, ended his service to East New York. Hence-
forth his stages ran only between the car barn and
Jamaica every 40 mins. during the day. For several
years the stages had been running only nourly, so that
there already appears an increase in business. The fare
to Union Course was established at 10 cents on the car,
and an additional 10 cents to Jamaica on the stage
coach. The new car line certainly had the good will
of the public; the local paper, the Long Island Democrat,
was moved to remark:

"A friend of ours who made a through passage
last Saturday on the new line speaks in the most
flattering terms of the novel change in travel from
thi* village to Brooklyn. The cars will run the dis-
tance in half the time consumed by the stages.
We wish the new enterprise every success and hope
this attempt to accommodate the travelling public
will be duly patronized by our citizens. We have
new cars, new stages, and a new track. Let every
well-wisher to our village prosperity give the new
enterprise a lift."

Another local newspaper, the Long Island Farmer,
was equally complimentary:

"At Union Course the Enterprise line connects with
the new and elegant cars now running upon the
Jamaica and East New York Railroad. . . . We can
see no reason why Durland, running his stages
promptly in connection with these cars, should not
receive an increased share of patronage. This is
the only line of travel by which the citizens of
Jamaica can reach their homes at night at a later
hour than 8 o'clock. The proprietors deserve a
large share of the public patronage."

Small delays, destined to be so common at a later
date, developed even at this early period.) For example,
one day in October, 1865, a stone lying on the rail threw
one of the cars off the track, but light cars of this sort
were easily picked up and righted. The passengers grum-
bled, but the paper, in reporting the incident, counseled
patience:

"It should be remembered that this road is new,
hands new, everything new, and it wants a little
time and patience all will get in order. In a short
time with a little experience, the energy.and en-



Toll gates on the turnpike, (top) Van Wyck gate (between nresent
137th and 138th Sts.) looking east - note gauntlet track (1839;
(center) Hemlock St. in the '80's and (bottom) East Jamaica (now
Hollis) in 1895 - demolished 1897. It was on north side of Jamaica
Aye. between 18Sth and 187th Sts.



4
deavors of the managers will overcome all diffi-
culties, and we shall hail the opening of this road
as one of the greatest helps to the prosperity of
this village."

With the new year, 1866, service was further in-
creased; cars left the depot every half hour for East
New York from 7 A.M. to 7 P.M., return same schedule;
the Enterprise stage coaches connecting at Union
Course continued to run hourly. On May 19, 1866 serv-
ice was still further stepped up to 15 mm. intervals from
7 A.M. to 8 P.M. The stage line to Jamaica remained
on the hourly schedule. We can infer that traffic to the
cemeteries and Union Course must have been unusually
good to warrant such excellent service on a "country"
car line.

The outstanding success of the line stimulated Aaron
DeGrauw to undertake the extension of the road east-
ward to Jamaica. In August 1866, the route was sur-
veyed, specifications made out, and estimates as to the
probable cost advertised in the New York Times, bids
to be opened on August 17th. In the first week of Sep-
tember 1866 the contract was awarded to Mr. John
Higgins of Flushing to construct a single track with
turnouts every mile to Jamaica. On Sept. 3, 1866 work
was begun in Jamaica by taking up some of the planks
on the turnpike, the rails due to be laid shortly. Because
of the disruption of the planking on the road and the
natural falling off of passengers in the fall, the Enterprise
stage coaches cut service to every two hours instead of
hourly as heretofore. During the fine weather of early
October, the track laying progressed rapidly through
Jamaica; the gang from Union Course had reached High
Bridge by mid-November; by November 20th the gap
was almost closed and the work of grading and repaying
the turnpike was being rushed. In the first week of
December winter set in in earnest and both grading
and track laying was seriously slowed by frost. People
using the turnpike complained bitterly of its condition,
but the opening of the line through to Jamaica on De-
cember 18, 1866 overshadowed every other considera-
tion.
The newspapers extolled the benefits of the new line

and marveled that Jamaica was now part of the Brook-
lyn horse car network. It was planned to reach Fulton
Ferry in one hour and 20 mins., providing regular service
at all hours of the day and evening. A resident of the
village of Jamaica described the opening of the line in
a letter to a Manhattan newspaper: "The day the horse
railroad was opened between Howard House, East New
York, and Jamaica, was one I still recall with interest.
I can see even now the funny procession of these stage
coach bodies rolling along the ancient street to the
abrupt 'end of track' at Jaggar's store (168th St.) Col.
DeGrauw, the president, was in the first car and various
other notables of the day were in the others. There were
six of these vermilion-hued box turtles, and great was
the acclaim of the villagers as the procession rolled
through the town. When the brigade reached the limit
and halted, each driver, without descending from his
throne, pulled a handle and each horse walked around,
swivelling the car on its trucks. When the car faced for
the return, down went the handle, locking the car body
to the truck frame, and with a crack of the whip, off

started the procession for Fast New York."
In the last days of the year 1866 the winter time table

for the horse cars was published; this shows hourly cars
to Union Course, and then every 15 mins. to East New
York. The fare was reduced from 10 cents a zone to 8
cents, making a through trip to East New York 16 cents,
and 2 I cents to the ferries.
William Durland's omnibuses, many of them purchased

new in October, 1865, were placed on the three stage
coach routes terminating at that time in Jamaica; the
Hempstead stage, operating over the Hempstead and
Jamaica plank road; the Freeport stage, which prob-
ably operated over the Merrick Plank Road, and which
had a connection with Near Rockaway; and the third
running to Far Rockaway over the Rockaway Plank Road~

In the great snow storms of those days that swept
huge drifts over the line from fields on all sides, the
little line managed nobly. On Thursday, Jan. 17, 1867
the worst blizzard since 1857 fell on Long Island. The
LIRR was snowed under completely but not so the horse
railroad. Colonel DeGrauw, with George Codwise, one
of the directors, personally manned a scraper, deter-
mined to clear the track, but had to retreat. When a
second storm fell on Sunday the 20th the Colonel gave
up altogether and substituted a sleigh service all the
way to East New York. These were well patronized, but
could hardly accommodate the travel. During the week
of the 21st nothing moved at all on the island except
the colonel's sleighs; it was a proud moment for him
when he got the first car through to Jamaica a week
later, well ahead of the Long Island Rail Road's first
train. In December of the same year 1867, heavy snows
again paralyzed all transportation. On the I Ith and 12th
all-day snows blocked trains, cutting off all but a few
hardy stragglers to East New York. Of course, the LIRR
was snowed under but on Friday morning Colonel De-
Grauw got the first snow plow pushed to East New
York and carried the passengers on his sleighs to Ja-
maica; as the papers remarked: "But for the energy and
pluck of the East New York & Jamaica R. R., we should
have been ice-olated on Friday and Saturday!"

The year 1868 passed seemingly without incident on
the system. In March 1869 the company decided to
start its cars henceforth from the famous Howard House,
at the northwest corner of Atlantic and Alabama Ayes.,
and at 24 mm. intervals. This schedule was started
Apr. 24th from 6:30 A.M. to 8:30 P.M.; the East New
New York-Union Course service was increased to a 12
mm. headway. The patronage and service at this time
must have been very good judging from the praise of
the newspapers. "For promptness and punctuality the
East New York & Jamaica R. R. are fully equal to either
of the steam railroads. The superintendent of this road
knows how to regulate his business and is making this
a popular and well-patronized road." and again: "The
number who travel over the East New York & Jamaica
R. R. speak of the punctuality and good management
under which the cars are run." Since the company
failed to make any report of its activities to the State
Engineer as required until 1870, we have no definite
information as to the passengers carried or the revenues
during the first five years. Since the 20 mm. summer
schedule between 6:30 A.M. and 8 P.M. was again in-



5
augurated on May 3, 1870, it would appear that the
traffic on the line continued excellent.
From the first report filed on Feb. 25, 1870 we learn

several interesting facts. The total cost of the road up
to then amounted to only $255,367.82; the rail was all
45 to 56 lb. iron; there were 14 cars and 44 horses. On
Nov. 17, 1870 the company filed its second report,
containing substantially the same information.

In 1871 a man who guided the operations of the com-
pany for the next twenty years first entered upon his
tour of duty as superintendent—William M. Scott. Noth-
ing is known of him personally, but since he remained
with the company for so long and through several or-
ganizational changes, we can be sure that he was an
unusually capable and efficient manager. From 1871
down to June 1893 Scott managed the plant, so that
he witnessed the horse cars, the Van Depoele cars, and
the standard trolley system during his long career. The
local paper remarks: "Mr. Scott possesses qualifications
for his position of a superior order. He is moreover a
courteous and obliging gentleman."
Considering the evident prosperity of the line, the

good-will of the people and its efficient management,
it comes as a shock to learn that the railroad went into
foreclosure in 1871. When the East New York & Ja-
maica R. R. was first organized in 1865, it gave a first
mortgage for $30,000 on Sept. I, 1865. Then on Sept.
I, 1866 and Sept. I, 1867, two new mortgages were
made to Mr. Z. M. P. Black, the secretary, as trustee,
to secure bonds. These two mortgages were foreclosed
on Oct. 23, 1871, and the company's property and
franchises were put up for sale at public auction on
Jan. 3, 1872. The property was knocked down to John
H. Sutphin acting for Edward M. Osborn for the sum
of $76,000. Osborn organized a new company called
the Jamaica, Woodhaven and Brooklyn Railroad Com-
pany on August 3, 1872 to take over the assets, and on
August 27, 1872, he conveyed the property to the new
company.

The foreclosure and sale of the old property inspired
considerable speculation and many disagreeable rumors
concerning Aaron DeGrauw's personal integrity and hon-
esty. Almost all of this unpleasantness was inspired by
the repeated but wholly unsubstantiated charges of
fraud made by Mr. James H. Elmore, the company's
first treasurer, against Aaron DeGrauw and the com-
pany. Not all the facts behind this 80-year old litiga-
tion inspired by Elmore are available today, but he cer-
tainly seems to have, been in the wrong, for in each
of twelve lawsuits reviewed in the courts, judgments
were awarded against him. The first disagreement arose
on Oct. I, 1866 when Elmore, as treasurer, received
from Black, as secretary, $1108.08 of company funds
which he later refused to return, claiming that the com-

pany owed him for 36 shares of the stock which he had
retired, and claiming $1800 as due him from the com-
pany. The case was brought to trial and decided
against Elmore. Elmore appealed but the judgment
of the lower court was affirmed. On a third hearing
the court awarded the company $1657.80 and 5% al-
lowance.

Apparently, while the original suit was still in litiga-
tion, Elmore for some reason had DeSrauw arrested by
a Justice of the Peace in Flushing. DeGrauw retaliated
by suing Elmore for malicious prosecution and false ar-
rest. DeGrauw won the case but Elmore promptly ap-
pealed; finally in Sept. 1873 DeGrauw won an award
of $2000, amounting with costs to nearly $4000.
All this litigation went far to injure the reputation of

DeGrauw and the horse railroad as well, and to coun-
teract the bad effect, DeGrauw wrote a letter to the
editor of the Democrat in Jamaica defending his actions
and the injustice of Elmore's charges. He pointed out
that not one jury had ever been convinced by Elmore's
arguments, but that, on the contrary, $22,601.22 in
judgments had been assessed against nim in eight dif-
ferent suits up to 1872.

In the final lawsuit, decided in 1874, we get a more
detailed view of Elmore's business methods. In con-
nection with some of the business transactions of the
horse railroad, Elmore came to owe DeGrauw some $15,-
000. When Mr. DeGrauw came to settle Mr. Elmore
offered payment in the stock of the Mahoning Coal Co.,
and Mr. DeGrauw accepted it upon Elmore's assurance
that the company was free from debt and would pay
a dividend in 60 days. When no dividends came, Mr.
DeGrauw investigated and discovered that the company
was in debt over $40,000 and would never pay a divi-
dend. Mr. DeGrauw, feeling himself wronged, returned
the stock to Elmore and demanded his money, but El-
more declined to pay. DeGrauw sued and won a ver-
did but Elmore appealed. Again the court declared
for DeGrauw, who recovered $14,502.
Unable to beat DeGrauw in the courts, the dishonest

treasurer seems to have launched a campaign of ugly
rumors to discredit the railroad and its president; when
DeGrauw's house mysteriously burned in 1871, Elmore
hinted that DeGrauw had lighted the fire himself to
collect the insurance money for court expenses; also
that DeGrauw had pocketed $5000 in secret fees from
the company in shady stock transactions, and that most
of his property in Jamaica was mortgaged or attached
by various liens and judgments. The enmity engendered
by all this litigation certainly harmed the railroad com-
pany, and was of such personal bitterness as to be only
dissolved by death; in 1877 Elmore died and with his
death ended a very unpleasant chapter in the history
of the horse car line.



6
THE MIDDLE AGES

The fifteen year period from the extinction of the old
East New York and Jamaica R. R. in 1872 to the intro-
duction of electricity in 1887 may fittingly be called the
middle ages in Jamaica Avenue's history, for our infor-
mation covering these years is scanty both for the horse
car and the turnpike operation. The simple fact is that
very little occurred during these years beyond the ordi-
nary everyday routine. Both the road and the horse
cars were a familiar part of the scene in Queens, and
called for no special comment.
In 1873 George Durland, one of the old directors, was

elected president of the company, and he remained in
this position until 1880. The new management improved
the property by buying six new cars which were put on
the road in May 1873. The fare was reduced one cent,
through passengers paying 15 cents instead of 16 cents
as before; short haul passengers continued to pay a 10
cent fare. One new open car was added in 1875 rais-
ing the total to 21.
A little incident that occurred on the line the night of

Sept. 16, 1875 raised for a moment the curtain of si-
lence that envelopes the company during these years.
James Mann a farmhand, while returning home from
New York on his wagon, fell asleep, but his horses, by
following the horse car track, kept the wagon homeward
bound. One of the horse cars eventually overtook the
wagon, and the driver of the car, John Horan, called
to Mann to turn out of the track. Mann naturally failed
to hear and obey, so Horan jumped from his car, mount-
ed Mann's wagon and struck him several times over the
head inflicting serious injuries. Mann, on returning,
notified the police, and a warrant was issued for Horan's
arrest. Subsequent issues of the paper fail to tell us
of the sequel of this early assault case.
The turnpike, after its thorough repaying in 1866 at

the time of the track laying, must have remained in
good condition, for the following compliment appeared
in the papers during the Christmas of I 875:

"Bad roads are now the rule. The Jamaica and
Brooklyn Plank Road seems to be the exception,
thanks to the iron rail and paved track. If the
Hempstead company will imitate the example, there
will be rejoicing, not only among the farmers, but
those who look for dividends from the stock. Iron
beats plank."

