The New York City Subway Lines Project
SS Culver Shuttle
Anyone waiting for the SS Culver Shuttle will be waiting a long, long time...
Originally, the Shuttle trackage was part of the Culver Line proper. It began as a steam railroad called the Prospect Park and Coney Island, connecting both of its namesake points, and continuing east to Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay. In 1893, the Long Island Rail Road acquired a controlling interest, and promptly leased the line to the BRT, predecessor of the BMT. In 1919, the BRT elevated the trackage, which had run at street level. The original trackage was then operated by a freight shortline, the South Brooklyn Railway.
The Culver Line was served by the BMT 4th Avenue subway, and the 5th Avenue el, until the el was torn down in 1940. The unification of New York City's various subway systems, begun in 1940, would have a profound effect on the Culver Line. The IND operated a service off of its 6th Avenue (Manhattan) trunk line to Church Avenue, an underground station about a mile away from the Culver station at Ditmas Avenue.
In 1954, a ramp was completed connecting the IND with the Culver Line. The Ditmas Avenue station was rebuilt in a way that severed the original Culver Line. The el south of Ditmas Avenue fed directly into the IND tunnel, while the el west of Ditmas was relegated to a single track on the outside of the southbound platform that had no physical connection to the Culver or IND trackage.
BMT service that had used the Culver was diverted onto the West End and Sea Beach lines, leaving a 4-stop shuttle to ply the tracks between 9th Avenue and Ditmas. The Culver Shuttle was an inconvenient and unwanted orphan from the start. The northbound track was removed, so that only one train could be operated on the line at any given time. The level of ridership didn't justify two trains, or two tracks, for that matter.
On the other end, the Shuttle connected with the West End service at 9th Avenue, running from the lower level of 9th Avenue, now unused. This was especially inconvenient because West End service ran as a shuttle during off-hours, terminating one stop further up the line. For example,a passenger wishing to travel from 18th Avenue on the Culver Line to 25th Street on the 4th Avenue subway, a distance of eight stops, would have to take four trains at certain times of night.
The Culver Shuttle was basically permitted to rot, as the MTA planned to do away with it from day one. The wooden platforms were never replaced, for example. In May of 1975, the Shuttle was finally terminated. The structure itself remained in place, deteriorating visibly, until it was torn down in 1985.
Connections c.1975: B M
Fort Hamilton Parkway
Connections c.1975: F
Remnants of the Culver Shuttle: The lower level of 9th Avenue still exists, though no trains stop there. The lower level is underground, and the tunnel mouths where the Culver emerged to street level are visible, as is part of the ramp that led to the elevated structure. The elevated structure was unusual in that it ran over its own right of way just north of 38th Street, rather than over the street as is common practice in New York. Of this part of the el, nothing exists, but a few girders still exist at Ditmas Avenue showing where the line once branched off to the west.
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