New Rapid Transit Link in Operation (Culver Line) (1919)
The New York Times · Sunday, March 16, 1919
By FREDERICK J. H. KRACKE, Public Service Commissioner.
Operation of the new Culver elevated line in Brooklyn from Ninth Avenue and Thirty-eighth Street to Kings Highway was scheduled to begin at 3 o'clock this morning. Later the service will be extended to Avenue I and still later, sometime in the early Fall, it will reach its final terminus at Coney Island. The line traverses largely a section susceptible of almost unlimited real estate development. The following statement, prepared for the Times, discusses the real estate feature of the new line:
Of course, I am naturally optimistic about the future of real estate in the broad, flat belt of South Brooklyn territory that is traversed by the West End, Sea Beach and Culver lines, and I think that my optimism is based upon solid grounds. I do not anticipate any such sudden development as occurred in the Bronx after the extension of the first subway system into that borough. That phenomenal development was the result of a one way exodus from overpopulated sections of Manhattan. It occurred in what might be called the beginning of rapid transit history.
The new gospel of rapid transit development on which the so-called dual system is largely founded is the even devolopment of the city and the production of improved living conditions for its inhabitants. As is well known, there has not been any movement which might properly be called a "boom" along any of the newer rapid transit lines, but there is evidence now that the wall of high costs of materials and labor which has held back the prophesied normal development along the numerous new elevated and subway extensions is yielding before the pressure of unprecedentedly high rents. Men returning from the war, the natural gravitation of workers from artificially created munition manufacturing centres to the metropolis, and possibly a renewal of the tide of immigration must inevitably break down the barrier which has recently existed against new construction.
Conditions over which public authorities have substantially no control and which it was impossible to foresee when the dual contracts were signed in 1913 have held back the completion of the Culver Line-- the last of the South Brooklyn rapid transit tributaries. It is now completed so that operation may be had as far as Kings Highway, and within a few months at most the city's construction work will be completed. It traverses a really great section of the city, the streets nearly all laid out and ready for use, the sewers, water mains, gas, and electric lighting facilities in phce. It is a neighborhood of homes, with a splendid American community feeling in evidence.
Just before the war, in anticipation of rapid transit development, an excellent beginning of construction was made at Kensington. where the connection of the Culver Line from the Fourth Avenue Subway meets Gravesend Avenue. Even during the war the section in the vicinity of Fifteenth and Thirteenth Avenues was energetically developed. The rapid development of brick stores and apartments, with the Culver Line stations as the centres of such developed areas, it seems should be the next stage; for the stations were placed not only with regard to operating schedules, but with a view of continuing development along the lines already begun, and here it should be noted that on this whole line only one station of all those which were operated in connection with the Culver surface line has been omitted, namely, that at Fifteenth Avenue. This station was left out because it was felt that it was not greatly needed, and because the congestion of stations would have been directly contrary to the principles of practical rapid transit operation. The section in the neighborhood of Fifteenth Avenue has been well provided for, however, by extending the station platform of the Thirteenth Avenue Station southeast toward Fifteenth Avenue.
A development of significance has resulted from the enterprise of real estate operators along the stretch of private right of way between Tenth Avenue and Gravesend Avenue. Here advantage has been taken of the ever-growing possibilities of the surface lines, as lumber yards, coal yards, machine shops, and manufacturing plants have sprung up, the employees of which are settling in the neighborhood. This factory development will find its labor market not only locally, but from all parts of the transit system directly accessible through the Culver Line.
On either side of Gravesend Avenue and just back from the direct line of that thoroughfare are great areas which ought to present ideal inducements to building operators. These areas are, generally speaking, awaiting development, with wide stretches of open country, dotted here and there with cottages, and with now and again an old Colonial Mansion giving an interesting touch to the picture. The ground is possible of easy excavation, and there is generally found excellent building sand, which is not the case, for example, in the Bronx and some parts of Queens.
Building operations which are begun in the next three or four months will probably be completed just about in time for the first rush of population unable to stand the present high rents of the centrally located areas. There are thousands of persons in the city who will appreciate what it means to own their own homes. There are thousands more who will welcome the opportunity to rent at lesser figures, with a little more of God's sunlight, with a great ocean and its cooling waters and breezes not ten minutes distant, with speedy and direct access to the very heart of the city's social centres.
There will be scarcely any portion of any borough of the city which will possess better service facilities than the Gravesend-Keneington-Parkville section when the Culver line has been connected with the Fourth Avenue Surway. This occurrence will take place toward the end of the year when the Montague Street tunnel line to Brooklyn shall have been completed and placed in operation. For the present the operation of the Culver line will be in connection with the Fifth Avenue elevated line, with privilege of a free transfer to the Fourth Avenue subway at Ninth Avenue and Thirty-eighth Street. This is so that the transit experts of the commission may determine what is the best distribution of traffic for the Fourth Avenue subway and make arrangements accordingly.
It will be possible for residents along the Culver line to use the Broadway subway without change of cars from their homes direct to places of business along Broadway, Manhattan, as far north as Fifty-ninth Street. And they will be able to make this trip in about the time that is now required to get them to and from the Brooklyn Bridge by elevated railroad.
It is with some feeling of pride that I note that the Public Service Commission took the action of formally decreeing the Culver line a part of the Fourth Avenue subway operation upon my motion and at my instance. It is always well to remember, too, that the through operation of the Culver line to Coney Island is the signal, under the terms of the dual system contracts, for the placing in effect of the five cent fare to Coney Island.