Abandoned Stations by Joseph Brennan. Copyright 2001, 2002.

Bergen St lower level

Bergen St lower level

Passenger service: July 1968 - August 1976, and during work reroutes 1933-1990.

Existing abandoned portions: 2 platforms (on 2 tracks not in regular service).

Touring: F G trains to Bergen St. There's nothing much to see, unless the shiny metal doors to the stairs down are open. Occasionally trains are routed through the lower level, passing the platforms.

construction and operation

The Independent subway route from Jay St to Church Ave was one of the first opened, in March 1933, six months after the main line on 8 Ave. Curiously, this branch has never had a commonly agreed name, but is sometimes called the Smith St line. Once it was extended to the former BMT Culver line in 1954, it was known for a time as the Coney Island line. At any rate, it was planned to be a main line to one or more branches in southern Brooklyn, so it was built with four tracks along the lines of the Queens Boulevard line, with the express tracks lined up to Manhattan and the local tracks lined up to the Brooklyn-Queens Crosstown line

Possibly because it went only to Church Ave for 21 years, a full express and local service was not operated. Instead the Manhattan trains (variously the A E D F at different times) ran local to the end at Church Ave, and the Crosstown GG ended, as it still does, at the awkward location of Smith-9 St, solely because the switches near 4 Ave provide the only place to reverse short of Church Ave.

Once the line went all the way to Coney Island, it would probably have been time to apply the Queens Boulevard model to avoid a long local run, but it was not done, whether because of light traffic or entrenched passenger and operating expectations, it is hard to say. D and then F trains continued the long drag and GG continued to turn short.

In the spirit of new routes following the Chrystie St BMT-IND link in 1967, the Transit Authority's second wave of reroutings in July 1968 included finally extension of the GG local to Church Ave and express F service to that point, in rush hours.

Bergen St lower level and the tracks through it were all built 35 years earlier, and the lower level had probably been used from time to time when track work closed one of the upper level tracks, but it had never had regular train service. Nonetheless the lower level was open on this occasional basis.

The express F service caused a lot of grumbling from riders in the segment left with only GG trains. If Bergen St had been on one level it might have been a little better, but with stairs to climb, the daily commute took its toll. The two levels had been necessitated both by the narrowness of Smith St and the junction occurring just north of the station. When the budget crunch of 1976 necessitated some service cuts, the combination of rider complaints and relatively light patronage led to the restoration of the older service pattern. The reaction of passengers from out on the Culver line to the slower service is less well known.

The upper level was totally renovated in 1991-1992. The original tile was covered, and the former open stairways to the lower level, which made it obvious there was more to the station, had solid doors put on, which makes it not obvious at all. Reportedly the work damaged the lower level rendering it unusable for passenger service. For one thing, all the tile was removed, for reasons unknown.

A fire in the nearby signal room in March 1999 took out control of the switches for the ramp north of Bergen St. For a time, F trains ran via the lower level, but because of the renovation damage they could not make a stop at Bergen St.

Passenger trains still sometimes run through the lower level, without stopping. Sometimes when the main track is congested, a southbound F train will be routed that way, with an announcement made at Jay St that the next stop is 7 Ave. More predictably, if track work is planned with trains skipping stations between Jay St and Seventh Ave, either direction, trains will be running past the closed platforms.


The diagram shows the lower level track through Bergen St, and how it runs straight to Jay St. The upper level tracks go to the turn into the center pair at Hoyt-Schermerhorn Sts. The F train uses the ramps north of Bergen St to cross between the main tracks.

The lower level runs upgrade in Carroll St station to meet the grade of the upper level tracks, and then all four run upgrade to the surface and onto an elevated structure.

Each open platform has two pairs of doors to the lower level, one pair near the Bergen St entrance at the north end, and one pair near the center of the platform. Near the Bergen St entrance, the doors on the outbound side, above, are right next to the turnstiles. Right across the tracks on the inbound side, below, light can be seen shining between and under the doors, showing that behind them is not a closet as it may seem but rather a stairway leading down to another station level the size of the open one.

Down below, the stairway comes out through a far less impressive door. The photo above looks across to the southbound platform, the opposite way from the photo on the open platform. Below is a view along the northbound platform back toward Carroll St. The tile is gone, but the columns still have their BERG'N signs in classic Independent subway style.

Both: Courtesy of C. R. Carey, M. Kasten, and M. A. Schodorf. Copyright 2002.

A photo taken on a fan trip in 1975 shows the tile still in place.

Doug Grotjahn, Joe Testagrose collection. From the Bergen St page at the New York Subway Resources site.

The Transit Authority's map of 1969 shows the GG service to Church Ave as a dashed line, rush hours only. Nothing actually shows Bergen St open on two levels, but that is how it was done.

Station names in red are supposed to show express stations, or that is, stations where all trains stop on routes with both express and local service. The red name is subtle. The eye tends instead to look for a clue in the station rectangle, whereas these stations show the identical "F" over "GG" notation.

The red "T" in a circle indicates transfers, but it is not used consistently. It's not used at either end of the Culver shuttle (bottom edge of this detail) or at Prospect Park (right side).

The redesigned Transit Authority map of 1974 depicts the same service. This map did not use dashed lines to indicate parttime service, and its use of boldface instead of red to indicate express stations (by the same definition) is even more subtle.

The express service did not survive to the next generation map.

The strip maps of the F and GG services, from the reverse of the 1969 Transit Authority map, provide details of the train service. In addition to the special express via Bergen St lower level, some F trains ran express in the main direction out on the Culver line. Read carefuSty. (An upper part of each strip is omitted.)

Photos of Bergen St station, upper level, can be found on the New York Subway Resources site, http://www.nycsubway.org.

Abandoned Stations