Finally, Someone Explains Why Getting from Brooklyn to Queens is the Absolute Worst

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Photo Credit: edogisgod via Compfight cc
If I want to visit my 81-year-old grandmother in Forest Hills, Queens, from my place in Bushwick, Brooklyn, Google Maps tells me I'm approximately five miles away. What Google Maps doesn't tell me is that in order to get there I will have to fight five krakens in a moat, machete through 18 miles of poison-tipped brambles, and defeat Lord Voldemort.

Really, I just have to take the F train. But folks who want to get from Brooklyn to this part of Queens have to take the train through Manhattan and back to Queens. It would be faster to walk to Forest Hills from where I live. Backward.

Until today, I had never understood why. Luckily, Richard Greenwald, a sociology professor at St. Joseph's College, has broken down the phenomenon in Atlantic Cities. It turns out that Queens and Brooklyn didn't always used to be so disconnected--in the '30s and '40s, trolleys between the boroughs were all the rage.

Then came along a corporate monopolization conspiracy and ruined it for everyone:

The demise of the trolleys in the late 1930s and '40s seems to be largely responsible for disconnecting the two sister boroughs. Yes, they were replaced by buses, but buses have never--for a number of reasons--been able to cement the connection the way trolleys seemed to. Starting in the 1920s, a company called National City Lines started buying up street car lines, then mostly privately owned. In 1936, the company became a holding company owned equally by General Motors, Firestone Tire, Standard Oil of California, and Phillips Petroleum. Perhaps you can guess where this is going. NCL bought up trolley systems in over 40 cities and 15 states, converting them almost overnight into bus lines. In 1947, they were indicted in federal court, in what became known as the "Great American Streetcar Scandal." Two years later, the four original companies who owned NCL, along with MAC Truck, were found guilty of conspiracy to monopolize mass transit. But by then the damage was done. Most of the nation's streetcar system was in junkyards, replaced by buses.

Greenwald goes on to explain that buses never filled the transit void the old trolleys left behind. Instead, buses took Brooklynites to the trains, which took them to Manhattan.

Sorry, grandma. I guess I'll just look into rollerblades.

(h/t Atlantic Cities)

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10 comments
ctgodfather
ctgodfather

What is new?   It took forever to get to Brooklyn from Jackson Heights back in the 50s!

tonydurke
tonydurke

Funny how all the comments in this section have completely missed the point about the transit systems getting dismantled by big oil and big car companies. Instead, everyone had to get in their snide little remarks and/or prove how smart they are by sharing their unequivocal knowledge about the transit system.


OverCat
OverCat

Bushwick to Forest Hills? You take the J train to Sutphin Blvd. in Jamaica then switch for the E train to Forest Hills. Cute story, but obviously a baloney sandwich.

Nina Maxwell
Nina Maxwell

One reason why I NEVER go to queens.... simply cant get there nor could I ever get home!

Manuel Ferreiro
Manuel Ferreiro

Its a mess, the options are none less than 45 minutes in transit, without counting waiting time. Some parts of New York, public transportation options and schedulles are still stuck in the 1960's!!!

George Krzewski
George Krzewski

I'm thinking best way to get from Bushwick to FH is take Q59 from Grand St to Q. Blvd and either transfer to Q60 or take one of the local trains eastbound. You're still probably looking at an hour in transit... F train from Forest Hill 71st St Continental Ave to Coney Island takes an hour and a half, normally...

Aurel Savin
Aurel Savin

Hmm. There is a bus on Metropolitan Ave that is minutes from Bushwick and that goes straight to 71 Ave in Forest Hills in about 30-40 minutes.

Beverly Williams
Beverly Williams

The F train runs through Manhattan before it gets to Brooklyn. It really doesn't take that long on a "normal" day.

Heidi Speciale
Heidi Speciale

forest hills to bay ridge - at least an hour and a half and thats with jumping on two express trains

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