Brooklyn's Subway Will Open Today (Fourth Ave. Line) (1915)

From nycsubway.org

The New York Times · Saturday, June 19, 1915

BROOKLYN'S SUBWAY WILL OPEN TODAY. First Official Train Will Run from Municipal Building to Coney Island.
Speeches by the Mayor, Local Officials, and Officers of the Rapid Transit Company.

The Fourth Avenue Subway in Brooklyn will be opened officially today with proper ceremonies. At noon a train made up of new all-steel, side-entrance cars will leave the Fifty-ninth Street station of the Fourth Avenue line, come to Manhattan, pick up city officials and other guests, make the run to Coney Island, and return to Fifty-ninth Street. There exercises will be held under the auspices of the West End Board of Trade. There will be speeches by Mayor Mitchel, Borough President Pounds, Chairman McCall of the Public Service Commission, President Williams of the Brooklyn Rapid Transit, and Jeremiah J. O'Leary, Chairman of the Celebration Committee.

The route to Coney Island will be from the Chambers Street station in the basement of the Municipal Building, over the Manhattan Bridge, through the new Subway to Sixty-fourth Street, and over the Sea Beach tracks. Temporary operation over the local tracks of the line will begin next Tuesday. It is hoped to have all local and express tracks in operation about a week later.

Construction work on the Fourth Avenue tunnel was begun on Nov. 13, 1909, and the tube contracts amounted to about $16,000,000. The structure is practically all of concrete, built around a steel frame. Each train runs in a separate tunnel to facilitate ventilation. Each station has a different color scheme in decoration to make identification of the stations by passengers easier. When the express tracks are completed the running time from Manhattan to Coney Island will be about 25 minutes.


The New York Times · Sunday, June 20, 1915

Refuses to Attend 4th Av. Line Ceremony Because He Feels He Was Slighted.
10,000 School Children Give Pageant In Honor of the Event--Traffic Starts Tuesday.

South Brooklyn celebrated in imposing manner yesterday the opening of the Fourth Avenue subway. An eight-car train, filled with officials representing the city, the Public Service Commission, the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company, and civic organizations of Brooklyn, was run through the new subway from Manhattan and over the reconstructed Sea Beach line to Coney Island and back to Fifty-ninth Street. Then the party went to the park at Third Avenue and Sixty-Seventh Street, where speeches were made and 10,000 school children held patriotic exercises.

Mayor Mitchel did not take part in the ceremony. He had intended to go, but an invitation he said, did not reach him until Friday night, and in a huff he left the City Hall yesterday morning and went to the launching of the Arizona at the Brooklyn Navy Yard instead. The Mayor delivered a severe rebuke to the officials in charge of the celebration, and made it plain that in not asking him until the last minute they had insulted his high office rather given affront to him personally. The B.R.T. officials said that no slight was intended and that as a matter of fact, his secretary had been asked to keep the date open when the Mayor was on his Western trip.

"I shall not attend the Fourth Avenue subway celebration today," said the Mayor in anger as he left the City Hall, "because the invitation did not reach me until late yesterday and I did not open it until today. In the meantime I had accepted an invitation to attend the launching of the battleship Arizona at the navy yard this afternoon. That previous acceptance will preclude the possibility of my going over the subway route with the official party. I am very sorry about it.

Notice Too Short. "It's too bad there wasn't somebody to show the Mayor of the City of New York the courtesy to notify him in decent time of the Fourth Avenue subway celebration. I think the Mayor of the city should be present at such an event as the subway opening, of such great importance to the city, but a day's advance notice was insufficient."

President Williams, when told of the Mayor's feelings, said his company had nothing to do with the celebration plans and he didn't blame the Mayor in the least. He said the company had decided only a few days ago to run the official car.

"We at once got out invitations and the first one I sent was to the Mayor with a personal note," said Colonel Williams. "I have just received a very cordial letter from the Mayor congratulation the B.R.T. on the opening of the line and incidentally remarking on the fact that I was the only one from whom he got any word on the celebration."

The celebration at Bay Ridge was in charge of Jeremiah J. O'Leary, President of the West End Board of Trade, and, with a large party of South Brooklynites, he was on the official train when it pulled out of the Chambers Street station in the basement of the Municipal Building at 1:30 o'clock. On the train where Chairman McCall of the Public Service Commission, Commissioners William Hayward and George V.S. Williams, Secretary Travis Whitney and Assistant Secretary James B. Walker, Chief Engineer Craven and a number of assistant engineers, President Lewis H. Pounds of Brooklyn, former Controller Bird S. Coler, former Commissioner William R. Willcox and many others.

The train made the trip to Coney Island using the local tracks in forty-five minutes, but there was no effort to make speed. The express tracks will not be finished for several weeks, and then it is expected the trip will be made in twenty-five minutes.

Seating Arrangements Good. The cars are all steel, with three doors on each side, and are operated by push buttons from the centre doors. The seats are placed around the sides of the car, with small cross seats at intervals. There are no straps, but a number of upright iron stanchions are placed throughout the car for the use of standees. The cars are not equipped with fans and when they are not in motion they are not as comfortable as the old Interborough type. The trains run through single tubes, however, and the ventilating system is better than in the Manhattan subways.

On the return trip from Coney Island the train stopped at Twenty-second Avenue, Mapleton Park, and the guests were invited by William Sugarman of the Alco Building Company to march through the park. Several hundred, headed by the B.R.T. Band did so, and the train then went on to Fifty-ninth Street, where the ceremonies of the day were held. Two large grandstands had been erected in front of the Bay Ridge High School. A procession and pageant of several thousand school children, carrying American flags and led by bands and heralds and figures representing Uncle Sam and Miss Bay Ridge, opened the exercises.

Chairman O'Leary introduced Borough President Pounds, who said:

"An important link has been added to the great transportation facilities of the borough. It is the first through system of rapid transit that Brooklyn has had. It is the first line to be opened here that is not to be controlled by the Borough of Manhattan, and we can distinctly call it a Brooklyn institution."

Chairman Edward E. McCall and President Williams also spoke.

New Line Cost $25,000,000. A high school boy read an essay entitled "Bay Ridge-- Its Subway and Its Future," written by Miss Thora Royston, a high school girl. The essay had won the prize in a competition and the prize was a wrist watch, which Chairman O'Leary presented to Miss Royston.

The guests were then taken in automobiles to the Ridge Club, where luncheon was served, and where there were more speeches. Bird S. Coler made the principal speech here.

The new subway, together with the Sea Beach Line improvement, represents a cost of about $25,000,000. The subway originated with the old Board of Rapid Transit Railroad Commissioners in 1905, but the matter was taken to the courts. The first work was done on Nov. 13, 1909. Nearly 2,500,000 cubic yards of earth were excavated from it and 464,639 cubic yards of concrete, and 51,060 cubic yards of steel were used in building it. It is twelve miles long and is considered by engineers to be the best equipped subway in the world. Regular service will begin over it on Tuesday. The running time from Park Row to Coney Island over the local tracks will be thirty-two minutes.

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