In the spring of T876 all the horse cars must have
been freshly repainted, for in the "Democrat" of that
period occurs the following comment: "The neat and
gay appearance of the East New York & Jamaica horse
cars in our streets yesterday (May I) suggests progress."

The year 1877 brought considerable changes to the
horse car lines and the LIRR in East New York. On April
2, 1877 the Long Island R. R. secured permission from
the Common Council of the City of Brooklyn to restore
steam service into Flatbush Aye. On April 9th the work
of construction began and on July 2, 1877 the first
through trains were operated into the Flatbush Avenue
terminal. This meant the end of East New York as a
steam terminal for Long Island trains.
Just before Christmas of 1877 the Jamaica, Wood-

haven & Brooklyn Co. reduced the fare for a ride be-
tween 168th St. and Van Wyck Avenue from 10c to sc.
Hitherto passengers boarding the cars anywhere on the
line had to pay 10c or buy tickets in advance to benefit
from the bargain rate of 20 tickets for $1. Tickets were
now abolished, and all paid 5c fora ride within the village
limits. Arrangements were also made with the Long
Island R. R. by which transfer tickets might be used be-
tween Jamaica and Flatbush Aye. terminal at reduced
rates; these tickets were sold by the horse car driver and
were acceptable on the steam trains at East New York
railroad stations on the Long Island R. R. The following
notice was put up in the car windows:

"Purchase your tickets from the driver for Flatbush
Aye. (via rapid transit) South, Wall, Fulton and
Catharine Ferries, Prospect Park and Greenwood
via Atlantic Aye. horse cars.

Of all the various forms of rail transportation, the
steam engine is probably the best known, and most
symbolic of railroading to the average man in the street.
How amazed this same man in thestreet might be today
were little steam engines hooked onto buses to pick
him up at his corner! Fantastic as the idea may sound,
this very thing happened in the East New York area
only 80 years ago. Several railroads had discovered
that it was possible to haul trains through crowded
streets using smaller engines than usual and at slow
speed. Indeed, the South Side Railroad of L. I. used
such small steam engines, called dummies, to haul their
trains from Bushwick Station through McKibbin St.,
Broadway, and S. Bth St. to the ferry from 1869to 1876.
The next step was to adapt the little dummy engine to
street transportation by coupling it to one or more
horse cars. The Brooklyn City R. R. was the first to
make this idea successful; its perfected dummy engine,
the "Bay Cliff", resembled a small one-horse street
car in external appearance. It was very short, having
but five windows on each side. Inside was a vertical
steam boiler with a short smokestack extending out
through the roof. It had but four wheels driven directly
by a piston and connecting rod from a small cylinder
located very near the front wheel. Because the engine
was neither large nor powerful, its smoke and cinder
output was small and not too objectionable.

The Brooklyn City R. R. opened its dummy line on
Third Aye., Brooklyn, between 25th St. and Fort Hamil-
ton in August 1877. The success of this experiment at-
tracted the attention of the Broadway Railroad Co. of
Brooklyn, and theycame toan agreement with the Brook-
lyn City R. R. to operate jointly a steam line on Fulton
St. between East NewYork and Cypress Hills Cemetery,
a route paralleling Jamaica Avenue. The Broadway

Jamaicato Flatbush Ave. 19c
Union Course to Flatbush Ave. 9c
Jamaica to all the ferries, Prospect
Pk. and Greenwood 23c
Union Course to all the ferries, Pros-
pect Pk. and Greenwood 13c
Jamaica to East New York 15c



Broadway RR - steam trailers for Cypress Hills extensiony (Historical Society of Pennsylvania)



7
R. R. Co. petitioned the Supreme Court on Sept. 29,
1877 to construct the "Cypress Hills Extension" as it
was called, and was given permission to begin construc-
tion on Oct. I, 1877. The Brooklyn City R. R. secured
similar permission and on Nov. 9, 1877 filed in the Office
of the Register of Kings County a map showing the
change of its existing terminus at Alabama & Atlantic
Ayes. to Jamaica Aye. and Crescent St.

In the first week of September 1877 surveys, levels,
etc. were made to check the feasibility of the plan. The
report proving favorable, permission was sought and
obtained from the Common Council of Brooklyn late in
September. On Nov. 26, 1877 gangs of laborers set
to work on the new railroad and by December 4th had
completed the track as far as the water works at Chest-
nut St. The Wharton Co., later to become a famous
name in railroad and street railway building, was in
charge of construction.. The ties used were all white oak,
chestnut and yellow pine; the rails were all 60 lb. iron.
During the winter horse car operation was planned, but in
the spring the Baldwin engines were to be substituted.
The fare was set at 3c. The new extension opened on
Jan. I, 1878.

The Broadway R. R. Co. was so pleased with the re-
sults of its steam dummy experiment that it decided to
extend the dummy operation to Broadway itself. On
June 19, 1878 the new line was opened from Flushing
Aye. through to Cypress Hills in the presence of the
railroad officials, the members of the Common Council
and other high civic officials.

The Bushwick Railroad Co., not to be outdone by its
neighbors also adopted steam in June 1878 for its Cy-
press Hills line, and on Sept. 3, 1881 for its Lutheran
Cemetery line.

The sudden andrather remarkable expansion of steam
dummy operation had a profound effect upon the Ja-
maica horse car line. The new Cypress Hills extension
running along Fulton St. to the cemetery entrance broke
the monopoly that the Jamaica cars nad hitherto en-
joyed of the heavy and profitable cemetery traffic, and
revenues began to decline sharply. Most people pre-
ferred the faster and more frequent steam service to the
plodding old horse cars; the steam dummy also had the
advantage of novelty. The local paper was moved to
comment:
"... the route from Williamsburgh to Cypress
Hills locality is now one of the most inviting sub-
urbs of Brooklyn. The introduction of steam and the
admirable management of the line, no delay, no
annoyances, quick and very comfortable transit,
polite and intelligent conductors, roomy cars, which,
although under steam motors, stop at any and all
points on the notification of the passengers, must
render that part of the island one of the most in-
viting building spots outside of New York."

In one year passenger traffic on the Jamaica Avenue
horse cars plunged from 154,460 in 1878 to 73,209 in
1879, a drop of more than 50%. The company's profit
also fell from $3727 in 1878 to only $278 in 1879. In
this connection it might be of interest to tabulate here
the decline in riding during the hard times of the 70s.
Note how the line recovered only in 1884, a year after
the steam dummy competition ceased:

In the face of such unequal competition there were
only two alternatives for the company to take: either
adopt steam themselves or go bankrupt. In the spring
of 1878 the company definitely planned to put steam on
Jamaica Aye. Superintendent Scott, queried by a
"Democrat" reporter, indicated that it was Pres. De-
Grauw's intention to use steam as a motive power, so
as to meet the competition of the Broadway R. R. Three
months later the scheme was still "under consideration"
but nothing had been done. Possibly the narrow margin
of profit on the horse railroad and turnpike during the
last 10 years made any such conversion prohibitive.
The railroad had never netted more than a few thousand
dollars profit in any one year, and this would hardly
have paid for several steam dummies. As late as the
spring of 1879 the idea was still in the air, but thereafter
the scheme seems definitely to have been discarded.

In early 1879 a consideration more important than
the steam dummy question was seriously claiming the
attention of the directors of the company. In 1880 the
30 year charter of the plank road was dueto expire and
unless a renewal could be obtained, Jamaica Aye. would
pass out of their possession and become a public road.
The directors hit upon a convenient solution, one des-
tined to cause considerable litigation 20 years later,
namely, a merger of the old Jamaica & Brooklyn Plank
Road Co. and the Jamaica, Woodhaven & Brooklyn
Railroad Co. Inasmuch as the railroad company had a
corporate life of 99 years from Aug. 3, 1872, it seemed
desirable to merge both companies into one, and so
conserve the plank road company's title to Jamaica
Aye. until 1971.

The directors managed to secure the favorable atten-
tion of Senator Oakley, soon to be president of the New
York, Woodhaven & Rockaway R. R., and under his
guidance the bill to merge both companies successfully
passed the Senate on Feb. 5, 1879 and the Assembly in
March. On May 22, 1880 the "Jamaica and Brooklyn

Year
1872
1873
1874
1875
1876
1877
1878
1879
1880
1881
1882
1883
1884
1885
1886
1887
1888
1889
1890
1891
1892
1893
1894

Passengers C
22,61 I
206,204
194,476
190,991
173,006
158,967
154,460
73,209
81,415
76,206
71,851
73,957
106,548
118,454
133,960
183,264
230,489

?
437,712
598,482
888,157
988,305
595,419

-arried Profit
?

$1970.14
1275.92
206.34
1003.30
2015.77
3727.18
278.51
163.04
?
832.10
397.68

(deficit 5,255.29
?

(deficit) 1147.51
?
?
7



8
Road Company" was formally incorporated as a con-
solidation of the two predecessor companies by virtue
of chap. 156 of the Laws of 1879. A stock transfer ar-
rangement was agreed upon, and the papers filed on
May 22, 1880.
The biggest task of the new company was to survive

the competition of the steam lines; as it happened, time
was on their side. The first effort had been made as
early as September 1878 in the shape ofa general fare
reduction and faster service. Cars would henceforth
leave Jamaica for Cypress Hills every 40 mins. from
6:40 A.M. to 10:00 P.M. The fare structure was almost
modern.

Luckily for the Jamaica company, the steam problem
solved itself. The very efficiency of the steam dummy
engines on Broadway gradually proved their undoing.
Broadway was a thoroughfare crowded with carriages
and carts, and thickly settled along its whole length.
The faster and heavier steam dummies got into frequent
collisions with trucks, and residents complained about the
cinders and soot deposited on clothes and store fronts,
because of the many engines passing by at frequent in-
tervals. In Dec. 1879 a civic organization was formed
to fight against the dummies, and a "Committee on
Agitation" waited upon the officials of the Broadway
R. R. A year and a half later—Sept. 1881—the com-
pany capitulated and began arrangements to bring back
the horse cars. The final blow against the dummies was
struck by the Highway Commissioners of the Town of
New Lots, through whose bailiwick the Cypress Hills
extension operated. These gentlemen decreed that the
railroad must place flagmen at each of the 14 grade
crossings on the line or else run horse cars. The com-
pany could hardly afford such an investment, so on
August 14, 1882 the steam dummies were withdrawn.
The Jamaica horse car officials were jubilant. Their

rivals were once again reduced to a 6 m.p.h. horse car
operation, offering no better service than the Jamaica
Aye. line. The effect of the dummy's removal from the
Cypress Hills service is strikingly reflected in the passen-
ger and revenue table for Jamaica Aye. The passenger
load nearly doubled in 1884, and thereafter Jamaica
Aye. registered a slow gain year after year all during
the 80's, reaching a climax of nearly one million in 1893.

In an effort to attract new riders and offer more
comfortable, roomy quarters for passengers, the railroad
company placed in service nine large new horse cars,
numbers 22-30. The plank road also received some at-
tention; a steam stone crusher was bought, and with it
the avenue from East New York to the car barns was
macadamized for the first time. It was planned to con-
tinue the task eastward; in Nov. 1882 arrangements
were completed to macadamize parts of the road in
Jamaica.
The excursion business to the cemeteries must have

been lively, judging from the following remark in the

local paper on Decoration Day in 1882:
"We doubt not that today our horse railroad will
do a good business. It is an institution that our
citizens as far as possible should patronize. Its
value and importance will be the best appreciated
when the people feel the want of it. It fills a place
not filled by any other road."

On November I, 1883 the horse car management re-
sumed the running of through cars between East New
York and Jamaica, thus eliminating the necessity of
changing cars at Cypress Hills; the new schedule called
for cars to leave each end of the line half hourly from
6:30 in the morning until 9 o'clock in the evening and
one trip at 10 P.M.

Perhaps the most extensive change in the operation
and management of the Jamaica Aye. line occurred in
the summer of 1884, when the decision was reached to
move the car stables and shops of the company from
the old site at 78th St. to a new one on the south side
of Jamaica Aye. between 90th and 92nd Sts. Just
whatprompted this move does not appear in the papers,
and after so many years we can only speculate as to the
real motives. It is just possible that the owners of the
old Union Course, on the northwest corner of which the
car stables were located, and who were then preparing
to sell the property for building lots, were in some way
able to prevail upon Pres. DeGrauw to move to a new
site; this, of course, is pure speculation.
At any rate, in the last days of August 1884 carpen-

ters were busy erecting buildings on the new property
near Woodhaven Blvd., including car shops, horse sheds,
waiting rooms, etc., and at the same time the old struc-
tures at 78th St. were being torn down. It was expected
to install in the new buildings a brand new invention to
help dispatching: a telephone system. By the first week
of October 1884 all the cars and horses nad been trans-
ferred and the new shops were in service.
Damage to rolling stock on the streets is hardly a nov-

elty, but by a curious accident, one of the Jamaica Aye.
horse cars was damaged while standing unattended in
the new car shed. A Springfield farmer named Covert,
driving to market in Brooklyn, fell asleep, and his horses,
following the car track, trotted through the open doors,
and rammed the pole of the farm wagon into the side
of one of the new cars. The farmer awoke in a hurry,
and there was a little matter of a $50 settlement con-
cluded before he continued to Brooklyn with his produce.
The following spring, Sunday, May 24, 1885 to be ex-

act, great excitement was occasioned at Cypress Hills
cemetery gate by the derailment of open excursion car
No. 28, one of the large models bought in 1880, as it
turned into the siding. The horses, feeling the car leave
the rails, took fright and bolted for the toll gate down
the road. The traces broke from the iron whiffle-trees
and struck the animals' heels at each step; the car,
lurching ahead from the first excited pulls of the horses
rammed into a building, ripped off the boards, and came
to a stop inside the hole it had made. The one passen-
ger inside was shaken up but unhurt.

