Apparently the action on Bond Street north of Union Street was a bit too fast: according to some new signage, it’s now a “Neighborhood Slow Zone.” The street got two new signs, anchored into the asphalt by big, plastic containers, and a new set of white paint demarkations that reduce traffic down to one lane from two and impose a 20mph speed limit. Similar signs and demarkations have been installed elsewhere in the neighborhood as well.
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Well, this is certainly annoying. Residents of upper Gowanus who have been forced to walk north to Union Street or south to Third Street to cross the canal in recent weeks are gonna have to get used to wearing out their walking shoes for quite a bit longer; the Carroll Street Bridge is going to be out of commission until at least the end of August.
The project to rehabilitate the dilapidated Culver Viaduct and its Smith-9th Street Station — the highest elevation in the entire subway system and a vital link for residents of Gowanus — is finally nearing completion. Has it really only been two years? It feels like it’s taken forever. The station was originally scheduled to re-open in December 2012.
The MTA swears that the station will finally, really, actually re-open, honest! The F and G trains will begin making regular stops at the station during the week of April 22nd while construction on some final details “that do not affect passenger functionality” will continue. And, more good news: the five extra stops that temporarily extended G train service to Church Ave. because of the Smith-9th Street construction project will remain permanent.
We’ll give the new station a whirl and post some photos as soon as it opens. The art deco ornamentation we’ve seen from passing subway trains is a huge improvement over the downtrodden station of yore.
With all the nondescript auto repair shops that line Third and Fourth Avenues in Gowanus, I couldn’t blame anyone for getting flustered and just picking one at random and ending up with a so-so experience. If you live in Gowanus, Park Slope, Carroll Gardens or anywhere nearby — and you’re the one out of every two Brooklyn households that owns a car — you’ve probably found yourself in just that situation. But if you’re searching for a car mechanic that’s a cut above the rest, your search ends here: New Millenium Motors. Once upon a time I, too, just walked into the shop at random, not knowing any better… and fortunately I got lucky.
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.
The corner of 3rd Street & Bike Lane…
by B. Umanov
Third Street is getting a fancy new green bike lane between Third and Fourth Avenues. The lanes on each side of the two-way street are still under construction as of press date, with orange traffic cones and yellow tape surrounding the newly painted green pathways. The new lanes are “Class 2, Curb Side Lanes” with no buffer lane or parking protection, and will link up directly with the Third Street bike lanes connecting Third Avenue and Smith Street that were painted earlier this summer.
For an explanation of the different kinds of bike lanes in use in New York City, check out the short film below featuring interviews with various NYC DOT employees.