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Brooklyn's Culver Shuttle Makes Festive Final Run

Brooklyn's Culver Shuttle Makes Festive Final Run

The New York Times
Monday, May 12, 1975


Dominic Barone, the motorman on the last run of Brooklyn's Culver Shuttle saluted its demise at midnight Saturday by blaring the elevated four-car train's shrill horn all along its short trip above 38th Street in Borough Park.

In the first car, a New Year's Eve atmosphere of anticipation was dominated by a cacophony of accordion and mandolin music, a tape recording of a piercing train whistle, and the dull stock-yard brays from a youth's yard-long plastic horn.

Sentimentalists and subway buffs who delight in riding and photographing dying subway trains filled the car.

Declining ridership is the major factor the Transit Authority cites for the elimination of the mile-long, single-track shuttle, linking the Ninth Avenue stop on the West End BMT line and the Ditmas Avenue station on the McDonald Avenue IND line.

The shuttle was a vestigial of piece of the old Prospect Park and Coney Island Railroad built in the late 19th century by Andrew Culver and operated between 39th Street on the Brooklyn waterfront, City Hall in Manhattan and Coney Island until 1954.

The approximately 1,000 daily riders dependent on it since then will use the B-35 bus, which runs roughly parallel to the shuttle route.

But Saturday night, the Culver's good-bye's came from strangers, most of them teen-agers who read, danced, stared wistfully out windows, ran back and forth between the four cars, or posed for about two dozen picture-taking buffs on the station platform at the Ninth Avenue stop.

One of the photographers was Douglas Grotjahn, a 31 year-old Brooklynite who was at the station all day with his financÚ, Elisabeth Shuman, his tripod-mounted camera and six rolls of film. He took about 200 pictures of the station's tracks, ceiling, broken and sooty wall tiles, and of the shuttle and its last-day riders.

In the last 14 years, he said, he has accumulated in dozens of shoe boxes about 35,000 slides of trolleys and subways that have gone out of business in Chicago, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Boston and Newark.

After the last full run, eastbound to Ditmas Avenue and westbound back to Ninth Avenue, the conductor, Enoch Daniels, snapped the coach windows shut and Mr. Barone, the motorman, drove the four cars out onto the B line for eventual transfer to the RR line.

Everyone lingered for 10 minutes, singing and dancing to a mandolin-accordion quartet. As they did, one slight youth with a long braid down his back stood at the platform's edge, waving slowly and forlornly as he stared at the black tunnel through which the shuttle had just departed.