Two months later, a horse passing under the LIRR
bridge, took fright and pulled the iron whiffle-tree from
the pin attached to the car; the suddenness of the act
jerked the car driver over the dash and across the pave-

lamaica to East New York 15c
lamaica & Cypress Hills 12c
lamaica & Union Course 10c
lamaica & Van Wyclc Ave 5c



9
ment, bruising him badly.
Rarely did the solid structure of the horse cars them-

selves break, but it happened at least once. On March
2, 1886 as one of the cars was clearing the Van Wyck
switch, a wheel broke in half, and the car had to be
dragged off the track.
To improve the conditions of traveling and to provide

some shelter; for waiting passengers, Pres. DeGrauw in
October 1885 gave orders to install waiting rooms in
each of the three toll gates along Jamaica Aye. between
East* New York and Jamaica. The gate kept by William
Smith at Hemlock St. already had this convenience, but
the other two did not. The newspaper of course warmly
applauded the management's thoughtfulness.
The year 1886 was a memorable one in the history of

the street railways of New York, for it marked the first
great struggle between labor and management over the
perennial issues of wages and hours. In February of
that year the pioneer labor organization, the Knights of
Labor, had succeeded in getting the Manhattan authori-
ties to pass a law requiring every car driver to have a
license. Then in March 1886 the Knights called their
first great strike on the Dry Dock, East Broadway and
Battery R.R., in April on the Third Avenue R.R., and in
rapid succession, all the other street railway companies.
The companies were unable to hire strike-breakers be-
cause of the license law, and the horse car lines were
paralyzed for varying periods. In the end most com-
panies agreed to a new standard of 12 hours work for
$2 a day, but no other concessions were won.
The repercussions of this great struggle were felt

all over the city, even on the small lines which took no
part in the fight. On March 10, 1886 a militant group
of drivers, dissatisfied with the wages Pres. DeGrauw
paid on the Jamaica Aye. line, tore up a portion of the
track on the avenue, stoned the cars, and threatened to
burn the car stables to the ground unless their demands
were met. DeGrauw refused to come to terms, and
withdrew the cars from the street on the 10th, I Ith and
12th. But Saturday the 13th, he felt himself strong
enough to discharge all the malcontents and hire all
new drivers and conductors, and the cars resumed their
usual trips that morning.
With the strike threat safely behind him, DeGrauw

began extensive improvements on the car tracks and the
grading of the plank road for the whole length of the
avenue. In the first week of May several car loads of
heavy timber were dumped at Richmond Hill and Wood-
haven Blvd. for tie replacement under the tracks; the old
ties had become so decayed that the spikes no longer
held. Two weeks later on May 17thworkmen began to
plow up, add soil, grade and roll with heavy stone
crushers the whole surface of the turnpike, the last ex-
tensive improvement to be made on the road.
Already in the spring of 1886 there were rumors in

the air of an impending change in the turnpike and
horse car company; DeGrauw, queried by reporters,
confirmed that he was in conversation with the Brooklyn
City R.R. Co., but that nothing definite had come of it.
The change, when it came the following year, proved a
surprise to everyone.

ELECTRICITY COMES TO JAMAICA AVENUE

In the late 80s the little Jamaica Aye. line suddenly
changed from an obscure and very conventional route
to an unusual and highly novel operation. Neither the
ordinary traveler nor the traction specialist would have
noticed anything special or remarkable about the horse
car company's location or physical plant. Why, then,
should the line rise to such conspicuous position, not
only amongst the street railways of New York City, but
amongst the operations of the whole country? The
answer lies in one word: electricity.
Many experiments had been made during the 70's

and 80's to adapt electricity to the propulsion of vehi-
cles; most of them never passed the experimental stage
because of weak and unsteady power, or serious defects
in motor design. A young Belgian immigrant named
Charles Van Depoele was the first to design a practical
motor and power plant adapted to street railway use.
Van Depoele succeeded in interesting the Field family,
whose most famous member, Cyrus W., had laid the At-
lantic cable in 1866, and with the Fields, founded the
Van Depoele Electric Railway Motor Co. in February
1886. One of the incorporators of the new company
was William A. Stiles; this gentleman with his brother
or perhaps, relative, Aaron K. Stiles, looked about for
favorable locations where they might try out their new
electric railway. The installation at Richmond, Va., is
already well-known. It is just possible that their selec-
tion of Jamaica, L. 1., as a second testing ground was

motivated by the nearness of the line to the great street
railway systems of Brooklyn and Manhattan. A success
in Queens would undoubtedly be closely watched by the
other railway managements, and very soon adopted.
The business possibilities were probably more favorable
here than anywhere else in the country.

The corporate arrangements of the Stiles people are
rather obscure, but Aaron K. Stiles seems to have formed
an organization called the Long Island Electric Railway
Co., and on April 15, 1887, he signed an agreement with
the Jamaica and Brooklyn Road Co. to lease its line and
substitute electric cars. On Oct. I, 1887, Stiles formally
took charge of the road.
The good citizens of Cypress Hills and Woodhaven

were amazed to see the Saturday calm of Aug. 13, 1887,
rudely shattered by the erection of large poles every few
hundred feet all along Jamaica Aye. The local gossips
speculated long and loud as to the reason for this rather
sudden activity on the part of the horserailroad company
in the mid-summer heat. Some thought it was for an
electric railway, others for an electric light or telephone
or telegraph. The local newspaper, on inquiry, received
the information that the poles were for electric light
and telephone dispatching on the horse car line. This
seemed reasonable enough; 'in fact several new ties and
rails were being installed and the roadbed smoothed.
Apparently by early September the Woodhaven car

barn people coyly admitted that the poles had another



Top - Van Depoele motor no. 4 at 163rd St. and Jamaica Aye.
in 1888 Center - Open electric no. 14 with motors in middle
at 168th St. (1890) Conductor (left) Eugene M. Bennett and
motorman (right) Frank Schwartz Bottom- no. 19, August 1892



10

purpose besides illumination, for the papers in that
month first use the words "electric railway". When the
new wire arrived on Sept. 3 for stringing on the poles,
it was found to be defective and had to be sent back
for renewal. Notwithstanding many obstacles and de-
lays, the new wire soon arrived and was quickly installed
during September, reaching Van Wyck toll gate by the
27th. During the first week of October the last hanger
was put into place at Jamaica, while at the Woodhaven
car barn the engine for generating power was placed
in position. The first of the new cars was expected to
arrive on Oct. 13th.
The public curiosity as to the construction of the road

and the method of propulsion of the cars became so
great that the company printed in the Jamaica paper
a general outline of the first principles of electric trac-
tion, and of their installation in particular. Thecompany
took pains to point out that the Van Depoele electric
system was not an experiment by any means, but that a
dozen European railways were in operation already and
that in North America, Van Depoele installations al-
ready existed in Binghamton, N. V., Toronto, Ont., Min-
neapolis, Minn., Montgomery, Ala., Detroit Mich., Wind-
sor, Ont., Appleton, Wis., Port Huron,.Mich., Scranton,
Pa., and Lima, Ohio. Additional contracts had already
been signed for railways at Omaha, Neb., Ansonia,
Conn., St. Catharines, Ont., and Dayton, Ohio. The
points of advantage stressed are all familier to us;
greater economy of operation, greater speed, and
elimination of dust and odors.
At V/oodhaven, the company related, was a 175 HP

Putnam engine belted to a 100 HP Van Depoeie electric
generator, equipped with a governor to adjust itself
to fluctuating line loads. The current was to be trans-
mitted ever two overhead wires, one for the positive
and one for the negative electricity. The cars were on
order from the Pullman Co., and each would have one
12 HP motor at one end, while the one open car would
have the motor in the middle of the car. The motor
design was very plain "consisting of a single pair of pow-
erful electromagnets provided on top and bottom with
projecting pole pieces between which the armature
presses two brushes made of copper strips." A second
set of brushes provided reverse movement. The gear-
ing was unusual. "A large gear wheel is carried be-
neath the motor on a steel countershaft, and mounted
en this are two sprocket wheels corresponding with two
others on the forward axle of the car. Upon these runs
a specially made steel belt so that on starting the motor,
the armature shaft revolves its pinion upon the large
gear placed on the countershaft, and the latter com-
municates motion to the axles by the sprocket wheels
and steel belt."
Current collection was very primitive. A short wooden

dolly with two little pulleys at each end was drawn along
the top of the double trolley wire by two cables at-
tached to the top of the car. There was no trolley pole.
During mid-October one of the newly delivered cars

was fitted up for a trial trip. Delays of all kinds post-
poned this trip but the new rails for the use of the elec-
tric cars began arriving during the last days of October.
The old horse car rails had never been renewed since
the original track laying of 1866, and the joints and sur-

faces were unsuitable for heavy electric cars.
On the evening of Oct. 26, 1887, the company very

nearly lost one of its power cables. A clamp, sustain-
ing the cable over the LIRR tracks, slipped, allowing the
cable to sag to within eight feet of the ground. Fortu-
nately the flagman at the crossing notified the company
in time, for the first locomotive coming along would
have cut the cable. A test run over the route was
planned for Nov. 21. By this time the machinery was
all in order and the men were employed in putting the
overhead in place in East New York. In the process of
Installing the wires, the Brooklyn authorities interfered,
apparently objecting to live wires in the streets. The
company appealed to the Supreme Court and got an
injunction against municipal interference. This ended
the trouble.

The last of the consignment of 6 cars from the Pull-
man Co. was due to arrive at Woodhaven on Dec. I.
Because the cars were all single-end operated, it was
necessary to construct three turntables in the street, one
each at the Jamaica and East New York ends and one
at Woodhaven carbarn. These were finished by Nov.
26th.
After many discouraging delays, the new electric line

triumphantly opened on Saturday, Dec. 17, 1887. The
cars were the sensation of the day; everyone who could
walk lined the streets of Jamaica that Saturday morn-
ing and gaped at the miracle passing before their eyes.
The most impressive feature of the whole performance
was the complete absence of horse, mule or other under-
standable source of power. Sober persons secretly sus-
pected a concealed horse inside; others had more in-
genious explanations. "I don't see how it is. Where's
the power?" Why, on them wires, and the wind makes
them cars go. Don't you know when we have thunder
and lightning how the wind blows?" This latter explana-
tion seemed the most satisfying.

The cars accommodated only 20 passengers and ev-
eryone was eager to ride. Most were motivated by
curiosity, but many others rode to gain the prestige of
being able to say that tested the "electric".
The regular schedule could not be faithfully observed
that exciting Saturday; the excitement was too much for
the water pumps supplying water for the boilers. They
became clogged withsand and when the steam gave out,
so did the current, leaving the cars ingloriously marooned
out on the line.
The company reduced the fare the same day from the

old rate of 15 cents to 10 cents for any distance. One
irate young lady wrote a letter to the editor about this,
not realizing that the old 5 cent village limit rate had
been abolished. A new schedule was posted effective
Jan. I, 1888, providing for half-hourly service from 5
A.M. to 12 P.M.
The electric road certainly chose the worst possible

time of the year to inaugurate the new electric power.
Winter closes in on Long Island usually the first week of
November, and this year was no exception. All sorts
of trouble soon developed from icing conditions and
heavy snows. The water supply at the Woodhaven barn
gave out and the company had to connect with the city
supply to feed the boilers. As the cars moved along,
they attracted considerable attention by the bright arc-



I
ing on the trolley wire.
Due to an error in measurement, it was discovered

that the car wheels were four inches too long for the
turntables and all three of these had to be altered early
in January, 1888. The same week a car was delayed
by the dropping of a bolt that held the current cables
overhead. To minimize the terrific arcing on the ice-
glazed overhead the company designed and patented
wire scrapers and equipped all the cars. On Jan. 13
the large belt connecting the generator with the steam
engine snapped with a loud report "frightening the em-
ployee ana a lot of horses in the barn half to death."
The line remained shut down until 3 P.M. until Supt.
Scott obtained an emergency belt. On Feb. 21 a sud-
den thaw melted the snows and flooded the roadbed
in Cypress Hills and then froze overnight. The slow
speed enforced by this condition ruined the schedules.
All these handicaps paled into insignificance beside

the great disaster of Mar. 12, 13 and 14, 1888. The
great blizzard of '88 is so familiar in New York that no
description is necessary here. In Jamaica, at least,
coiossal drifts blocked the avenue and in the open
country, westand east of the village, the landscape was
one vast whiteness. The LIRR was absolutely buried
for two weeks. One week after the blizzard the elec-
tric railway made its first attempt to dig out the road-
bed. Four days later the snow-shovelers appeared in
Jamaica and triumphantly cleared the last foot of rail
on Saturday, Mar. 24, just ten days after the last snow-
flake had fallen. The company owned no snow plows
and had to do the entire job by hand.

On the whole the operations of the electric cars were
far more satisfactory to the people and more profitable
to the company than the horse cars. The trip from Ja-
maica to East New York now took only 38 mins., as
against 55 by horse car. On Saturdays and Sundays
each car averaged $20 per day, excellent for a 20-seat
car. Mr. E. P. Morris, the electrical contractor who in-
stalled the road, felt sufficiently satisfied with his proj-
ect to move on to Ansonia, Conn. During April other
vexatious delays cropped up caused by the slipping of
a belt, and other troubles the following two Sundays,
so that the 38 mm. ride stretched out to two and a half
hours. People grumbled but business was still good.
Traffic to the Cypress Hills Cemetery was so heavy that
two-car trains were being considered.
With the advent of warm spring weather the company

set to work on a second improvement, the double track-
ing of the line from East New York to Woodhaven car
barn. Early in May the company began replacing the
old track with a center-bearing rail, and at the same
time laid a second new steel rail at a cost of $7500 per
mile. To handle the crowds at Cypress Hills Cemetery,
a double siding was constructed. On Sunday, May 27,
the new track was placed in service just in time to
handle the Decoration Day crowds at the cemetery.
Replacement of individual defective rails went on as

far as Jamaica and on Sept. 3, 1888, the last old rails
were carted away.

