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The History and Goals of the BHRA

Tours of the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel

Operating trolleys in Red Hook

The Brooklyn Historic Railway Association (BHRA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to returning trolleys to the streets of Brooklyn, NY. BHRA has 2 decades of experience working with light rail technology and historic trolleys. BHRA draws on its skilled technicians, trained laborers and motivated volunteers in completing all work in-house.

The BHRA museum and trolley barn is located in Red Hook, Brooklyn, on the historic Beard Street Piers (circa 1870). BHRA currently has a fleet of 16 trolleys (15 PCC trolleys and a trolley car from 1897). We currently operate a fully functional trolley line along the historic Red Hook waterfront.

The BHRA's origin began with the rediscovery of the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel by Bob Diamond in 1979. The Atlantic Avenue Tunnel (constructed in 1844) is the world's oldest subway tunnel. The Brooklyn Historic Railway Association (BHRA) was formed in 1982 to restore the historic tunnel. BHRA successfully filed and received designation for the tunnel on the National Register of Historic Places. BHRA continues to maintain and conduct tours and events within the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel.

In the 1980's BHRA obtained donated space in DUMBO and  operated the #3 trolley on the streets of DUMBO

In 1993 BHRA relocated to its current location; obtaining donated space in Red Hook, Brooklyn. In July 1994, the first trolley to run in New York City in 38 years rolled onto its tracks, under its own power on BHRA's trolley line in Red Hook. This event was featured on CBS's 48 Hours.

BHRA applied for and received an ISTEA (TEP II) enhancement grant in 1996 (NYC DOT sponsored the project). This ISTEA enhancement grant provides funding for a .4 mile line along the waterfront. In October 2001, after extensive review by numerous government agencies, the NYC DOT granted the BHRA final approval and consent to construct, maintain and use an electrically operated trolley line on publicly owned city streets. This is the first approval of new surface rail construction in NYC since the 1920s. This track extension is currently in the construction phase.

The long-term objective of the Brooklyn Trolley Project is to extend the line to Downtown Brooklyn. The trolley line will transverse Red Hook, a neighborhood unserved by Subway and the underserved neighborhoods of Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill. The trolley line will continue through the Atlantic Avenue tunnel to the Downtown Brooklyn transportation hub. In Downtown Brooklyn curbside intermodal transfers would be available to the 2,3,4,5,M,N & R (IRT and BMT) lines at the Borough Hall subway station; as well as a multitude of bus lines. Reciprocal transportation agreements (similar to the agreement reached with private bus companies in Queens) would allow for Metrocard service and free passenger transfers to all subways and most bus lines within New York City's regional transportation network.

See the BHRA maps page for additional info on plans and potential trolley routes


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