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The line is unofficially but conveniently broken into three sections.
Upper Fourth Avenue LineEdit
The line begins as the two tracks of the Montague Street tunnel enter Brooklyn, coming from either the BMT Broadway Line Whitehall Street or the BMT Nassau Street Line Broad Street stations in Manhattan. It runs under Montague Street, through the Court Street-Borough Hall station to Court Street where it curves slightly south through the Brooklyn Civic Center onto Willoughby Street, then through the Lawrence Street station to the point where Willoughby Street meets Flatbush Avenue Extension. There, it turns immediately into the DeKalb Avenue station under Flatbush. Here, it is joined by the four tracks coming from the Manhattan Bridge in a six-track station shared with the Brighton Line. Beyond the DeKalb station, it becomes a four-track system; it briefly turns east under Fulton Street before turning south under 4th Avenue.
Central Fourth Avenue LineEdit
Coming south from the DeKalb Avenue station and off of Fulton Street, this four-track system runs entirely under 4th Avenue to just past the 59th Street station.
Much of the surface of this segment of 4th Avenue runs at the foot of what amounts to a cliff whose rise starts in the vicinity of Union Street and does not fully ease down until about 65th Street. Certain of the streets leading up to 5th Avenue are very steep, reminding one more of what you see in San Francisco than anything you could imagine elsewhere in Brooklyn or Queens. This segment of 4th Avenue is also exceptionally wide by New York City standards, particularly considering how long ago it was laid out.
Lower Fourth Avenue LineEdit
South of the 59th Street Station, the line reduces to two tracks. It continues running under 4th Avenue to its terminus at the 95th Street station.
On the surface, while still wide, 4th Avenue is obviously narrower than the section north of Leif Eiriksson Park.
Just south of the 36th Street station, the West End Line (i.e., the New Utrecht Avenue elevated line) branches off eastwards, running to its terminus at Coney Island. Until the mid-1950s, the BMT Culver Line also branched off from here.
Just beyond the 59th Street station, the Sea Beach Line branches off eastwards towards Coney Island via an open-cut right-of-way.
Upper Fourth Avenue Line StationsEdit
Court Street–Borough Hall offers transfers to the East Side IRT (Lexington Avenue) and West Side IRT (Broadway-7th Avenue) Borough Hall stations. Most find it more convenient to make the transfer at the Atlantic Avenue IRT stations
A direct transfer from the Lawrence Street station to the Jay Street–Borough Hall IND station is planned as part of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's 2005–2009 Capital Program. This station is also where the "money train" for the IRT and BMT divisions deposit their collections, just beyond the western end of the station; the IND division does this upstairs in the Jay Street station.
Central Fourth Avenue Line StationsEdit
- Atlantic Avenue–Pacific Street Station (express and local)
- Union Street
- 9th Street (Transfer to the Fourth Avenue IND station upstairs)
- Prospect Avenue
- 25th Street
- 36th Street (express and local)
- 45th Street
- 53rd Street
- 59th Street (express and local)
The Pacific Street Station offers transfers to the four-tracks of the IRT station and less conveniently to the two-tracks of the Atlantic Avenue Brighton Line station. It has an easy connection to the LIRR Atlantic Branch terminus.
Transferring from the 9th Street to the Fourth Avenue IND station upstairs represents a very long climb up a very long set of stairs and should not be attempted by those whose health would not allow such a difficult climb.
Lower Fourth Avenue Line StationsEdit
The Fourth Avenue Line traditionally carries the R (Fourth Avenue local), N (Sea Beach express) and D (West End express) services. The M train operates as a local to 36th street and then on to the Bay Parkway station via the West End Line during rush hours.
The D and N trains function on the express tracks, while the local tracks carry the R. Manhattan-wards from the DeKalb Avenue station, the local tracks run to Manhattan via the Montague Street tunnel towards either the BMT Broadway Line Whitehall Street station or the Nassau Street Line Broad Street station. The express tracks go to Manhattan via the Manhattan Bridge, to either the BMT Broadway Line Canal Street express station and thence uptown via Broadway or to the IND Grand Street station and uptown as part of the Sixth Avenue Subway.
The Fourth Avenue Line was part of the Dual Contracts.
It replaced the parallel elements of the old, now long-ago-demolished elevated system running above 5th Avenue and 3rd Avenue, and captured the BMT lines to the east of them.
Formerly, the Fourth Avenue Line serviced the BMT Culver Line, it connecting into the 36th Street station via the BMT yards south of Greenwood Cemetery, from a now-demolished elevated structure, the barest stub of which should still be visible at the Ditmas Avenue station (even the right-of-way is gone, replaced by 80s-era houses).