The railroad was well organized for the 1888 season;
five motor cars were on hand and three were being built
and four large open trailers were available. Oddly
enough, the new snow plow, which had a motor, was
pressed into service on Decoration Day, hauling the
three or four large open trailers! Cypress Hills cars
ran every 10 mins., but on Sunday the cars ran just as
often as possible. Only once and then only for an hour,
was there a delay because of motor troubles. During
July travel increased 20% and the road for the first timebegan to operate on a paying basis. The cars must
have made good speed for we read that on Sept. 3 a
horse took fright as a car took the Van Wyck siding,
and upset the carriage it was pulling. As a public serv-
ice the company installed lights at intervals along Ja-
maica Avenue during November 1888.
Winter with its burden of snow and sleet again caused

a halt in service on Nov. 25 but cars started again on
the following day. On Dec. 9 Car No. 6 derailed at
164th St., Jamaica, but was righted by another car.
Late in December the company announced its plan to
replace the old track with new and heavier T rail be-
tween the Woodhaven depot and Jamaica. The winter
slush and water, filtering into the 168th St. turntable,made it inoperative at times, so the company, on Janu-
ary 14, 1889, raised its level 6 inches and thereby kept
it dry. Again wire icing slowed the cars. The con-
ductor, we read, in late January, had to get out and
walk along the line with a long pole, knocking ice off
the wire while the car followed behind.

In February the company was optimistic enough to
consider extending the railroad eastward to Hollis, but
nothing came of this. With the coming of spring various
odd rumors cropped up about a change of management
on the electric road. The rumor was confirmed in June
1889, when a statement was made to the press. The
stockof Colonel Aaron DeGrauw and other directors was
bought out by Edward N. Field, a son of Cyrus W.
Field, who then organized the Jamaica and Brooklyn
Electric Railroad and Turnpike Co. DeGrauw and the
old directors sold out all their interests including the
turnpike. The effect of this was that Stiles' operation
of the Jamaica Aye. railroad property came to an end,
for theirs was but a leasehold.
As soon as the sale was announced, a reporter called

on Mr. Field to find out the company's background and
future plans, but was put off with all his questions un-
answered. Field was a partner in the Philadelphia bank-
ing firm of Field, Lindley, Weichers & Co. It seems
likely that the Jamaica purchase was made as a specu-
lation; at any rate the banking house must have failed
very soon after taking over the Jamaica property, and
all of its assets, including the Jamaica trolley, fell to
the great Philadelphia banking house of Drexel, Morgan
& Company.



12

JAMAICA AVENUE UNDER DREXEL, MORGAN & CO

Drexel, Morgan & Co. promptly installed their own
officers to manage the Jamaica and Brooklyn Road Co.
The newly "elected" president of the corporation was
Samuel Spencer, formerly general manager of the Bal-
timore and Ohio R.R., and manaaer of the railroad de-
partment of Drexel, Morgan & Co. The secretary, H.
Schermerhorn, and treasurer, E. P. Bromley, were then
clerks in the same department of the banking house.
William M. Scott wasagain superintendent of the road.
The new management injected fresh capital into the

improvement of the Jamaica Aye. line. One of the
very first projects to be taken up was the double track-
ing of the Woodhaven-Jamaica section, still operated
with patched-up horse car rail. In May the former man-
agement had planned to lay T rail beginning June Ist,
but this was later changed to center-bearing rail. On
July 6, 1889 the contract was signed for relaying the
whole road with 50 lb. side-bearing and flat tram rail,
some of which was already available at Long Island City.
The work must have proceeded very rapidly for by
August 27th the rails were in place as far as Richmond
Hill, where the supply gave out. During the week of
Sept. 3, a fresh consignment arrived, and the rails
reached Rockaway Rd. by Sept. 17th. By October the
rails reached the Jamaica village line at Van Wyck Blvd.
and the company respectfully requested of the trustees
permission to lay the second track and to erect poles
125 feet apart along the avenue. Permission was refused
for reasons to be detailed later, and there the track-
laying ended for the time being.

Even more important than the new track was the in-
stallation of the Sprague electric system for the older
Van Depoele system. The chief advantage lay in the
simpler and safer method of current collection. Instead
of a wooden dolly that ran on two wires, and which easily
fell off onto the car roof, a trolley pole with a wheel
revolved on the under side of a single overhead wire
with a return circuit through the tracks. This system,
with small modifications, is the perfected one in use
today.

In early October the stringing of the new single over-
head wire began. On one occasion it became fouled
with a team and wagon and was dragged across the
older double wire, badly burning the lineman. By Oct.
22, the new wire had been strung the entire length of
the line. It was planned to halt all service on Nov. 13,
1889 to permit the linemen to take down the old wires,
but because the new cars ordered failed to arrive, the
work was delayed. Probably about Nov. 22 or 23 the
operation of al! cars was halted, and horse cars were
pressed into service to provide at least some sort of
transit. By Nov. 26 the work was about done, and the
new electric cars were due to open the line in a day
or two.
On Nov. 27 the new Sprague system went into com-

plete operation with new cars. The old Pullman cars
evidently had deteriorated considerably in two years
time for a newspaper article refers to them as "horribly
dilapidated old broken-down cars that people are really
afraid to step into." Probably a good deal of this can

be dismissed as journalistic exaggeration, for well-made
cars in those days didn't fall apart after only two years
service. The new cars, probably all from Lewis & Fowler,
were double-end operated to eliminate the old turn-
tables and had Peckham trucks; the new open cars were
operated from either end instead of from the middle
as formerly.

Further improvements were made at the carbarn.
A new boiler of 150 HP was installed and the old boilers
reset. Twoand a half tons of coalwas then the average
daily consumption. The car house at Woodhaven was
improved and enlarged. The management also pur-
chased an open lot two blocks east of the Woodhaven
carbarn, located on the south side of Jamaica Aye., be-
tween 94th and 95th Sts. It was used as a power sta-
tion until 1894. A bright new globe light was installed
in front of the carbarn. It was further proposed to light
up the entire avenue with electric lights at intervals of
500 feet for the convenience of farmers and wayfarers.
There was some talk of a through 5 cent fare, and an
arrangement with the Fulton St. el whereby excursion
tickets to New York from Jamaica might be issued for
25 cents.

The managers next embarked upon a complete pole
replacement program. The old ones were to be offered
for sale at auction; a bid of 40 cents was refused by
the company. The new poles, some 600 in number,
were painted pea-green beginning Dec. 7, 1889 by a
Cypress Hills contractor, who applied two coats of paint
on each at a cost of 20 cents per pole.

The coming of winter affected the new rolling stock
in the same way as the old, but with much less frequency.
The trolley wire broke on Saturday, Dec. 14th, but the
line was repaired by Sunday morning. The frosty rails
and icy wires arced as brightly as ever.
With the new year 1890 the company sought to stimu-

late an esprit-de-corps amongst its personnel by intro-
ducing a regulation cap of blue with gilt braid on Feb.
22nd. In the spring the company resumed its project
of double tracking the road from Woodhaven to Ja-
maica. It was planned to begin on April 14th. The
first shipment of ties for the new track was received on
May 5, 1890. On May 12th actual construction was be-
gun and the company hoped to finish by July Ist. The
new track was to be placed just south of the old one.
The non-arrival of the contractor delayed matters con-
siderably. Meanwhile the attitude of the Jamaica trus-
tees was rather hostile to granting a second track. The
situation was a peculiar one. The railroad company le-
gally owned Jamaica Aye. in fee and theoretically could
do as it liked. Nevertheless the day of turnpike com-
panies was over by the 90's and the company preferred
not to risk a court test. It therefore requested the vil-
lage authorities for permission in the normal way, but
the village trustees preferred to look beyond the point
at issue—a second track—and to demand a showdown
on who owned Jamaica Aye. The railroad company's
weakness was twofold; it had never sought the written
permission of abutting property owners as required by
the General Railroad Act, and it had never sought per-



13

mission tor a change of motive power. If it could be
established that Jamaica Aye. was all private right-of
way, then such authorizations were unnecessary; if, on
the other hand, the company's title to Jamaica Aye. was
doubtful, then its occupation and railroad operation
were both illegal. The title of the old Jamaica and
Brooklyn Road Co. was uncontested; the doubtful point
was the merger of the turnpike and the horse railroad
in 1880. Legally the turnpike company should have ex-
pired in 1880, the General Plank Road Law of 1847 re-
quiring the permission of the Board of Supervisors for an
extension of life. This the company had never request-
ed nor received. Instead it sought to prolong its life
and privileges by merging with the railroad company
whose corporate life still had years to run.. Legal opin-
ion on the validity of this merger was divided, and all
during the 80's and 90's the turnpike lived under a
cloud, conscious of its doubtful title, yet tenacious of its
tolls and the occupancy of Jamaica Aye. This was the
true reason for the railroad company's humility in pla-
cating the Jamaica trustees.
On May 22, 1890, the contractor began the track

laying and paving at Woodhaven and five days later
had completed a mile. As the new rails crept nearer and
nearer to Jamaica, the whole community wondered how
the trustees would react if the company tried to lay
rail inside the village boundaries. Popular sentiment
was for an injunction to protect the village's authority.
The railroad offered a tactful compromise: the village
should have title to land outside the tracks while the rail-
road should continue to own the roadbed. This was re-
jected as begging the question. By July Ist the com-
pany had reached the Van Wyck toll gate, and laid a
switch to connect the two tracks. On Aug. I I the
company began quietly laying the second track and
proposed to reach 168th St. by Aug. 22nd. The trus-
tees immediately countered by securing an injunction
against the work, alleging that the company had ille-
gally taken title to Imiles of street, and that the
electric road was a public nuisance and dangerous to
life. The company claimed to be the legal successor of
the former company and to have duly inherited the old
rights. The injunction was dismissed by the court, largely
because the peoplewere strongly in favor of the electric
line and the convenience it offered. The larger ques-
tion of who owned Jamaica Aye. was left undecided.
On the afternoon of Aug. 14th the trolley wire for

the new track was put into position. A wagon with a
large revolving drum containing the wire and an ele-
vated platform on four wheels to attach the wire to
the cross-piece took up the greater part of the street.
The wire swayed and flapped around in all directions,
sc much so that the horses had to be driven to the far
side of the avenue to prevent being hooked under the
neck and possibly electrocuted. It rained frequently
the following week, delaying the track-layers but at last
on Sepi. I I, 1890 the new track went into service.
Business on the whole was very good during the year

1890. As early as February each car on the road aver-
aged $17 a day. The conductors and motormen, like
those on the city lines, were largely from the "auld sod"
and on St. Patrick's Day in 1890, the citizens of Jamaica
were somewhat startled to see the cars sporting large

green flags beside the Stars and Stripes. In spring extra
cars were put on to handle the crowds, including a night
car through to Jamaica, leaving East New York at 11:20
P.M. Beginning April 20 double-headers were run be-
tween East New York and Cypress Hills. With the new
double track the headway was improved to 7 mins.,
with the total trip scheduled for 20 mins. This was cer-
tainly somewhat Utopian for those days.

Business continued excellent in May, some cars taking
in $22. Delays were rarer now; once the trolley wire
snapped on May 14, and on Sunday May 18th someone
deliberately caused a short circuit by grounding the
trolley wire on the railroad bridge at the height of the
Sunday traffic. On June I, 1890 the company put two
new open cars on the road, and on Aug. 3rd still an-
other, plus a fourth on Aug. 17th. To lay the dust in
these days before sprinkler cars appeared, the com-
pany had a gang of men sweep the track to prevent a
wake of swirling dust behind passing cars. Traffic this
year reached a peak on Aug. 24, 1890 when more than
5000 persons used the cars all over the route, especially
tc the cemeteries.

The fall timetable was put into effect in September,
increasing the headway to 10 mins. instead of 7. Ac-
cording to company estimates business had increased
nearly 300% in 14 months time. In November, the
company gave orders for five new cars to be built.
Business continuing at a high level in October and No-
vember, the company began to consider the advisa-
bility of running an all-night service with cars every two
hours. With all this prosperity, it comes as a surprise
tc us that broken windows in the closed cars attracted
censure in the newspapers during December.

During Christmas week the wearing of a regulation
uniform was required in addition to the regulation blue
caps.

The winter of 1890-91 proved hard on car operation.
The heavy icing on the wires caused sufficient current
leaks to stop the cars and the company had to substi-
tute horses once again; fortunately, this lasted only one
day! On Jan. 25, 1891 heavy snow, falling all day,
again brought trolley service to a near stand-still. On
Feb. 20, 1891 a sleet storm struck Long Island and
slowed the cars producing intermittent tie-ups here and
there along the line.
With the coming of spring the trolley company bought

further new equipment. As early as Jan. 20th, "some"
new cars were received. Two new open cars were put
on the road and one was being fitted up the week of
April 13, 1891.

In Feb. 1891 the company received permission from
the Board of Railroad Commissioners to continue elec-
tric operations on Jamaica Aye. When the village
authorities had challenged the company's right to sub-
stitute electric cars for horses in 1890, the company
decided tostrengthen its position by applying to Albany.
With this permission in hand, at least one of the legal
weapons of the village trustees against the company
was blunted.

The summer season of 1891 proved to be one of the
most profitable that the company had yet experienced.
As early as Feb. 17th business warranted putting on
twc more cars. On April 19th eleven cars were in serv-



14

ice at once including all the opens, something of a rec-
ord for the company. On July I Ith, a Saturday, traffic
reached 4100. Riding reached a peak in August and
September; the months of July, August & September
netted 260,388 fares, or 26,796 per month, or 2893
per day.
However pleasing this heavy traffic was to the com-

pany, it was somewhat less pleasing to the employees
on the cars. For the second time in the history of the
road, there were labor complaints; some men put in 14
hours, and as early as Feb. 22nd some crews refused
to operate. At that time the normal assignment was
14 hours, for $2! This was not a favorablerate even for
those days, for the Manhattan companies, after the
great strikes of 1886, had fixed 12 hours for $2 as the
New York City standard. The company sought to offset
this ground-swell of dissatisfaction by scheduling the first
employees' picnic in its history on Oct. 21 at Dexter
Park in Cypress Hills. It must have been a lively affair
for thecars ran all night to carry men and their fami'ies.
The fall of 1891 passed almost without incident. One

span wire snapped on Nov. Bth grounding the trolley
wire and the Jamaica Fire Dept. was almost brought
out on the run on Dec. 26th, when one of the trolleys
was seen belching forth clouds of gray smoke. Investi-
gation revealed that the conductor had just kindled a
wood fire which was giving off more smoke than heat.

