I used to think that this branch was only used for freight service (which continued at least until the 1960's on a very limited basis), but as it turns out, its history is far more complicated than that and there was passenger service on it for several years.
This line was built by the Glendale and East River RR, opened in 1876 and eventually became known as the Greenpoint Division of the NY & Manhattan Beach Railway, which also included the Bay Ridge, Manhattan Beach and Kings County Central branches. Originally, It began at the East River in Greenpoint, with a depot at Oak and West Sts. From there it ran SE along N.15th St. to Richardson St. then turned E along Richardson to Vandervoort Ave. where it turned SE, crossed Metropolitan Ave., Grand St., a portion of Newtown Creek and the South Side RR's Bushwick branch then proceeded E between Wyckoff and Irving Aves. and connected with the Bay Ridge branch at the Cemetery of the Evergreens.
This branch provided passenger service from northern Brooklyn to Manhattan Beach from its opening until 1885. At that time, the Bay Ridge Ridge Branch was connected to the LIRR's LIC branch, and the passenger service switched to LIC, instead. Passenger service was also run on the portion east of the Bushwick branch out of Bushwick Terminal until 1894 (although Bushwick terminal was still used for passenger service until May, 1924 through Fresh Pond).
After 1885, the portion west of the South Side was abandoned. As far as I know, no trace at all exists. As mentioned above, passenger service continued on the Evergreen Branch until 1894, and freight service until the 1960's, on the eastern portion.
Click Here to see Bob Emery's track maps of the Evergreen line.
Stations on the Greenpoint "Evergreen" Line:
Greenpoint - at Oak and West Sts. - Opened 5/15/1878 closed 9/28/1885
Fifth St. (Driggs Ave. today) - Open in 1878 and 1879 only.
Humboldt St. - Between Humboldt and Graham - same operating dates as Greenpoint
Grand St. - Between Metropolitan and Grand - same dates.
South Side RR Crossing - Opened 5/15/1878 closed 5/25/1881. Reopened June, 1886 when service was started out of Bushwick Terminal as a substitute for the Greenpoint abandonment. Closed at end of 1890 season.
Dekalb Ave. (Ridgewood) - Opened 7/14/1878. Station name changed to Ridgewood in June, 1882. Lasted until Bushwick service was shut down in 1894.
Myrtle Ave. - Opened 5/15/1878. Closed May, 1882
Cooper Ave. - Opened 6/2/1883 at the junction of the Greenpoint Division and the new line to LIC. Lasted until Bushwick service was shut down in 1894.
By 1888, on the Brooklyn Geological Survey map, from the NYC Subway Resources website (Caution, the map is over 2.5 megabytes!), the western portion of the line no longer appears.
Here's a current map of the ROW from the Cemetery to Bushwick. The dark line traces the ROW where it no longer appears on the map. ("X" marks where I lived from 1949-1972)
At the present time, much of the ROW has been built over, although it is still fairly easy to follow the ROW from the Cemetery to the Bushwick line.
Below are a couple of pictures taken on Decatur St. between Wyckoff and Irving Aves.
Here's one on Hancock St. showing the still existing RR crossing sign, warning of trains that will never come! There aren't even any rails at this location.
The following picture, from the late 1950's, shows a former freight house at Palmetto St. This small building no longer exists.
Here are some recent pictures, contributed by Pat Cullinan, Jr. from where the Evergreen branch crossed Greene Ave. They've been doing some excavating and uncovering some of the old rails, etc.
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