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Paper says: Bring back our trolleys

The Brooklyn Paper
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The Federal Government’s plan to permanently seize most of Cadman Plaza East so judges and employees of the imperious courthouse there can park for free is wrong.

The feds’ arrogant move, however, gives local officials an opportunity to do something for the benefit the our fledgling tourist industry by demanding a trolley in return for the land.

After 9-11, Cadman Plaza East — the only direct link between Borough Hall and DUMBO — was sealed off to vehicular traffic. At the time, officials said that the federal courthouse on the block between Tillary Street and Red Cross Place needed to be secure (the city’s Office of Emergency Management has since opened its headquarters on the same block).

Even if it will remain a parking lot for judges, Cadman Plaza East could become a much-neded direct link between bustling Downtown and tourist-attracting DUMBO — and that’s where Brooklyn’s trolley should make its triumphant return.

The route would run from Borough Hall (with its tourist office and transit hub) to the city park on the waterfront under the Manhattan Bridge. Along the way, it would pass the State Supreme Court, the main post office, Cadman Plaza Park, and — most important — the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge footpath.

Putting in a trolley — that classic Brooklyn symbol — would not jeopardize courthouse security (indeed, despite the presence of armed guards, pedestrians can currently walk on the closed-off street). But the simple trolley line would energize the entire area, giving tourists something memorable and locals a way of getting from Downtown to the promised future attractions of Brooklyn Bridge Park.

True leadership means that while the feds seize the street, our civic leaders seize the opportunity.

With the federal government asking city permission to permanently close a street, we must counter with a bold proposal for a trolley, a true tourist attraction that generations of Brooklynites — and the tourists who love them — will cherish.

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Reader Feedback

Andrew Porter from Bklyn Heights says:
Ironically, Washington Street (now Cadman Plaza East) was once a major street going from the waterfront to downtown Brooklyn -- and it had a double track streetcar on it which went both ways. The old Brooklyn Eagle Building was located at Johnson Street and Washington, directly across from the Courthouse (now the Federal Bankruptcy Court, the Post Office, etc.). It's likely that the old streetcar tracks are still embedded in the cobblestones underneath the asphalt on most of the street. The streetcar tracks on the block between Tillary and Johnson were torn up and thrown into dumpsters when that block was renovated, however.
July 12, 2008, 9:40 pm
PJ from Williamsburg says:
This would be the best thing to happen in Brooklyn. It would be the rebirth of the trolley dodgers.
July 14, 2008, 10:53 pm
froike from Madison says:
The Trolley was, and still is, the most efficient form of public transportation ever devised. NYC abolished the Light Rail/Trolley System and Electric Buses, in the 50's.
From my understanding, GM bought out all the Trolley Carriage manufacturing companies and began to produce the inefficient, polluting, and costly Diesel Bus!
I contend the NYC should rebuild the light rail system. If enough New Yorkers use the light rail...we could clean up the air, diminish car traffic, and bring back an old NY Tradition!
Sept. 11, 2009, 8:03 am

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