The company began the year 1892 with further pur-
chases of rolling stock. A new electric snow plow was
put into service early in January. Early in April a new
sprinkler, the company's first, was set to work on the
dusty roadbed. During the week of May 9th two new
trailers appeared on the road to absorb the ever-increas-
ing business. Three additional open cars were received
the week of May 16, 1892. The addition of all these
cars to the rolling stock required further power facilities,
so the company installed in the power plant at Wood-
haven a new Edison dynamo, which gave the plant a
capacity of 250 HP and enabled the company to run
22 cars at once.
The spring season had hardly started this year when

the company experienced its first major, but fortunately
not fatal accident. On Thursday, Mar. 24, 1892, as
Car No. 2 reached Van Wyck Aye., the horses of a
passing wagon took fright, and dashed the wagon into
the side of the closed car, one of the old 1887 Pullmans.
The force of the collision tore out the left side of the
car, and broken glass flew in all directions; 12 passengers
were shaken up, and three were cut by flying glass.

The busy summer season began April 3rd this year,
the day the open cars came out. By May 15th all the
cars were on the road, some averaging $62 a day. On
May 22nd, Sunday, the road carried 7000 persons; busi-
ness was so good that the receipts for the first 18 days
of may were $50 per day in excess of the first 18 days
of May 1891. Total fares for May reached 89,080;
fares were from $600 to $1600 per month higher than
the corresponding months of 1891. On Sunday, July
17th, riding reached a peak of 8000, the highest ever
recorded.

The great prosperity of the company induced it to
attempt an interesting and successful experiment: the
running of special 5 cent fare cars during the morning

and evening rush hours. The management had consid-
ered this possibility in July 1891, but started the service
a year later. In August 1892 the cars ran at 5:30, 6:IS,
6:30 and 6:45 A.M. and from East New York at 6:15,
6:30 A.M. and 6:30, 6:45 and 7 P.M. The riders had
to get up at dawn, but it certainly must have stimulated
business on these early-bird cars. Many riders were
lured away from the LIRR by the low fares. On Monday,
Oct. 17, 1892, the fall timetable came out, giving a
15 mm. headway with two late cars all winter at I I P.M.
and 12:15 A.M.

From the experience of three years in managing the
line, Drexel, Morgan & Co. became more and more
convinced that the Jamaica road was one of possibili-
ties rather than actualities. It was a through, direct
route, but terminated, unfortunately, at East New York.
At that time the great bulk of the traffic passed on to
the Brooklyn ferries, and the banking firm realized that
the Jamaica road would never become the main artery
of travel that they planned until it had a ferry terminus.
They therefore made overtures to the Brooklyn City
R.R. to buy out the Fulton St. line but were refused.
They next negotiated with the Broadway R.R. Here
again they met with a refusal from the management,
but some of the stockholders wavered. Secret negotia-
tions were carried on all during the spring and summer
of 1892; in October the sale was at last confirmed.
Months later it developed that Drexel, Morgan & Co.
had offered the stockholders $290 a share, an advance
of 40 points over the market value, and they jumped
at the chance.

In May of the same year agents of Drexel, Morgan &
Co. bought at foreclosure sale the Brooklyn Bushwick
& Queens Co. Ry. operating the Metropolitan Aye. line.
Thus in six months time, Drexel, Morgan & Co. had ac-
quired two street railway companies with termini at the
Broadway Ferry. Besides the main line on Broadway,
there were four branches of the Broadway R.R.: Reid,
Ralph, and Sumner Ayes., and the Cypress Hills exten-
sion, all of them still horse car lines. In March 1893 the
track along Broadway was relaid in preparation for elec-
tric operation. It was planned to inaugurate the through
electric service between Jamaica and Broadway Ferry
at the earliest possible date.

There was also some discussion of building an exten-
sion through Woodhaven parallel to Jamaica Aye. This
would start at Fulton and Crescent Sts., run along Fulton
to Rockaway Rd., along Rockaway Rd to either 95th or
97th Ayes. and then eastward on those streets. Noth-
ing ever came of the proposal.
While Drexel, Morgan & Co. were busy with these

improvements and plans, the elevated network termi-
nating at East New York was being extended after a
lapse of several years. An elevated structure was put
up from the junction at East New York all along Fulton
and Crescent Sts. to the Cypress Hills Cemetery on Ja-
maica Aye. The first train ran on May 29, 1893. An
extension of the Kings County elevated was built south
down Snediker Aye. parallel to the East New York &
Canarsie R.R. tracks to Pitkin Aye., and then eastward,
opening section by section. This further increased the
status of East NewYork as a busy transit terminal. Much
of the cemetery business that the Jamaica Aye. cars



Top - Electrified horse car, as used on Jamaica Aye. from1894 to 1897 Center - No. 20 on Jamaica Aye. at Parsons Blvd.
about 1899 (Winans) Bottom - No. 192 (new car), sweeper and
electrified horse cars stalled at 160th St. in 1897 or '98 (Winans)



15

had carried was lost to the new elevated line, but the
highly profitable territory through Woodhaven and Ja-
maica was unaffected.
Again the company began the new season of 1893

with heavy purchases of new cars. In April one closed
and nine new opens were delivered by the 15th. By
May 15th, four of the new opens, Nos. 25, 26, 30, 31,
were placed in service. To equip these new opens with
the best motors available, the company invited the
Johnson-Lundell Electric Co. and the Westinghouse Co.
to make trial runs over Jamaica Aye for motor tryouts.
One electric car with two trailers was run three mi.es
in 10 mins. with the Westinghouse equipment and the
company ordered these for its new open cars.
With the coming of fair weather the company added

three cars to the Sunday schedule, running at 10 mm.
intervals. On June I, 1893 Supt. William M. Scott
resigned from the company after 22 years' service. In
his time he had seen the norse cars, the first electrics,
and the standard trolley operation; he was replaced by
an engineer from the Brooklyn City R.R. named Henry
Meyerholz.

In the last week of May, 1893 the company finally
put destination signs on the trolleys. Previously only
the company's name and the communities served had
appeared on the cars.
Stoppages were becoming increasingly rare on the

line. There were few in 1892; in 1893 we read that a
heavy rain storm stalled several cars at intervals on
July 26th; the trolley wire on Dec. 15, 1893 snapped at
the Rockaway railroad crossing at 100th St.; other thanthese two halts service was regular and uniform the
whole year—quite a change from the old days of 1887-
1888.
Traffic remained excellent during 1893. The com-

pany found it worthwhile to run late cars at 11:15 and
11:35 P.M. to accommodate those returning from the-
atres in Brooklyn. In the fall the company took the un-
usual step of transferring the modern trucks and motors
from under the 1893 opens, and putting them under the
closed cars. This raised the cars a little and gave them
much greater speed than formerly. In later years this
was to become standard practice. To forestall winter
troubles, linemen were sent out in early November to
replace and strengthen many of the old span wires in
Jamaica. The track circuit was greatly improved at the
same time by extensive new bonding through Jamaica.

The second serious accident on the line occurred on
Nov. 28, 1893; a trolley crashed the gates at the Rich-
mond Hill LIRR crossing just as the 5:20 express was
passing over the crossing. The front of the trolley was
completely demolished while many of the windows in
the railroad coach were shattered. The motorman, find-
ing the car uncontrollable, jumped just in time to save
himself. No one in the car was injured.
The rising strength of the labor movement, and the

increasing dissatisfaction with the long hours imposed
by the companies found increasing expression during
1893. Early in May the Knights of Labor, the pioneer
labor organization that engineered the great 1886
stoppages on the Third Aye. R.R. and the Dry Dock
in Manhattan, succeeded in gaining for the men of the
Broadway R.R. a 12 hour day and time for meals. Since

the Jamaica line was now operated by the same man-
agement as the Broadway R.R., the Jamaica men nat-
urally became restive. Supt. Scott "laid off': the po-
tential agitators while others resigned before receiving
notice. At that time no respite was allowed for meals.
The company was strict, too, in operational details;
several men were discharged for not flagging the Rich-
mond Hill crossing.
The dissatisfaction latent amongst the men resulted

in July in the enrollment of many engineers and con-
ductors in Local 50,704 of the Knights of Labor, com-
prising the operating employees of the Broadway, Reid,
Sumner, Ralph, and Cypress Hills lines. This time the
company wisely sought to arbitrate a settlement. The
demands of the men were modest: a 12 hour day in-
cluding one hour for lunch and one hour for changing,
clerical work, etc., at the beginning and end of the day.
Before the situation could be ironed out, unification of
all the trolley lines was completed, making the issue a
county-wide affair, and one destined to produce bloody
results a year later.
All during 1893 negotiations had been quietly pro-

ceeding amongst bankers and railroad men on a scale
hitherto undreamed-of, with the object of unifying all
the elevated and surface railroads of Brooklyn and
Queens into one great corporation. By the fall of 1893
these plans had crystallized, and the first legal steps
were initiated to realize the ultimate goal. The com-
plete organizational blueprint envisioned by the plan-
ners does not concern us here, but as much of it as
affected Jamaica Aye. is part of our story.
On Nov. 24, 1893 the Brooklyn, Queens County &

Suburban Railroad was incorporated as a merger of
the three Drexel, Morgan & Co. properties: the Jamaica
& Brooklyn Road Co. (Jamaica Aye.); the Broadway
Ferry & Metropolitan Aye. R.R. (Metropolitan Aye.); and
the Broadway R.R. (Broadway, Sumner, Reid, Ralph, Cy-
press Hills Ext.). The next step was to lease the Brook-
lyn, Queens Co. & Suburban to the Brooklyn City R.R.
(then operating on Fulton and many other streets). Mean-
while the Brooklyn Heights R.R. f*ad already leased all
the lines of the Brooklyn City. In 1893 the Long Island
Traction Co. had been incorporated as a holding com-
pany for all the elevated and surface railroads of Brook-
lyn and Queens; to its operating subsidiary, the Brook-
lyn Rapid Transit, organized 1896, was ultimately as-
signed the equipment and management of a colossal
network of lines, once the property of 84 separate com-
panies. In this gigantic organization, the Jamaica Aye.
line shrank in importance to one of many suburban sur-
face lines.
It might be appropriate at this point before we pass

on into the era of BRT operation to sum up the develop-
ments on the turnpike in the years 1887-1893. As early
as August 1887 the leading property owners along the
road met at a hotel to explore the possibilities of hav-
ing the toll gates abolished, largely on the ground of
neglect. Apparently word of this protest meeting reached
the ears of Aaron DeGrauw, president of the plank
road and repairs were made here and there in August
1887.
On March 9, 1888 at a meeting of the Jamaica Board

of Trustees, it was voted to secure the legal advice of



Top - Electrified horse cars stalled in snow at Parsons Blvd.
about 1897 or '98 Center - National Guard at East New York
car barns during great strike of 1895 Bottom - BRT express
car no. S3 turning into 160th St. in 1899



16

the best lawyer of that day on just what right the Ja-
maica and Brooklyn road based its collection of tolls
and maintained toll gates, and secondly, how much juris-
diction the village had over the road. The jurist gave it
as his opinion that the merger of the plank road and the
railroad in 1880 was illegal because it was a device to
circumvent the natural expiration of the plank road's
charter; also that the railroad company's charter gave
it no power whatever to prolong the life of any plank
road. As to the right to collect tolls, the jurist admitted
Ihe legality of a toll in exchange for maintenance, and
the right therefore to erect toll gates, but he pointed
out that the town had full authority over sidewalk and
cross walk.
Early in 1890 when the company applied to the Board

of Railroad Commissioners to legalize their operation of
electric cars, the trustees hoped that the company might
be defeated. However the board expressly denied
its competence to decideon turnpikequestions, but gave
its blessing to the electric operation.
Further improvements in the paving of the Jamaica

Plank Rd. resulted in quadrupling the tolls on the road,
so much so that traffic on Myrtle Aye. became virtually
"nominal"

In March 1891 all three toll houses and gates were
brightened up with a coat of yellow paint. More sur-
prising was the replacement of many of the rotted planks
with new ones in July 1892. Sometime during 1893 or
1894 the toll house at Essex St. burned, and was never
replaced.

Early in 1893 the Corporation Counsel of the City of
Brooklyn offered to the company a sum of $25,000 for
that portion of the Jamaica Plank Rd. within the city
limits of Brooklyn. The company asserted the road was
worth $200,000, and indignantly rejected the offer. The
Corp. Counsel countered with a threat of condemnation
proceedings unless his offer were accepted by May 3,

1893. On May 9 Governor Flower signed at Albany
Chap. 526 of the Laws of 1893, authorizing Brooklyn to
acquire the plank road. In June the Corp. Counsel was
ready to apply to the Supreme Court for a condemna-
tion commission of three members to act on the dispute.
The property owners along the road were in favor of
the city's offer because of the poor condition of the
road.

By October the road must have fallen far out of re-
pair, judging from this quotation from the papers:

"Property owners on the line of Jamaica Aye. have
during the past year made numerous complaints
against the abominable condition of that thorough-
fare. That portion of the street which lies within
the city limits is in a particularly bad state and at
times is actually impassable in some places. Be-
ginning at Alabama Aye. the road introduces itself
to those who have occasion to use it, under cir-
cumstances which serve to prepare them for that
which is to be encountered later on. The wide
crossing formed by the intersection of Jamaica,
East New York Ayes. Fulton St. and Broadway is a
veritable morass in rainy weather and the most
agile of pedestrians will find it almost impossible
to keep dry-shod in crossing from sidewalk to side-
walk. Further up Jamaica Aye. opposite the Broad-
way car stables the same condition of affairs pre-
vails, and from that spot until the Cypress Hills
cemetery is reached, the center of the roadway is
a succession of miniature bayous that render driv-
ing anything but pleasurable."

Early in December the only other surviving turnpike,
the Hempstead and Jamaica, was sold for $20,000.
Jamaica Aye. was now the sole survivor of its kind. Be-
fore any further progress could be made, both turn-
pike and railroad were absorbed into the Brooklyn trac-
tion system.

