Chapter Seventeen: A Brief History Of Street Car Operations In Brooklyn122
Significant Brooklyn Trolley Milestones125
Historical Photos Of An Earlier Brooklyn 127
Appendix: Fischler's Favorites 129
Roster Of Brooklyn Trolley Routes, Circa 1925 130
Roster Of Cars And Car Builders132
Most youngsters growing up in Brooklyn today know about the trolley car only through old movies and history books. However, there was a time when real trolleys were a presence in every part of Brooklyn, the "hometown" of one in every seven Americans.
The diesel bus, which supplanted the trolley on our streets, is a poor substitute for stimulating the boyhood imagination that Stan Fischler captures so well in this delightful memoir.
In describing his trolley adventures while growing up in Brooklyn, Stan reveals the origins of his lifelong preoccupation with the New York City transit system. Fischler chronicles the central role that the trolley car played in the vitality of Brooklyn and captures the spirit of an era when this particular means of transportation was an integral part of the lives of the millions of our citizens.
At the time Stan grew up, there were few destinations in Brooklyn you could not reach by trolley. The trolley was a vital means of travel for residents of every part of the Borough, and there were probably more trolley cars in Brooklyn than any other major metropolis in the world. With the pole raised from the back of the car to draw power from the electric wires overhead, these steel cars swayed down the middle of every major thoroughfare, connecting neighborhoods from Greenpoint and Williamsburg to Coney Island and Flatlands.
In addition to its important role in carrying people to work in factories, warehouses and offices, the trolley opened a whole world of leisure and recreation to people of all ages for just a nickel. It took them to visit family and friends; it took them Downtown to shop or go to the movies; it took them to Coney Island for fun or the ferry at 69th Street for a quick voyage to Staten Island; it also took them to watch the Brooklyn Dodgers play at Ebbets Field.
The trolley car, in fact, was responsible for naming the legendary Brooklyn baseball team. With these "monsters on rails" roaming the major streets, particularly in the earlier parts of this century when they became popular, survival meant learning to be a "trolley dodger" to stay out of their way.
Like other stalwart Brooklynites, Stan learned how to be a "trolley dodger." He also learned how to write skillfully to tell the world about his love for both the trolley and his native Brooklyn. In this book, as he weaves his personal reminiscences into a definitive history of the growth of the trolley in Brooklyn, Stan also writes about its demise. However, I am pleased to note that in urban areas in the U.S. and around the world, the virtues of the trolley are once again being recognized. Perhaps the trolley will be as much a part of our future as it is our past.
During the era that is the subject of this book, Brooklyn's vast network of trolleys seemed indestructible. Unfortunately, that proved to be an illusion, as "progress" replaced the trolley with a more prosaic means of transportation. What is true, however, is that the Brooklynites who rode the trolleys absorbed a strength of character, determination and resilience from those old steel cars and rails. The trolleys may not have survived, but the Brooklyn character has. In this marvelous book, Stan Fischler helps us understand why.
Howard Golden Borough President of Brooklyn
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