Gary Owen’s S.I.R.T. South Beach Line Page
Ok. So you are wondering what this page is about? I’ve
always been a bit of a rail fan. One of my favorite pastimes is to follow
defunct railroad beds. Strange? Probably, but I find
it fascinating, so that’s that. Whenever our family would drive through the
So let’s see what we have.
, there were three SIRT passenger lines:
(still in use)
At the St. George terminus, each line had it’s own
respective set of tracks. The South Beach line used tracks 1 through 4, whereas
5 through 9 were used for trains to Tottenville and
tracks 10 through 12 for Arlington / Port Ivory. We can blame the smelly bus
companies and their reduced fares for the closing of both the
I asked S.I.R.T. enthusiast Ed Bommer
how the public reacted to the closing of both the
The close of service was well advertised in advance. SIRT trains
had printed notices about the discontinuance pasted on car windows and at
stations from January 1, 1953. The
The following AM, SIRT maintenance crews chained off all the station entrances and locked the waiting rooms. They later put steel fences across the station steps and entries, then removed the station signs.
Train rider ship on those sub-divisions had been low since WW II
ended, except for the AM and PM rush hours. I can remember being the
only mid-day passenger between Port
Bus fare at the time was 7 cents. That was cheaper than the train fare at 10 cents. Also back then, a bus ride was reasonably quick, although not as fast as the train. A lot less traffic on Island streets back then. Nobody seemed to complain much about the loss of train service.
But it did seem odd to me because the City was just
finishing a huge, new low income housing project at
To sort of push along the end of the SIRT’s north and east shore services, the City expanded the Island's bus fleet and also the frequency of service on certain routes that paralleled the SIRT.
The above article from the Staten Island Advance reads:
IslandAdvance Tuesday, March 31, 1953
The Old Order Passeth - Rails Surrender To Roads
Once there were many cars on the trains- but that was years ago-
and now there are many cars in the ferry terminal parking lot.
Buses and autos will kill off the SIRT's
and North Shore lines South Beach
in a cloud of monoxide tonight at ,
when the railroad ends service on those runs in the face
of a steadily mounting loss in passenger traffic.
Passenger Runs On Two Lines Of SIRT Will End At –
Buses are added on North, East shores:
Sixty seven years of rapid transit on the island's
north and east shores will come to an end at tonight.
The SIRT, in conformity with a ruling from the
Public Service Commission, will suspend it's passenger service to
South Beach and Arlington, retaining only it's south shore branch to Tottenville.
City buses are in readiness to fill the gap.
Thirteen extra vehicles have been added to the
terrace and Richmond Bay streetroutes during rush hours
to carry an estimated 1,200 commuters who no longer can use the railroad.
The last train to
will leave St. George Arlington
at arriving at the railroad yard 16 minutes later.
At , the final passenger train to travel over north shore track
will leave the
terminal for St. George pulling in at . Arlington
On the east shore, the last train will get underway from St. George at ,
rolling into the
Wentworth Avenuestation, at . South Beach
Nine minutes later it will start the final trip to St. George,
arriving five minutes before .
The curtailment of passenger service will mean a loss of jobs
to more than 40 SIRT employees. Stations on the two lines
will be closed down and probably razed eventually.
The inauguration of extra
and North Shore SouthBeach
bus service will bring Sidney H. Bingham, chairman of
the Board Of Transportation, to St. George early tomorrow morning.
He will check incoming rush-hour buses at the ferry terminal
to determine if service is adequate.
Want to see an actual S.I.R.T. employee Time Table from 1921 and 1922? Click on this link and then click on the image for enlargement:
a north and east shore time table from
make what could easily become a ridiculously long story short, I wanted to
create this page to showcase some photographs of the
Let’s step onboard and check it out!
Clifton Junction (1.7 miles) is located just off
Bay Street near Willow Avenue.
Here are two almost identical views of Clifton junction.
The first photo was taken circa 1940 and
the second sometime during the late 1940’s- early ‘50’s. At first, I
believed that the track leading off to the left was the
begins just behind the oncoming trains. The main
Tottenville line veers off to the
Facing east, a single SIRT train at
Another easterly view of
from the back of a
And again but a little bit further…
At left is the abandoned
Just beyond Clifton Junction and a view of the
overhead walk at
This was actually the setting for the first station
Photograph taken from
The same scene sixteen years later. It
shows a single car approaching
taken on the last day of service:
An undated aerial view of the area near Clifton Junction.
The SIRT South Beach ROW can be seen at the upper right.
we have a 1991 aerial view of
were still there as well.
Here’s the same aerial view around 2003.
A view of Clifton Junction and the
A view of a passing train on the main line
from the abandoned
we see the abandoned
I took these next few photos at
We are now pulling into the
first station on the
The Bachmann’s (or “Bachman’s”) station was located between Lynhurst And Chestnut Avenues (2.0 miles).
much information on this one but we do know that the Bachmann station was built
for the convenience of the employees of Bachmann’s Brewery. At the time, the
South Beach ROW had not been built so it was merely a spur which took employees
to the brewery itself. This establishment burned down on
According to the 1921-22 SIRT time table listed earlier,
the station remained in service.
Since the brewery was long gone- and the next stop but a mere tenth of a mile distant- when the SIRT eliminated grade crossings, the Bachmann’s Brewery station became redundant.
By late 1937, it was abandoned and razed.