FIRST YEARS OF BROOKLYN, QUEENS COUNTY & SUBURBAN MANAGEMENT
The Brooklyn, Queens County & Suburban R.R. Co.,

newly formed to manage the Queens and Broadway R.R.
properties, took formal possession in January of 1894.
At that time Jamaica Aye. was the only electric road,
and immediate steps were taken to electrify the others
one by one during the year. Broadway was rapidly near-
ing completion, and the managers fondly hoped to be-
gin the through service to Jamaica in the springtime.
On March 13, 1894 company representatives came

through Jamaica calling in all the old 5 cent tickets is-
sued by the Jamaica & Brooklyn Road Co. On Satur-
day, April 21, 1894 the active management of the Ja-
maica Aye. line passed to the new owners, and the very
next day the fares were reduced as follows:

Adults Children

Of course this move was highly popular with the Jamaica
riding public. For some reason, the fares were lowered
■for just one day, Sunday, May 13 to 5 cents for the
through ride.

Now that all the lines were unified, some experimental
trips were run during spring. On Sunday, June 17th,
several Fulton St. cars ran through to Jamaica, but this
was not repeated. On July 31, 1894 the first electric
cars began running on Broadway between Broadway
Ferry and East New York, and on Aug. 22nd three new
open cars from Broadway were run through to Jamaica
carrying officials and a band of music as a sort of prel-
ude to regular service later.

Other changes were made this season in the physical
plant. In mid-January it was decided to close the Wood-
haven power plant at 94-95th Sts. and draw all the
power from Ridgewood. Ten months later in Novem-
ber, 1894, everything was moved out of Woodhaven,
car shops and storage depot, and the Broadway R.R.
stables at East New York handled Jamaica Aye. move-
ments thereafter. It might be mentioned in passing
that the abandoned depot became, by 1896, a rendez-
vous for tramps who cooked in the car pits and tore up
the floor for fuel. The authorities, to get rid of this
nuisance, finally tore down the abandoned shell in
June 1897.

lamaica to Richmond Hill,
lamaica to East New York . .
Richmond Hill to E. New York

3c
8c
5c

Ic
4c
3c







The electrical condition of the Jamaica tracks was not
up to the usual Brooklyn standard, and complaints hav-
ing been made frequently against the current leaks
and sparking, considerable bonding was done all along
the road during October.
Most welcome of all to the riding public was the in-

troduction of new closed cars on Oct. 18th, the day the
opens were withdrawn. These were only electrified horse
cars of the "400" series formerly operated on the
Broadway R.R., and though smaller, they were cleaner
and less noisy than the old Jamaica cars. The old wood-
en trolley poles on the roof had caused many delays
in the past, so iron poles were substituted.

Two days after Christmas, Dec. 27th, a heavy snow-
fall nearly immobilized the line but gangs of men along
with a large snow plow and three-car trains at frequent
intervals kept the line open.

The months of Januaryand February 1895 were des-
tined to become the most long-remembered in the his-
tory of the Brooklyn surface system, and to attract na-
tion-wide attention. Brooklyn was about to become the
scene of one of the two or three great 19th century laborstruggles between capital and labor in the railroad
field. The Knights of Labor, the pioneer union organi-
zation of the day, had steadily gained ground during
the early 90's, and had petitioned the Brooklyn City
R.R. and others for a raise in pay from $2 to $2.25 for
a 10-hour day, plus time off for lunch. This the com-
panies refused. The introduction of electricity aggra-
vated the situation, for the car crews operated faster,
made more runs, and shouldered increased responsibility
in managing the larger, heavier cars. Resentment grew
to such a pitch that preparations for a general strike
were made in January 1895. The exact date was a guard-
ed secret. Early Monday morning, January 14th, the
union struck, forbidding its men to take out any cars
from any depot in Brooklyn. The order was obeyed by
the rank and file and on that dayonly 17 cars operated
in the whole city. The companies, under the leadership
of Pres. Danie! Lewis of the Brooklyn City and Pres.
Norton of the Atlantic Aye. R.R. Co., refused to con-
cede anything to the strikers. They appealed to the
police department for protection, and in the well-policed
downtown precincts, succeeded in running a few cars
under guard. The force, however, numbered only 1700
and the strikers about 5000, so that no real protection
could be assured to the railroads. Company men were
sent to JerseyCity and Philadelphia torecruit new oper-
ators and hundreds of green crews were signed up.
These men had little training and were jeered and as-
saulted by the mobs that lined the streets. The strikers
cut the trolley wires, dumped obstructions on the track,
stoned the cars, and dragged off the motormen. The
situation became so grave that the State Militia was
called out, and detachments of armed soldiers took up
their posts at seven car barns throughout Brooklyn.
The worst violence was at East New York depot.

Something went wrong with the soldiers' food supply on
the 19th (Wednesday) and the men went all day witnout
food. The strikers in the streets and saloons along At-
lantic and Alabama Ayes. taunted the soldiers, already
irritated from lack of food, and when several bold mob-
sters attempted to wrest the soldiers' guns from them,

the commanding officer ordered a bayonetcharge. The
crowd, talcen by surprise, drew back but several were
injured; the sight of the men infuriated the
mob which gradually grew to 2000. Two other bayonet
charges and drawn guns succeeded at last in partially
clearing the streets and the late arrival of food pacified
the ugly mood of the soldiers.
The next day, Thursday the 21st, four cannon were set

up in Jamaica Avenue in front of the carbarn. The
strikers kept their distance, and in the lull, the depot
men attempted to run a few cars on Ralph, Reid, and
Sumner Ayes., but later gave it up. On Friday, Broad-
way and Sumner began running fairly regularly, and the
center of mob violence gradually shifted elsewhere.

There were many violent riots and assaults all over
the city almost unchecked by the police. A few more car
lines reopened each day, but the company pulled back
all cars at nightfall. On the fifteenth day of the strike,
January 28th, the strike leaders, aware of the gradual
weakening of their.forces, offered to return at $2 a day
provided time was given for lunch, etc. Pres. Lewis re-
fused to yield an inch, and under his leadership, the
other roads also remained adamant. Very gradually the
strike petered out, but scattered violence continued until
late February. The companies refused to re-hire the
men who had gone out, and that often provoked fresh
incidents. On Feb. 4 the Legislature at Albany ap-
pointed a special Board of Arbitration & Mediation to
inquire into the strike and the issues behind it. On Feb.
I the militia was disbanded and thereafter the police
enforced law and order. Hundreds of mobsters were
arraigned in court and this stern handling tended to dis-
courage further violence.
The great strike hit the Jamaica line hard. From Sun-

day night, Jan. 13 to Jan. 28th no cars ran at all. When
the East New York inspector attempted to put a car on
the road on the 15th, he was attacked and stoned by
the strikers. On Jan. 24 a car attempted to reach Ja-
maica but found the wires cut at Logan St., and had to
retreat. The Jamaica people suffered far worse than
those in Brooklyn. In the city people could walk along
well-paved roads; in Jamaica there was only the plank
road to the city in its usual state of disrepair. The LIRR
was the only transit available all during the two-weeks'
stoppage.
When the cars rolled once more, only two of the old

operators appeared; the rest were new men. On Feb.
2 cars finally began running on normal schedule. When
heavy snows appeared on Feb. 7th and Bth, the first
subtle change in company attitude showed itself: hot
coffee was kept boiling at the depot and warm woolen
gloves were issued to the motormen.

The last outbreak of violence on Jamaica Avenue oc-
curred Feb. 15th. Someone placed a large torpedo on
the tracks at Dexter Park, and as the wheels passed over
it, it exploded with such force that passengers and crew
were thrown to the floor. The motorman was blown from
the platform, and the car rushed on at full speed until
the pole luckily came off and slowed it down. Just the
evening before a band of former employees, denied
reinstatement at East New York depot, ambushed a
Jamaica car and stoned it. The men then attacked sev-
eral other cars until subdued by a force of 75 police-

17



18

men. Armed guards escorted the cars for a day there-
after. On March 13th the union placed several lines,
Jamaica Avenue among them, under boycott, but no ill
effects ■followed.
With the coming of spring, the company began run-

ning the big Broadway "100" series cars on Jamaica
Aye. for the first time; all the older cars had been dam-
aged either by the strikers or the green motormen.
About June 8, 1895 the through operation to the Broad-
way Ferry opened at last after two years of planning.
Riding immediately increased, so much so that on one
Sunday trip a conductor rang up 240 fares on one car.
The through trip took 55 mins. and the fare was 10
cents. The company further arranged on Aug. 18th to
connect with the Canarsie RR steam trains at the How-
ard. House; the through fare to Canarsie was only 10
cents and included admission to the park. This arrange-
ment proved popular and profitable.
A more unusual bid, for the summer excursion traffic

was the running of picnic cars, glittering with hundreds
of varicolored lights and decorated with flags and bunt-
ing. By October these cars ran nightly, sometimes two
or three together and attracted considerable notice.
All in all, 1895 passed with little trouble except for

the great strike. On July 13th a tornado tore down half
a mile of wire in Cypress Hills but it was speedily re-
placed. A green motorman during February forgot to
stop at the end of the line at 168th St. but the curb-
stone across the street solved his problem. On a busy
Sunday in September (22nd) the power house failed for
several hours, stalling all cars but emergency repairs
straightened out matters.
With the year 1896 the Jamaica Aye. service reached

a peak of popularity and variety. The Brooklyn City
R.R., to stimulate charter car service, had constructed
three luxurious and beautiful parlor cars, furnished inside
like an elegant drawing room of the 90's, complete with
pile carpets, drapes, inlaid tables, chandeliers, etc. Each
was named after one of the principal theatres, the "Am-
phion", the "Columbia", and the "Montauk". For $25
anyone could charter one of these cars and ride all day.
On Feb. 21, 1896 the first of these handsome trolleys,
the "Amphion", visited Jamaica, bearing the members
of the Women's Health Protective Association. On
May 26 the palace car "Columbia" toured the entire
Queens trackage of the BRT, carrying road officials,
directors, and guests. Meanwhile, the trolley picnic cars
continued running on summer evenings and late in the
fall, for the residents of Jamaica complained to the police
about the shouting and singing during the early morning
hours.
The second unusual service that started this year was

the trolley express. In mid-April the Brooklyn City RR
closed a contract with the National Express Co. to carry
freight in special express trolleys on certain designated
routes, one of which was Jamaica Aye. A month later
the express company leased a store on the corner of
Jamaica Aye. and Union Hall St. as a baggage office.
On Wednesday, June 10th, the National Express ran
its first car through to Jamaica, and on June 15th opened
regular service with four trips each way daily; a wagon
was maintained at the Jamaica office to collect and
deliver packages inside the village. The car scheduled

eastbound service at 6:20, 10:51, 4:51, and 8:11 and
westbound trips at 6:40, 11:00, 5:00, and 8:15. Some
three weeks later the residents of Jamaica were star-
tled when the quiet of Thursday evening, July 9th, was
rudely shattered about 10 P.M. by the loud crash of
Trolley Express No. 6 which suddenly derailed and over-
turned while rolling along at good speed. Motorman
and conductor escaped unhurt, but the baggage man
sustained a double fracture of the right leg. Within
four months time the express business warranted put-
ting on still another car to Jamaica, making five trips
each way daily.

To stimulate the express business as much as possible,
the Brooklyn City R.R. invited the owners, supervisors
and managers of all the leading retail stores in the down-
town area for an excursion aboard the palace car "Mon-
tauk" to familiarize them with the extensive territory
covered by the cars, and the speed and ease of delivery
of packages. Beginning at Borough Hall, they ran toFlushing and returned via Ridgewood to Jamaica, thence
west to Nostrand Aye., to Flatlands, Bath Beach, and
Bensonhurst, returning through Bay Ridge. Those were
the days of real trolley outings!
The trolley management worked just as hard to ac-

commodate the regular riding public as it did to please
its special clientele. Books of tickets were decided upon
early in March, good on all lines, as a convenience to
avoid digging for elusive nickels. In November these
little pocket-size books of 20 tickets each appeared, good
on all Brooklyn City and Brooklyn Queens County &
Suburban lines.

The importance of Jamaica Avenue as a trolley ter-
minal was further enhanced in the summer of 1896 bythe opening of the Long Island Electric Ry. through
to Queens Village and Far Rockaway. Between 160th
and 168th Sts. the Long Island Electric cars ran on Ja-
maica Aye., making transfer easy and convenient. It
also made possible the running of special excursion and
parlor car trips by the BRT to Far Rockaway, a facility
occasionally used between 1896 and 1900.

The very heavy riding of the last few seasons along
Jamaica Avenue was rapidly wearing out the old rail
laid in 1889-1890. The rail joints were cupped and
the bonding in especially dangerous condition. Many
horses were shocked and thrown to the ground by touch-
ing the rail, or by closing the gap between rails with
their iron horse-shoes. Derailments reached epidemic
proportions early in July, when four cars derailed on
July, 2, 3, 4, and 9, 1896. In August more farmers com-
plained of the injuries done their horses by the leaky
tracks and apparently some motormen used this current
leakage to shock farmers, who blocked the line, off the
tracks. In mid-September the company, under peremp-
tory orders, repaired part of the tracks through the vil-
lage. The newspapers continued to comment on the
shower of sparks that rose from the tracks during frosty
weather on the passage of each car. At last in Novem-
ber, thorough replacements were made of the bonding,
the span wires, and the trolley wire, and the company
announced plans to replace the track and ties in the
Spring of 1897.
The two biggest events on Jamaica Aye. for the year

1897 were the laying of new T rails and the final aboli-



Top - El cars on Jamaica Aye. at 120th St.Center - El train at Grant Aye. Note fender for street opera-
tion (W. Sherwood) Bottom -El cars on ramp at Nichols Aye.
on June 4, 1904 (Edward B. Watson)



19

tion of the toll gates on the turnpike. The company, as
it had promised the year before, set to work in April
at East New York ripping up the pavement, and began
laying T rail. The local residents promptly complained
about the inconvenience to business and even addressed
a protest to the city about the T rails. The company
went ahead anyway and passed into Queens County
by May 25th. The East New York home owners went .to
court to secure a permanent injunction against the T
rails, but the company escorted the judge and the high-
way commissioners over its new T rails in Flushing to
demonstrate their suitability and lack of opposition to
ihe passage of farm wagons. The justice reserved de-
cision.

