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The West End Line, now a subway line in Brooklyn, New York City, is a branch line from the Broadway (Manhattan)-Fourth Avenue (Brooklyn) subway, serving the communities of Borough Park, New Utrecht, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach and Coney Island. It is served full time by the D, and rush hours by the M, which provides direct access to the financial district.
Although it was early dubbed the West End Line, it was also known as the Gunther's Road and the Bath Beach Line while it was a steam railroad. When planned as an elevated line, it was originally mapped as the New Utrecht Avenue Line but the common name prevailed after construction.
Opening as steam roadEdit
The West End Line was opened on October 5, 1863 as a steam dummy road, the Brooklyn, Bath and Coney Island Rail Road (BB&CI), to serve the communities between the Brooklyn city line and Bath Beach. At 11:00 on June 8, 1864, the extension to Coney Island was opened to the public, making it the first steam railroad to bring beachgoers from downtown Brooklyn. At the Brooklyn end, the steam line ended at 36th Street and Fifth Avenue, where the BB&CI's own horsecars ran to a connection with horsecars of the Brooklyn City Railroad at 25th Street and Fifth Avenue. The odd double transfer was made necessary by Brooklyn's refusal to allow the line to operate steam cars within its city limits.
The road took its common name from the area of its terminal on Coney Island, where a hotel of the same name, but unconnected to the railroad, existed. Its terminal was known as West End Terminal, a name which survived upon major rebuilding in 1919 as New West End Terminal before that name fell into disuse.
The road was reorganized in 1868, on January 22, 1879, and again on December 1, 1885, the latter time changing its name to the Brooklyn, Bath and West End Railroad, formalizing the use of West End in the line's name. Before that time, the original steam dummy cars, which consisted of a locomotive and passenger car in one railroad-coach-type frame, were replaced by conventional steam locomotives pulling unpowered coaches.
A series of lease agreements between 1893 and 1899 put the West End in control of a series of other companies, the last putting it under the control of the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company (BRT) system on April 1, 1899.
Part of the Brooklyn elevated systemEdit
BRT control paved the way for the line to be connected to the elevated system, and in 1900 electric service began between Park Row, Manhattan, and Bath Beach, Brooklyn. Trains operated by third rail power to a ramp at 37th Street, and from that point, trains raised trolley poles to operate from overhead wire, mostly on streets, to Coney Island.
Part of the New York City subway systemEdit
Under the Dual Contracts of 1913, the line was rebuilt as an elevated line over New Utrecht Avenue, 86th Street and Stillwell Avenue, fully opening to Coney Island on July 21, 1917. The original surface right-of-way was retained for use by trolley cars to provide local service and protect the company's franchise. Over the years, the West End line has been featured in movies and television shows. The famous chase scene from "The French Connection" (1971) was filmed under the West End line in Brooklyn, and the opening scene of "Saturday Night Fever" (1977) features Tony Manero (John Travolta) walking down 86th Street, with the West End elevated line above. Additionally, the opening credits of the television show "Welcome Back, Kotter" (1975) also featured the West End line.
- Opening of the Brooklyn, Bath and Coney Island Railroad, New York Times June 9, 1864 page 2
- Railroad History Database