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The BMT Culver Line is a rapid transit line of the BMT division of the New York City Subway, running from Coney Island through Gravesend to Ditmas Avenue, where it becomes the IND Culver Line. Culver Line was originally the popular name of the Prospect Park and Coney Island Railroad (owned by Andrew Culver), an excursion railroad line originally opened from a station at the eastern side of Greenwood Cemetery to Coney Island in Kings County, New York (now Brooklyn, New York) in 1875.
Extent and serviceEdit
The BMT Culver Line carries F service over its full length, with no scheduled passenger service on the center express track. There is occasional express service in the Peak direction during rush hours. Express trains and rush-hour put-ins use Kings Highway as a terminal. All other trains terminate at the Coney Island Coney Island–Stillwell Avenue Terminal.
At Ditmas Avenue, the Culver Ramp ends and the underground IND Culver Line becomes the elevated BMT Culver Line. The BMT Culver Line is a three-track Dual Contracts elevated on the former BMT line over McDonald (formerly Gravesend) Avenue. After Avenue X station, a ramp diverges to the surface for access to the Culver Yard of the Coney Island Yards complex. At this point the Culver Line narrows to a two-track structure bearing one more station – Neptune Avenue – before curving into West Eighth Street–New York Aquarium station on Coney Island. Formally, the Culver Line ends as the track curve enters the lower level of the double-decked station, and the chaining track designation changes from IND tracks B1 and B2 to BMT tracks A1 and A2 of the Brighton Line. However, there is no longer a connection to the Brighton Line at this point, and for all practical purposes the Culver Line continues into tracks 5 and 6 of the Coney Island–Stillwell Avenue Terminal.
The Greenwood Cemetery station allowed transfer to horse-drawn streetcars to downtown Brooklyn. As the Culver Line was built on a nearly straight path from terminal to terminal, it was a popular choice for travelers to the Atlantic Ocean shore at Coney Island.
Long Island Rail Road ownershipEdit
The Culver Line was owned by the Long Island Rail Road from 1895 to 1899 and for a time both before (by interline agreements) and throughout that period, used the Culver Line in whole or in part for a variety of services in combination with its New York and Manhattan Beach Railway lines to provide services variously connecting downtown Brooklyn via the Fifth Avenue Elevated, the 39th Street Ferry and the 65th Street Ferry on the one hand, and the Sheepshead Bay Race Track, West Brighton and Manhattan Beach, the latter two on Coney Island, on the other hand.
39th Street Ferry / 5th Avenue Elevated BranchEdit
The Culver Line built a connection to the South Brooklyn Railway, which had built a line to gain access to ferry connections at 39th Street and the waterfront. When this branch, parallel to Brooklyn 37th Street, was electrified with trolley wire elevated trains from the Fifth Avenue Line were able to use the Culver Line to reach Coney Island directly from Park Row in Lower Manhattan to Coney Island. Under the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company, the Culver became the primary service on the Fifth Avenue El.
Greenwood Cemetery BranchEdit
In 1891, the Coney Island & Brooklyn Railroad electrified its Coney Island Avenue Streetcar Line and breached its agreement to run its cars to the Culver's Greenwood Cemetery terminal in favor of connecting its own Smith Street Streetcar Line to its former horsecar line. In retaliation, the Culver Line, after electrifying its own line, interoperated with the Nassau Electric Railway's Vanderbilt Avenue Streetcar Line to downtown Brooklyn and lower Manhattan via the Brooklyn Bridge.
From this start, the Culver Line became a major trolley route in addition to its excursion and elevated railway traffic, accepting connections from a variety of other streetcar lines, many of these for the summer-only trade.
Elevated and subway operationsEdit
The branch to the BMT Fifth Avenue Line was elevated in 1919. Though it had track access to the BMT Fourth Avenue Line subway from that time, it operated only elevated service until the opening of the Nassau Street Loop in 1931, when a subway service was established, though the elevated line remained the core service until 1940. When the IND Culver Line was connected to the elevated Culver Line in 1954, the BMT Fourth Avenue Service was truncated at Ditmas Avenue, later becoming the Culver Shuttle. The IND section has since become the IND Culver Line; for a while the BMT part was also in the IND division (and was re-chained as such), but with the Chrystie Street Connection opening in 1967, the BMT and IND merged operations. The BMT part still uses BMT radio frequencies
Streetcar operations on the surface Culver Line continued to the very end of Brooklyn streetcar operations on October 31, 1956. The final services were the McDonald Avenue Streetcar Line (formerly known as Gravesend Avenue Line) and the 16th Avenue Branch of the Church Avenue Street Car (formerly known as Gravesend-Church). The McDonald Avenue Line traced the entire route of the original Culver Line, except at its very southern end, where it rather ironically ended at the West 5th Street Depot of its former rival, the Coney Island and Brooklyn Railroad.
Most other Culver streetcar operations continued until after World War II, with names like Nostrand–Culver and Tompkins–Culver.
|Station||Tracks||Services||Opened||Transfers and notes|
|begins from the IND Culver Line (F always)|
|Ditmas Avenue||local||F always||July 16, 1919|
|18th Avenue||all||F always||March 16, 1919|
|Avenue I||local||F always||March 16, 1919|
|Bay Parkway||local||F always||March 16, 1919|
|Avenue N||local||F always||March 16, 1919|
|Avenue P||local||F always||March 16, 1919|
|Kings Highway||all||F always||March 16, 1919|
|Avenue U||local||F always||May 10, 1919|
|Avenue X||local||F always||May 10, 1919|
|Express track ends|
|Neptune Avenue||all||F always||May 1, 1920|
|West Eighth Street-New York Aquarium||all||F always||May 19, 1919||Q (Brighton Line)|
|Coney Island–Stillwell Avenue||all||F always||May 1, 1920||D (West End Line)|
N (Sea Beach Line)
Q (Brighton Line)