Trolley Follies

trolley.jpgThe Brooklyn Papers is reporting (via Curbed) that the planners of Brooklyn Bridge Park have nixed the idea of trolley cars before they’ve even spent $1 million to investigate ways to provide access to the waterfront, which is very isolated. I posted about this back in January (click here) listing it as one of three transportation alternatives that are good ideas but probably not gonna happen. It’s truly a shame.

The man who has rather obsessively been extolling the virtues of trolley cars, Arthur Melnick, says he has access to a dozen historic trolleys of the design that were so ubiquitous in Brooklyn from the ’30s through the ’50s. But no, it seems the geniuses at Downtown Brooklyn Waterfront Development Corporation — caving to pressure from NIMBYs in Brooklyn Hts. who don’t want “outsiders” tramping through their precious neighborhood via trolley car — say at best, there would be a trolley-like jitney bus.

“We could have a jitney [bus] that looks like a trolley, like they have Downtown,” said Hank Gutman, a DBWLDC board member.

For crying out loud, the 85-acre park taking shape along 1.3 miles of the Brooklyn waterfront has been 25 years in the making; it would be nice if people could get there without being insulted by fake trolleys or having to go through a dank underground tunnel from a far away subway station, which is another possibility under consideration.


What’s so irritating, using trolleys to connect to the BBP is actually a realistic proposal, as is pointed out in an editorial by the Brooklyn Papers. A trolley from Borough Hall to DUMBO and on to Brooklyn Bridge Park (which would also serve the Brooklyn Bridge footpath that right now is an ugly and dangerous entrance) is perfectly reasonable and practicable solution to solving access issues to several wonderful but isolated places.

mt03vano4c.jpgThe hugely talented folks at Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (click to enlarge pics), in collaboration with ARO, have produced some amazing designs for Brooklyn Bridge Park (to read a great article about it by Andrew Blum inbrooklynpiers.jpg Metropolis magazine, click here), and I’m sure people will get there one way or another. But it’s just ridiculous to me that while cities all over the world are managing to build state of the art infrastructure, we can’t even get people from point A to point B using 19th century technology. It’s just mind boggling.

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