Coney Island’s trolley poles outline a neighborhood’s history

Original article excerpts courtesy of Forgotten NY:

According to Tricia Vita of the Coney Island blog Amusing the Zillion, trolley service began on Surf Avenue in 1893; service ended on the #36 Surf Avenue line on December 1, 1946. The Coney Island Chamber of Commerce petitioned the City Council to allow the poles to remain, without the catenary wire, so that holiday decorations could be easily run between them on a non-electric wire. And so, the poles have stood sentinel through Coney Island’s wave after wave of changes, its ups and downs, for nearly 120 years.

These trolley poles are almost invisible, save their rust and a few spots of graffiti. What really breathes life back into these metal monstrosities are pictures and illustrations from old Coney when they were utilized to their fullest:

From Stan Fischler, Confessions of a Brooklyn Trolley Dodger

Most modern cities have hidden pasts. We can read about the architecture in history books and see the facades of the past in postcards. History truly comes to life when you take images like the ones above and hit the streets in search of that tangible evidence of another era. Archival materials filling in the gaps- what a novel idea!

Although many of these trolley poles are due to come down due to rust and other degradation, surveys and photo archives like The Coney Island Trolley Utility Poles Flickr page not only document these ‘monuments of transportation history’ but provide a gateway for you, the interested researcher to explore and add for posterity!



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