Fulton Ferry Landing preservationists are fuming that construction workers trashed a piece of history at the entrance to Brooklyn Bridge Park — set to open this month — that could have helped create a new trolley service.
Late last year, workers at the end of Old Fulton Street discovered the old rails dating back to the 1920s. But after consulting with archeologists and city landmarks officials, they ripped up the tracks and threw them in the trash.
“No one wants to recognize that this was a transportation hub,” said Richard Mauro, who’s lived in the area for 40 years. “No matter how you look at it the trolley tracks are part of the street’s history. They should not have been removed.”
The tracks, which were covered by asphalt for decades, are a relic of a trolley service on Old Fulton Street that ran from the late 1800s to the 1930s. They were removed from the road as part of a larger sewer and water main reconstruction project.
City officials downplayed the tracks’ significance.
“They are not contributing features to the character of the Fulton Ferry historic district,” said Landmarks spokeswoman Elisabeth de Bourbon.
De Bourbon added that DUMBO is noted for train tracks, not trolley tracks. And, besides, Fulton Ferry Landing’s distinguishing characteristic was the ferry landing, not the old-school mode of transportation that rumbled away from it.
Still, some insist that the old rails are even more valuable because they can be used to reinstate trolley service, an unrealized dream of transit advocates for years.
“The tracks must still have at least 25 years of use in them,” said Bob Diamond, a Brooklyn legend ever since he discovered a long-abandoned trolley tunnel under Atlantic Avenue almost 30 years ago.
“The asphalt is a pretty good preservative. The ones on Old Fulton Street could have been used to restore trolley service in Downtown Brooklyn.”
Recent talk of the elimination of the B25 bus line resurrected concerns of a lack of public transportation to bring people to the highly anticipated new park along the Brooklyn Heights waterfront. The bus line was saved, but the concern is still there.
Many have said that a trolley — that classic symbol of the borough itself — would be a convenient and stylish attraction that would deliver visitors from Downtown to the hard-to-get-to park.
But an architect supervising construction in the area said the tracks in question were not part of a larger infrastructure that could have been of use for a new trolley.
“The tracks were just one section of disassociated tracks. They were removed and there hasn’t been evidence of any more,” said Alyssa Loorya, a head archeologist who surveyed the area for the city.
But a Brooklyn Paper reporter visited the historic street multiple times and saw different tracks being removed over a span of a couple days. A construction worker who was cutting and ripping out the tracks said, “The tracks are all over the place. We have been removing big sections all day.”