Meanwhile the new rails reached Woodhaven Aye.
by June 15th and the company applied to the Jamaica
Board of Trustees for permission to lay the new rails in-
side the village limits. The trustees at their Julymeeting
authorized the T rail, but at the same time the company
received the disappointing news that the City of Brook-
lyn had outlawed such rails. That meant that bracks had
to be laid all over again between Alabama Aye. and
Eldert's Lane.

During mid-July the company unloaded great piles
of new rail in Jamaica. It was just in time, too, for com-
plaints against the old leaky "rail mounted weekly. The
sparking frightened passengers, and horses were being
shocked frequently. As late as Oct. 2nd a horse had his
knee-cap burnt off when it struck the rail, while two
weeks before, two horses were so severely shocked that
one had to be shot, and the other was paralyzed. Inci-
dents like this were the worst possible publicity for the
company, and canceled out the good will the company
had won with its good service.
During August 1897 the company relaid the secHon

inside Brooklyn with new grooved rail, and the city fol-
lowed up the work with the first asphalt paving ever laid
on Jamaica Aye. On Sept. 28th a gang of 250 men be-
gan laying the new T rail eastward from the Brooklyn
City line. By Oct. 5 the track gang had reached Clar-
enceville. The tearing up of the street and the shifting of
trolleys from track to track during construction was very
hard on travellers and commuters. The temporary strap
rail often loosened and derailed a car; other times it
became necessary for passengers to change three or
four times on one trip, so that the travel between East
New York and Jamaica lengthened to an hour and a
half. The newspapers commented very favorably, how-
ever, on the smooth riding qualities of the new T rail,
and looked forward toits completion.

By mid-October, haFf a mile of the second track was
already laid, and by the 13th had reached Richmond
Hill crossing. Just behind the track-layers came the pav-
ers. From the Brooklyn line at Eldert's Lane to Van Wyck
Blvd., the new pavement was of vitrified brick on a con-
crete foundation; inside Jamaica village the street was
to be asphalted.
When the track layers and pavers peached Jamaica,

it was found that the old grade was too high and the
street too narrow. The new car tracks were therefore
laid six inches lower than the old, and moved several
inches south to bring them into the center of the street.
A survey by the County Engineer resulted in a widening

of the street by three feet, necessitating the setting back
of telephone, telegraph, and trolleypoles. By the week of
Nov. 8, 1897 the work of laying the T rails was about
completed and work was progressing on the grading and
curbing to keep ahead of the concrete workers and as-
phalt dressers. All the old trolley poles were gradually
replaced with new iron ones during the next few months.
When the company, during the course of its track

laying, laid a switch into 160th St. (southwest quadrant)
to accommodate excursion, express, and parlor cars to
Far Rockaway, the Jamaica Board of Trustees got an
injunction against the action. The company was led to
lay the switch because the existing L. I. Electric Ry.
curve had too sharp a radius to accommodate the.Brook-
lyn cars, so that it took half an hour to ease around the
corner; furthermore, it involved changing ends and pole.
To make an easy curve, the company had encroached on
the 'sidewalk, and this is what had aroused opposition.
The company relaid the curve with a slightly sharper
radius and this eliminated the objection.
At Christmas time 1897, the entire track work between

East New York and Jamaicawas completed at last and
made a very favorable impression on everyone.
The closing of the old turnpike was the result of lengthy

negotiations consummated in July 1897. When the own-
ership of the road passed to the Brooklyn/QueensCo. &
Suburban in 1894, the new owners paid very little atten-
tion to the condition of the roadbed. The $5000 in an-
nual tolls were collected and that was all. By the sum-
mer of 1895 editorials like the following appeared in the
paper:

"Jamaica Aye., though, is the prize street of the lot.
It used to have a nice clay roadbed long ago, but
it hasn't any roadbed at all now. The colossal nerve
displayed by the Jamaica and Brooklyn Road Co.,
the owners of the erstwhile road, in charging toll
for the privilege of driving over the ruts and gullies
is something to be; admired. Sometime ago the
legislature authorized the condemnation of the Ja-
maica Plank Rd. preliminary to the purchase of the
same by the city. Twenty-sixth warders have been
condemning the JamaicaPlank Rd. for the past five
years, and that too in terms more vigorous than
polite. Jamaica Aye., in its present condition, is
adaptable only to farming purposes. It should be
plowed up and planted with potatoes. The Jamaica
Aye. toll gate should be abolished without any more
monkey business."

The Commissioners of Highways, who had inherited
the legal duty of turnpike supervision, notified the Brook-
lyn, Queens Co. & Suburban RR that their inspection had
disclosed holes, loose stones, and weeds and that they
would order the toll gates thrown open unless something
was done "forthwith".

In April 1896 Pres. Rossiter of the BRT came to an
agreement with the village of Jamaica, whereby the rail-
road agreed to surrender to the village authorities all
itf right and interest in thehighway and its right to main-
tain toll gates, and agree to tear down such gates within
30 days, provided the town agreed to the right of the
railroad to maintain and operate forever its railroad to
the exclusion of all others. The railroad company further
agreed to pave the track area with the same material as



Top - East New York yards, east side Nov. 28, 1905
Bottom - West side of yards on same date



20

the rest of the road and repave when so directed.
By the time the wording of the agreement was worked

out in July 1897 a very different document emerged.
Since the Jamaica village authorities faced the loss of
all their powers on Dec. 31, 1897 by the absorption of
Jamaica into New York City, it is possible that they no
longer felt as responsible and as accountable for their
actions as of old. So favorable were the terms that the
railroad company feared to let the agreement become
known, and did not file it with the county register until
1903, when a new controversy brought it to light. At any
rate, the old toll gates were at last closed after 88 years
and JamaicaAvenue became a county road. This agree-
ment made possible tlie paving of Jamaica Aye.-from
end to end for the first time, after the track laying was
completed. The avenue was now a model road, one of
the best paved in Queens County.
With the laying of the new track and a systematized

schedule,, the Jamaica Aye. trolley operation became
routine. It is possible for the first time to summarize the
next six years of operation 1898-1903 in short order.

In the last days of December 1897 the Brooklyn Rapid
Transit changed the color of its cars from bottle green
to red and cream, a paint scheme that lasted with very
slight modifications for the next 50 years. In addition
new platform lights, wider platforms, and new signs ap-
peared on the cars. On "suburban" lines like the Broad-
way-Jamaica route, red lanterns were carried on the rear
dash at night to lessen collisions. In November of 1898
new cars were placed on the Broadway-Jamaica line. In
February 1899 the wooden block bearing four destina-
tions and revolving as needed was made the standard
sign on the platform just above the motorman's head;
this eliminated the iron dashboard signs; at night the
colored signs of the deck roof indicated routes.
A few changes were made from time to time in oper-

ations on the avenue. A short strike delayed cars the
week of Jan. 15-22, 1899, but police were prompt to
prevent a recurrence of the violence of 1895. In a few
days time the movement died out and thing? returned
to normal.

In October 1899 the BRT adopted a policy of stimu-
lating long haul riding on the els. and using the trolleys
for feeders only as far as possible. A whole series of
transferpoints was established so that theaverage trolley
passenger could transfer free to the first rapid transit
line he crossed. In pursuance of this policy, Jamaica Aye.
cars were stopped at East New York and passengers re-
ceived free transfers to either the Fulton or Broadway
els. No free transfers were issued to any other surface
line at East New York. Apparently this plan did notwork
out as well as planned for within six months it was modi-
fied. On May 29, 1900 the privilege of free transfer at
East New York to all other surface lines was restored,
while retaining the el transfer privilege.
Another important change was the construction of a

loop for trolleys at Van Sinderin Aye. and Broadway un-
der the elevated structure. A substantial brick waiting
room was built and nxet to it, stairways to the el plat-
form overhead. Into the loop were operated the Broad-
way, Fulton St., Jamaica Aye. and Cypress Hills cars
beginning August 8, 1900. The handling of the el trains

overhead was complicated and provoked newspaper criti-
cism.
To please the commuters on Jamaica Aye. during the

rush hour, the BRT in December 1900 inaugurated a daily
express trolley service between 7 and 9 AM and 5 and
7:30 PM. These cars made only two stops between Rich-
mond Hill crossing and East New York. To cover the
service between East New York and Richmond Hill, a
tripper service was operated. These express cars were
fitted up with patent air brakes during Jan. 1901. The
express trolley service proved highly popular, so much
so that another stop was secured by a petition signed
by 220 commuters. The slow increase of population con-
stantly increased trolley riding along the avenue. In
April 1900 every other car on Jamaica Aye. was a trip-
per to Richmond Hill, thus relieving the crowding on
the through Jamaica cars. A free transfer between the
tripper and the through car was permitted at Richmond
Hill crossing.
By October 1902 the papers were clamoring for still

more cars, during rush hours especially, pointing out that
at times as many,as 300 passengers crowded the loop
waiting for cars that ran only on a 5 and 10 minute
headway.

" The importance of Jamaica as a trolley terminus wasagain enhanced In December 1899 with the opening ofthe New York & North Shore Railway's line to Flushingat 160th St. and Jamaica Aye. This particular intersec-
tion now permitted passengers to travel in any direction
by trolley for distances of from six to 20 miles.
The regulation of the busy Jamaica line was no easy

problem because of the large number of cars in service.
When an inspector on a surprise visit in August discov-
ered motormen 6 to 8 mins. late, he suspended them for
three days. All during 1901 and 1902 the BRT made
efforts to buy out the L. I. Electric Ry. to Queens and
Far Rockaway, and the Rockaway Electric Ry. (never
built) to Rockaway Beach as extensions of the Jamaica
line. When the L. I. Electric refused a sum said to be
eight million for its road, the BRT reluctantly accepted
defeat.
One of the most commendable features of the BRT

management was its ability to keep the cars running
and eliminate tie-ups. After 1895 there was scarcely
one break-down even in the depth of winter. Floods,
snow and ice might attack the road, but an army of
sweepers, plows, and men always triumphed. The sole
criticism anyone could justly level these days against
the BRT was the perennial traction headache of all
companies in the Golden Age of Trolleys—flat wheels!
There were so many cars on the system that it was
probably impossible for the shops to grind wheels fast
enough to keep abreast of the normal wear and tear.
In March 1903, the Board of Health of Brooklyn noti-
fied the BRT to "cease and desist" from running flat
wheels and sent out inspectors to hunt down the culprits.
These bloodhounds, or perhaps we should say, wheel-
hounds, ferreted out 35 offending cars and had them
hauled into the shops. With the gradual disappearance
of iron wheels in the I9oo's, the flat v/heel difficulty
vanished.



Top - Looking east from 116th St. about 1906 (BRT no. 3995)
Center- Jamaica and Myrtle Ayes. in 1906 (no. 8605 on left,
no. 1860 on right) Bottom - Convertible no. 3746 at 160th
St. about 1908 (L.I. Electric car at right)



21

EL CARS ON JAMAICA AVENUE

Of the thousands of people that daily walk along or
cross Jamaica Avenue in the course of travel or busi-
ness, few are aware that regular elevated trains once
rumbled along the surface for a short time during the
year 1903. Though this operation was a year or more
in the planning stage and marked a response on the part
of the management to an aggravated transit situation,
its whole existence was overshadowed by considerable
adverse publicity, and acrimonious controversy, which
resulted in the untimely withdrawal of such elevated
operation and a return to the traditional surface car
service.

This unusual operation was not a sudden decision
of the BRT by any means. The statistical and oper-
ational divisions of the corporation had noted with in-
terest and approval the rapid transition of the Jamaica
Avenue trolley line from a local country feeder service
to a near rapid transit line. In the period 1897-1901
riding became so heavy that it occurred to the BRT
operating officials that the saturation point was not
far off as far as trolleys were concerned. They there-
fore conceived the idea of building an incline at Cres-
cent St. and Jamaica Aye. to permit the elevated cars
to switch onto the trolley tracks and then run to Jamaica.
Unusual as the idea seems to us today there were sev-
eral successful precedents in Brooklyn. Elevated cars
operated along Gravesend Aye. on the Culver line,
on the West End (New Utrecht Aye.) and on the Sea
Beach route, to Coney Island. When the idea was sug-
gested to the Jamaica residents they were pleased at
the prospect of a through, no-change, single-fare ride
to the ferries.
No opposition being expressed, the company was

encouraged tc secure on June 17, 1901, a 30-day option
on the property at the southeast corner of Jamaica
Aye. and Crescent St. for the construction of a con-
crete incline to connect the elevated tracks to the
surface. One day before the options were due to ex-
pire, the property owners were notified of the company's
intention to buy. Construction on the incline began in
November 1901 and was expected to take three to four
months. Freezing weather, beginning in Christmas week
1901, temporarily halted the worJc on the incline. By
that trnie cinder ballast was already being laid on top
of the structure and only the iron work necessary to
connect the concrete with the existing elevated struc-
ture was still to be installed. It was expected that the
finishing touches would be added in April. In March
1901 the needed iron was expected at any time and
some idea of how the cars were to be run was formu-
lated. The BRT planned to try out a combined trolley
and el service on the avenue at first, and to abandon the
Cypress Hills el station. Late in March granite founda-
tions for the iron columns were set in place and the
brickwork at the Jamaica Aye. end was being laid. In
April the work was completed; no trains could run
immediately because the LIRR bridge at 100th St. was
not high enough to permit el cars to pass underneath.
This adjustment was completed during the first week
of October 1902. Early in November the devil strip

between the Jamaica Aye. track at the point where
the incline fed in was widened to allow room for pass-
ing el cars on the new curve.
On May 20, 1903 the first experimental three-car

train was run over the new incline to the amazement
and complete surprise of the local residents. On Satur-
day, May 30, regular service was inaugurated to Ja-
maica with cars 450, 3208 and 483. The cars pulled up
their third-rail shoes and put up their trolley poles at
Etna and Crescent Sts. Three cars made up each train,
two motors and an open trailer in between.
Many new arrangements had to be made to operate

the elevated .cars properly. Flagmen were placed on
duty at the principal crossings with the heaviest traffic
in Woodhaven and Richmond Hill. Metal signs had to
be hung on the trolley wires Ko notify people where the
stops were, for the el cars did not stop at each corner
like the trolleys. Air whistles were used to warn car-
riages of the car's approach. The new el service sched-
ule was unusually good: every six minutes during the
morning rush hour; every eight minutes during the mid-
dle of the day; every five minutes during the evening
rush hour; every 10 minutes after 8 P.M. and every
half hour after midnight. Between Crescent St. and
Jamaica there were 13 regular stops and 6 signal stops
as follows:

1. Foot of incline
2. Eldert's Lane
3. 80th St. (Shaw Aye.)
4. 87th St. (Signal stop) (Benedict Aye.)
5. Woodhaven Aye.
6. 97th St. (Napier. Aye.)
7. 102nd St. (Union PI.)
8. 108th St. (Guion PI.)
9. 113th St. (Maple St.)
IC. I 18th St. (Signal stop) (Johnson Aye.)I I. 123rd St. (Signal stop) (Vine St.)
12. 130th St. High Bridge, LIRR crossing
13. Van Wyck Aye.
14. 144th Place (Signal stop) (Vanderbilt Aye.)
15. 148th St. (Signal stop) (Tyndall St.)
16. Standard Place
17. 160th St. (Washington St.)
18. 163rd St. (Signal stop) (Hardenbrook Aye.)
19. 168th St. (Canal St.)