The Bachmann station on
photo was taken facing Clifton Junction from the
This overpass was used until the line
closed at on
(Also see “Clifton Junction” photos).
A view of the old wooden Bachmann station from atop the
Ansbacher - Siegle Plant in January, 1937.
The Chestnut avenue overpass is under construction.
A few months later. Chestnut avenue overpass is complete and
the Bachmann station is still in use. Photo taken mid-1937.
workers constructing a barricade wall at
Facing towards St. George in September, 1937.
Construction continues with the doomed Bachmann station
barely visible just below and beyond the
Just a tenth of mile distant and we pull into….
Rosebank station was located along
between Virginia and St. Mary’s Avenues (2.1 miles).
St Mary’s Avenue grade crossing and the original wooden
station at the extreme right (
A view to the south from the Chestnut Avenue bridge.
The Rosebank station is just ahead.
is a 1913 view from the original wooden Rosebank
station facing toward
During the grade crossing elimination of the mid-1930’s,
the S.I.R.T. replaced this structure with a new one.
It stood in place after the line closed and was razed around 1999.
The house on the left still stands today.
we are standing beyond the
just past the bridge with the Ansbacher- Siegle
plant beyond it. The plant was razed in 2010.
Two views of the original Rosebank station
grade crossing elimination began.
Putting on the finishing touches on the
“new and improved” Rosebank station (September, 1937).
Rosebank station on
A St. George bound train approaches
the Rosebank station in 1952. Photo taken from the
The same scene around 1964.
The dead Rosebank station in the early 1960’s.
Fellow Staten Islander/musician and S.I.R.T. fan Rob Ross contemplates the ruins of the Rosebank station in 1987.
The other side of the abandoned
Rosebank station facing Clifton Junction in 1987.
the distance we can see the
and the chimney of the Ansbacher- Siegle plant.
The demolition of the
The house in the earlier photo stands to the left.
The Rosebank station is out of view beyond the ROW on left.
The view in September, 2004.
a pedestrian underpass “subway” which ran beneath the tracks. Here
it is while under construction on
The finished “pedestrian subway”. The two structures
behind it are the original Public School 13.
By 1981, both were replaced with one building
which now stands directly on the South Beach ROW. Makes me ill.
Students leaving P.S. 13 and on their way through
is Pennsylvania avenue in Rosebank. Photo taken
The original P.S. 13 stands to the left.
In the background stands the tall chimney and the house
from some of the previous photos.
There’s also two stanchions of a future
The large telephone/telegraph pole towards
the right center of the photo indicates
All those dirt roads back then! Sheesh!
Three candid shots of the trestle at
John’s Avenue on
Travel ahead some seventy five years- and we find a
piece of what once was- the lonely
This is all that remains of the trestle.1936 was one of the years
in which the S.I.R.T. spent elevating and depressing the entire system. The stanchion pretty much stands in someone’s backyard and they’ve even added a nice little white fence to perk it up a bit.
I’d love to perform a gig on top of that thing!
In late December 2007, there was a “For Sale” sign
standing directly in front of the stanchion. Woah is me…..
February 2008: the “For Sale” sign is gone
as is the little white fence. With that,
I figured I’d better get myself in gear….
of January, 2013, the
stanchion still stands. Let’s hope it lives long and prospers!
As the sojourn continues, we find ourselves arriving at….
(2.5 miles). This was an intermediate stop that also served the
US Quarantine Service, which was about one block east.
The following two photos show us that
the original wooden
was a serene place to be on August 31, 1934.
A glimpse down the tracks at the old wooden
Approaching both the
Ladies and gentleman! I give you the
‘new and improved’
Standing on the St. George bound platform
not-so ‘new and improved’
now resides in a railroad museum in
Down the line we go and up ahead we see…
A steam engine stops at the Fort Wadsworth station in 1923. Photo taken two years before the S.I.R.T. electrified all three lines and more than a decade before grade crossing elimination began.
construction of the
This was during grade crossing elimination.
The original Fingerboard road bridge on
The “new and improved” Fingerboard road bridge with the unfinished
S.I.R.T. workers placing the support piers
Photo taken from the
east bound towards
During grade crossing elimination.
Photo taken June, 1935.
after grade crossing elimination began in May, 1935.
The large building on top of the hill is St. John’s Villa Academy.
Same place but with construction of
Grade crossing elimination. May, 1936
August, 1936. All done!
I remember seeing that coal silo
back at the
from a temporary walkway over the tracks.
view of a
stopped at the
Photo taken from the
stairs lead up to the
Photo taken a few months before
the line was abandoned.
I’ve gigged in that tall building.
Two views of the dead
a shot of the
taken from Fingerboard road around 1999.
was where the
The powers that be were clearing the way
for the housing that stands there today.
The view in September, 2004.
Notice the cut through the trees in the background.
This indicates the original ROW.
a cool shot that I took from beneath the
shaped house that marks the path as well.
If you look beyond the house, you can just make out
the Lily Pond Avenue overpass which lines up perfectly with the ROW .
been told this ‘wide’ overpass was built ‘just in case’ the S.I.R.T. were to reactivate the
The Tompkins Avenue Bridge today.
This is actually a newer and wider bridge built in the 1980’s -1990’s.
may have replaced the original crumbling overpass but it still proudly spans a short
remnant of the
St. George bound train approaches the
beyond this point is where the
To continue the journey, click on the link below.