If you’ve ever waited for the F or G trains at the Bergen Street subway station, you may have noticed several sets of large, steel doors on the station walls. Utility closets? Not a bad assumption. But what few people know is that those doors lead to one of Brooklyn’s hidden gems, an abandoned lower level of the Bergen Street subway station that sits directly below the active station thousands use every day. Similarly, if you’ve ever waited for a train one stop deeper into Brooklyn, at Carroll Street, you might’ve wondered where those two submerged, middle tracks lead… the answer is to the abandoned lower level of Bergen Street.
In the wee hours of the morning on a blustery night last March, a friend and I descended into the abandoned level of the Bergen Street subway station and we filmed the whole thing. But first, a little history.
From its inception in 1933, the Smith Street and Culver Sections of the IND subway line (now the F and G) were intended to run both express and local trains. With four sets of tracks continuing on the line all the way through Brooklyn to Church Ave (and three sets thereafter), one can imagine how the MTA might set up such an express/local scenario, although they only actually ran it that way for a very brief period between 1968 and 1976. The F ran as an express, gliding through the middle tracks and skipping the Carroll, Smith-9th, and 4th Ave stops, stationing at 7th Ave, then continuing on to skip 15th Street and Fort Hamilton Parkway, stopping at Church, and continuing on making all stops down to Coney Island / Stillwell Avenue. Meanwhile, the G served all local stops between Church and Hoyt-Schermerhorn before continuing on its northward journey through Brooklyn to Queens.
Why won’t the MTA bring this kind of service back? Park Slope and Windsor Terrace residents would undoubtedly appreciate shaving 10-15 minutes off their daily commute.
The upper level of Bergen Street was completely renovated in 1991-1992, and, for reasons unknown, all the tile and other decorative construction were stripped from the lower level at the same time rendering the platforms unsuitable for passenger service. The tracks are still in working order, though; work trains occasionally use the passage (which goes directly to the outer [F] tracks at Jay Street, but also has a switch leading to Hoyt Schermerhorn), and if you’re lucky, you might find yourself passing through it when F trains are overcrowded / behind schedule and are informed by the dispatcher to skip straight from 7th Ave to Jay Street.
Much of this information has been culled from Joseph Brennan’s excellent article on the matter. I encourage you to read more here.
So, back to our adventure. I can’t reveal how we were able to get down into the station, but you can probably figure it out. Do NOT try this at home. Apologies for the dark footage. Soundtrack provided by Deafheaven. Click “Full Screen” and enjoy. Photos below by yours truly.