All el trains ran via the Broadway elevated to Broadway
Ferry. All trolley service east of Cypress Hills ceased
and the Broadway trolleys were routed to Crescent St.
to take care of the local Jamaica Aye. traffic between
Cypress Hills and East New York.

The public reaction to the elevated trains in the
streets was at first unfavorable, then favorable, and
finally so unfavorable as tocause the end of the service.
In the first weeks of June, these were the commonest
complaints against the new service:

1. Cars do not stop at every comer
2. The cars are a hindrance to business
3. The tracks are not fenced in as on Atlantic Aye.
4. The vibration rattles glassware and windows
5. Horses take fright at the Gars and the whistle



Top - Convertible no. 3719 at 160th St. about 1908 (L.I. Elec-
tric car in left background) Center - Open no. 625 at 160th
St. about 1909 Bottom - Open no. 630 at 160th St. in 1914
(NY&LIT no. 1 at right)



22

6. Lines of cars bloclc off one side of the street
from the other

7. Little time is saved
8. The trains run through to Broadway Ferry, but

75% of the traffic is to the Brooklyn Bridge
On Wednesday, June 3, 1903 some fifty of the

residents and shop-keepers in Richmond Hill held a meet-
ing for the purpose of taking action for the removal of
the el cars, alleging danger to wagons and impairment
of business. If the cars could not be easily removed,
then they wanted to petition the BRT to run single el
cars. A day or-two later a Richmond Hill resident com-
menced a taxpayer's suit in the Supreme Court against
the BRT, declaring the running of el cars a nuisance, a
menace toWe and detrimental to business. Other com-
plaints, some of them Well-founded, were as follows:

1. Passengers are let off at 165th St. because a
standing train occupies the rest of the tracks

2. Three lines of el cars abreast at 168th St. nearly
choke the street and horses will not pass

3. The whistle is blown late at night
4. Seats are slammed back and forth at 168th St.

terminal at night
5. A two-inch wide furrow for the wheel flanges

traps wagons.
On June 15th a mass meeting at Richmond Hill

recommended" that single cars be substituted for three-
car trains. That very day the BRT for the first time be-
gan running only two-car trains during slack periods of
the day, and a lone car. at night. Disturbed by all the
controversy over its new service, the railroad circulated
ballots on the cars during the last week of June, asking
its riders to approve or disapprove the el car service.
When the results were tabulated, it was discovered that
thevote was two to one in favor of retaining the el cars
During the month of July people became more and

more accustomed to the unusual service and appreciated
the very frequent schedule. Criticism of the company
was somewhat allayed when the BRT repaired the broken
asphalt around the tracks torn up by the wide treads
and deeper flanges on the el car wheels. Despite the
seriousness of some of the objections raised, the el
service had its good points. It provided a through ride
without change to the Broadway Ferry; it eliminated
climbing stairs at East New York; it gave a through ride
for five cents; each train provided seats for all the
passengers and eliminated crowding, and better time
was made because of fewer stops.
The taxpayer's suit, once instituted, had to run its

course, and in August the opinion of the Corporation
Counsel was sought as to the legality of the el opera-
tion. That gentleman admitted that the BRT owned
Jamaica Aye. in fee, but gave it as his opinion that the
Board of Aldermen had the right to regulate the run-
ning of cars, and to control and regulate the use of the
streets.
At this point the BRT dropped a legal bombshell on

the heads of the complainants. It brought out of hid-
ing the Agreement of 1897 with the old Jamaica Board
of Supervisors and belatedly filed it with the County
Register on October 3. This document is so interesting
that it is worth quoting in full:
"Whereas the Brooklyn, Queens Co. & Suburban R.R.

Co. has acquired and succeeded to all the rights of
the preceding turnpike, plank road, and railroad com-
panies, and whereas in pursuance of chap. 590 of the
Laws of 1897 the Board of Supervisors is authorized
to acquire by purchase or condemnation so much of
said turnpike or plank road as shall be situated in said
county, for the purpose of laying out, maintaining, im-
proving and repairing such portion of such road as
a public highway and as a county road, subject to the
retention of the fee by such turnpike, plank road, or
street surface railroad corporation and subject also to
all existing rights, franchises and privileges of such
corporation, and whereas the Board of Supervisors has
begun proceedings to acquire by condemnation such
portion of said road, the following agreement is made:
I. That said railroad shall at all times be constructed

and operated in such a manner as shall be suitable
and proper for a street surface railroad. That the
railroad company shall not make any radical changes
in its lines, switches, turnouts, etc. without authori-
zation from the municipal corporation.

2. That said railroad may continue to use electric trol-
ley motive power or change it from time to time in
pursuanceof the general laws of the state.

3. That no licenses shall be required or imposed upon
said railroad company by any municipal corpora-
tion.

4. That the said railroad company shall be entitled
to charge the rates of fare it is now entitled by law
to charge for the carriage of passengers on said
railroad and shall not be obliged to transfer pas-
sengers without additional fare from said railroad
to any other railroad, and shall not be obliged to
carry a passenger from any point on said railroad
to any other point on any other railroad operated
by it, or on the railroad of any other company,
without additional fare.

5. That the railroad shall not be liable for or charge-
able with the expense of paving, macadamizing, or
otherwise repairing or keeping in repair any portion
of said road between its tracks or elsewhere at any
time hereafter, except that if the railroad shall tear
up the street for the purpose of relaying rails or
making changes, it shall restore the surface of the
road to its former state.

6. No fee or otherwise shall be made by any municipal
corporation or office thereof against said railroad
company, or be required of it, nor shall any bond
be required of it for any permit or authorization to
it to open, tear up, the surface of said road or to
make excavations, erect poles or wires or other
appurtenances. If the municipal corporation author-
izes the tearing up of any portion of said road, due
notice must be given the railroad company and
said work must be done so as to least inconvenience
said company.

7. The acquisition of said road by said county shall
operate to clear the said road from all unpaid
taxes and assessments assessed or levied upon said
road prior to the year 1897 and to release and dis-
charge the railroad company from all liability there-
for.

8. Except as modified by this agreement, the said rail-



Top - LIRR grade crossing at Myrtle Aye., March 28, 1916 (Rugen)
Center - The same, looking east, with car no. 2982 (Rugen)
Bottom - Cypress Hills terminal, looking east, Feb. 22, 1915(car no. 3957 in foreground, el car no. 1447 overhead)(Watson)



23

road shall retain and continue to have and exercise
all its existing rights, franchises and privileges in
said road.

This document does not expressly permit el car oper-
ation on the surface, but the company is confirmed in
its right to run as many trains and as many cars as it
pleased. In the heat of the legal battle over the el cars,
the BRT counsel pointed out with more truth than tact
that the company, if it so desired, could erect a fence
on either side of its tracks and make another Atlantic
Aye. of Jamaica Avenue. Further the company had
a right to carry freight and could even run freight trains
if necessary. All of this was made possible by the fact
that the company still owned the fee to Jamaica Aye.
by right of succession from the old turnpike company.
President Winter of the BRT ominously remarked that
the company had the right to charge a 10c fare.
While the court fight raged on unabated, the el car

service continued just the same. In the three months pe-
riod from May 30 to Aug. 30, there were 43 accidents
of one kind or another, largely collisions with horses and
wagons. The wheel flanges tended to grind down the
vitrified brick lining the rails, and under the weight of
the heavy cars, the roadbed was sinking in spots. To ac-
commodate heavy traffic, thecompany in October issued
an order directing trains to stop at all nineteen stations
on the line. During the same month, one or twochanges
in stations were made:

1. Rockaway Rd. instead of Tyndall St.
2. 153rd & Church Sts. instead of Standard Place
3. Midway between Parsons B!vd. and 160th St. for

Flushing and Far Rockaway transfer
4. 162nd St. instead of 163rd St.
5. 166th St. (Merrick Blvd. or Smith St.)In mid-October the trains were fitted up with calcium

headlights to eliminate the risk of night accidents.
During November the Jamaica Aye. Association, com-

posed of all the anti-el car elements among the residents,
succeeded in having a resolution passed by the Board
of Aldermen declaring the el trains a nuisance and order-
ing their removal. The resolution was opposed only by
the railroad company, plus the New York & North Shore
Ry. and the New York & Queens County Railway, all
having interests in Jamaica. They argued that the Alder-
men had no rig'it to pass such an ordinance, the regula-
tion of railroads being a function of the State Board of
Railroad Commissioners. This view was rejected by the
city; there remained only the signature of the Mayor to
make the ordinance a law. After Mayor Low had heard
both sides, he announced that he would give his deci-
sion at the following meeting.
On Tuesday morning, December Bth, Mayor Low an-

nounced his decision by affixing his signature to the
anti-el ordinance; among other things the prohibition
provided that the BRT would become liable for a fine
of $50 for each train operated after noon of that same
day.
There was nothing the BRT could do to postpone the

enforcement of the law directed against it; every legal
maneuver had been tried in the courts and had failed,
thanks to the determined opposition of a small die-hard
core of old Jamaica property owners. The company
therefore hastily readied several additional Broadway
trolleys to take over the Jamaica service, and so ar-
ranged the final elevated train run that the cars would
be on the elevated structure by the stroke of noon. At
I 1:40 A.M. the last train left Jamaica for Cypress Hills,
and with its departure ended the short and turbulent era
of el car operation on Jamaica Avenue.

THE TROLLEYS AGAIN—19O4 TO THE COMING OF THE EL

The elevated trains had hardly departed from the
avenue before fresh howls of dissatisfaction rose from
the fickle public. The trolley service resumed at noon
December 8, 1903 but people had grown accustomed
to the el trains and found the trolleys less comfortable
and slower. Far more serious was the refusal of the
BRT to give transfers at East NewYork as theyhad done
in 1903 before the el cars ran.

The BRT, outwardly unperturbed, was secretly in-
censed at the opposition that the el scheme had aroused;
it had spent thousands of dollars acquiring property,
erecting expensive masonry structures, and making
changes in its physical plant, besides being put to the
expense of long drawn-out litigation with the civic asso-
ciations in the courts. The company determined to be
revenged on what it regarded as an ungrateful and
trouble-making minority and the 10c fare was the first
act of retaliation. When protests arose, the company
stonily replied that it could not afford to carry passen-
gers from the Brooklyn Bridge to Jamaica by trolley for
sc, and because it was done for four years was no rea-
son why the company should again institute such a serv-
ice.
The next step was the assignment to Jamaica Aye. of

all the oldest cars in Brooklyn, some of which, as Pres.
Winter admitted, the company never expected to run
again. No special effort was made to render the for-
mer excellentservice. The former express trolley service
was not resumed, and during the period that the el cars
had run, the residents of East New York had succeeded
in getting the company to abolish the Vesta Aye. loop,
so that even that convenience was gone. Committees
called upon the company and expostulated with the op-
erating officials, pointing out that the company was at
least morally bound to continue the service and rate of
fare which induced thousands to seek pleasant homesites
in Queens. To all of these representations the company
turned a deaf ear, pointing out that the civic associa-
tions had no one to blame but themselves.
Failing to get redress from the company, the local

residents turned upon the officials they themselves had
elected and supported, charging them with haying de-
stroyed a fairly good service without having secured a
better one. During February and March 1904 many of
the residents humbly requested that the company bring
back the el cars once more, but when Pres. Winter of
the BRT was bluntly asked whether he would also restore
the 5c fare, he refused to guarantee any such thing.



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#19-20 placed in service early I87I4.

!1 Large home made open, 8 bench, two-horse car; flat roof-,
single running board; built 1875.

'.2-30 Nine cars, built 1880, type uncertain. It is known that#28 was a large open.
Pour horse cars were scrapped in IB8I4.

■-b Pullman Car Co. 1887, four closed cars, platform at rear
end only; front end has center door behind which motorman
sits; deck roof; Peckham trucks; one 12 HP motor; capacity 2(
single end operated; no trolley pole; delivered Oct.13, I0S7
at Woodhaven.
#1 last mentioned in press Oct. 1890; perhaps scrapped 1893#2 last mentioned in press December 1892
#3 last mentioned December 1892#lj. last mentioned in press October 1892

;-6 Pullman Car Co. 1888, two smaller.closed cars
#5 last mentioned in press December 1893
Two large open cars, built 1889, with motors
One trailer closed car, former horse car
Two large open trailers, former horse cars
Two open cars put into service June 1890, probably trailers
One open car delivered Aug. 1890, probably with motors
Five cars, probably all closed motors, delivered Jan. 1891
Two opens Lewis & Fowler 1891, delivered April; motors
One closed motor car, Lewis & Fowler 1891, delivered April
Two trailer open cars; May 1892

13-31 Nine large open cars, delivered April and May 1893.; f
operated; Westinghouse motors
Hos. 25,26,30,31 were placed in service May 15, 1893

fror/

>o snov; plows, horse drawn, first mentioned 1875
>o horse-drawn trucks, first mentioned 1883

carts, first mentioned 1883
)ne electric snowplow, first mentioned May 1888, when it v/a
Jressed into service to haul open trailer cars during the
)ecor£.tion Day rush.
)ne snow plow, first mentioned January 1892
lorae made sprinkler, first mentioned April 1892, probably



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