A section of
track of the former Jay Street Connecting Railroad along Jay Street's eastern
Why A Virtual Tour of the Jay Street Connecting Railroad?
The DUMBO (which is an acronym for "Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, not to be confused with the Disney character) section of Brooklyn has seen a transformation of sorts over the last several years. Like many of New York City's neighborhoods, DUMBO has undergone a revitalization where an area that was once full of old, decaying factories and lofts are now being transformed in to apartments and galleries for artists. One can draw the comparison of DUMBO's renaissance to the rebirth of SoHo Manhattan in the early 1990's. In DUMBO's case, artists and entertainers have fled SoHo's , TriBeca's, and Greenwich Village's expensive rents by crossing the East River and taking up residence in DUMBO. Although this area of Brooklyn has been referred to DUMBO for the past couple of years, the area was commonly known as Vinegar Hill before gentrification started to take root. Like many neighborhoods in New York City, time has a way of changing the face and overall appearance of the landscape. DUMBO is not an exception to this rule.
At one time, a small railroad operated along the streets of DUMBO. This railroad was named the Jay Street Connecting Railroad, aptly named for one of the thoroughfares in the neighborhood. The Jay Street Connecting Railroad and the railroad's various terminals served industry and factories in the area. Tug boats and carfloats were utilized to bring boxcars to the Jay Street terminals. Once the boxcars were offloaded from the carfloats on to the rails, small diesel trains would pull the boxcars to the various factories along the railroad's right-of-way. Since the railroad only served the DUMBO area, trucks and other vehicles were brought in to make shipments from the factories to the goods intended destination. The Jay Street Connecting Railroad ceased operations in 1958, as trucks increasingly became the dominant form of shipping transportation in the New York City area.
On Sunday, September 30th, Bernard Ente hosted one of his infamous New York City transportation infrastructure walking tours. This particular tour focused on the Jay Street Connecting Railroad. Your webmaster at OldNYC.com determined that this would be the perfect opportunity to learn more about the railroad, explore the ever-changing DUMBO area, and take pictures capturing this rapidly disappearing piece of former New York City transportation infrastructure.
A special note to OldNYC.com visitors: since there is very little information regarding the JSCRR available on the web or in the library, please feel free to contribute any knowledge that you may have about this unique railroad, and I will gladly post it to the site. As you can see from many of the other tours here at OldNYC.com, people have contributed their knowledge about a particular tour, making us all smarter in the process. Content corrections are also appreciated and well received by your OldNYC.com webmaster.
Let's begin the tour....
map of where the Jay Street Connecting Railroad is located. The little
red marking located towards the bottom left of the picture indicates the
Map provided by Harry Hassler; original map creator unknown.
Looking north on Plymouth Street. Notice how the tracks were shaped to form a unique curve. This was done so that the train would be able to handle the tight turn as it turned off of Jay Street.
The Jay Street Connecting Railroad (JSCRR) extended north past the Manhattan
Bridge, along John Street as it connected with the Jay Street Terminal.
The railroad diverges at this point. To the left is Jay Street, to the right is John Street. Asphalt pavement covers some of the tracks before at the merge point.
An old hoist resides on the side of one of the factories that line John Street.
Looking south on Plymouth Street, the Manhattan Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge loom in the background. Cobblestone bricks make up much of the street foundation in this neighborhood.
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