The Atlantic Ave. Improvement of 1901-1905

By the late 1800's, conditions along the LIRR's Atlantic Ave. right-of-way were becoming more and more intolerable each year. There were over 50 grade crossings with existing streets, with a crossing gate and guard at each. Not only did LIRR trains block pedestrian, trolley and motor vehicle traffic, but many accidents and fatalities resulted from people trying to get around the gates. In 1897, an act was passed by the Cities of New York and Brooklyn which provided for the grade separation, by means of both tunnels and elevated structures. The bill also provided for a tunnel under the East River from Atlantic and Flatbush Aves. to Maiden Lane in Manhattan. Because of the huge cost involved, however, this measure eventually died and was withdrawn in 1900. Finally, on April 8, 1901 a new bill was passed (without provision for any tunnel under the river) and work commenced in December of that same year.

Due to the natural fall and rise of the elevation of Atlantic Ave. the project consisted of four sections as follows:
Section I - a tunnel from Flatbush Ave. to Bedford Ave.
Section II - an elevated structure from Nostrand Ave. to Ralph Ave.
Section III - a tunnel from Ralph Ave. to Howard Ave.
Section IV - an elevated structure from Manhattan Crossing (Snediker Ave.) to Atkins Ave.

Section IV was the first to be completed, with the first trains running on May 28, 1903, followed by Section II on November 23. Tunnel Section III opened in 1904

Section I was the last to be completed, mostly because of a new and much larger Flatbush Ave. station being built at the same time, with trains on two levels (the upper for freight). Since the old terminal had to be completely razed for the new building, a problem arose around where to terminate the trains during the construction. This was solved by using the elevated connection, which had been built back in 1899, with the BRT's 5th Ave. Elevated. Temporary wooden platforms were built on the connection. After the construction was completed, the connection was rebuilt in a slightly different location, however for some reason, the joint service with the BRT was never resumed. Here's a track map of the new station (courtesy V. Seyfried) and a picture of the new station (Ron Ziel collection).

On November 5, 1905 trains (electric) began running into the new underground station, even though the new brick building had just begun being built and part of the platforms were unroofed and open to the sky. On April 1, 1907 the new Flatbush Ave. station was opened to the public.

It should be noted that around 1940, the Section IV elevated portion was demolished and replaced by a tunnel which runs from East NY to the portal at Morris Park.


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