I joined the New York Transit Museum this year so that I could go on some of their members only tours of some real cool transit places. Today I toured one of those places, the old Essex/Delancey trolley terminal from the Williamsburg Bridge. Trolleys from Brooklyn came across the Williamsburg Bridge to Manhattan and then turned around in this terminal. Trolleys in Brooklyn were evidently on a different rail system type and thus couldn’t continue onto the Manhattan rails. I won’t try to give the history, as so many places can be found, which do it much better, such as this one. The terminal is right next to the Delancey and Essex subway stations and can be seen from part of the platform. Inside the terminal area, some of the old tracks, paver stones, and rails can be seen. While I found those interesting, I also just loved being able to walk in a behind-the-scenes area that the general public usually can’t access.
Another thing I found interesting was the condition of the columns and beams. Like almost all parts of the New York underground, the area is continual being eroded by water that seeps in from groundwater and storm water that flows through various cracks in the utility areas. Thus much of the metal support structures were badly rusted. Some parts of the area have been rehabbed but not all. It was a stark reminder of how continual maintenance is needed on essentially everything humans build. If you are not an engineer, you can be forgiven for not understanding that once something is built, it still needs maintenance. It can’t just simply be left to itself to continually function properly for all eternity. Unfortunately most politicians, who hold the purse strings to maintenance funding, don’t seem to understand this.
There is an idea or plan by some to turn the area into an underground park called the Lowline. It would be incredibly interesting to see that if it happens. In the meantime, I’m glad I got a look at this piece of New York’s transportation history.