Tuesday, April 13, 2010

194 Avenue A and Trolley Cars

In light of the fact that the potential new owner of the establishment that may occupy 194 Avenue A (formerly The Raven and aka 501 E 12th St.) has decided to send his application to the State Liquor Authority without first coming before the Community Board as is usual and customary, I thought I would try to find a little history and see what other nefarious activities I could uncover at this spot located on Avenue A and 12th Street.

But what I found was much more interesting: Avenue A used to have a cable or trolley car running down it. I know this because two children of a saloon keeper at 194 Avenue A were killed by a speeding motorman in 1906. According to the article the car was from 14th Street and heading toward Williamsburg. The precursor to the L train!

(Side note: What I like most about that article how it calls one of the men attempting to attack the murderer "an Italian" several times throughout, sounding more like an epithet than a description.)

The Williamsburg bridge opened in 1904 and very shortly thereafter the trolley line was in place to connect commuters to and from Brooklyn.

Also in 1906 a woman died on the trolley car while it was in front of 224 Avenue A. This article also reveals that there were "car barns" at 14th Street and Avenue B, as well as a lot of fainting by the girls accompanying the grandmother. Why don't girls faint any more during stress?

There is (or was?) a group called the Village Crosstown Trolley Coalition that has proposed a plan to revive the crosstown trolley with a light rail across 8th Street, connecting east and west, basically following the path of the current M8 bus.

In this 1936 photo of First Houses housing development on 3rd Street and Avenue A, you can see the trolley tracks on Avenue A.

(Source: NYCHA)


Goggla said...

I blame corsets for the fainting. It seems these days the only fainting happens on the subway platforms.

Jill said...

A writer should wear a corset for a year, see how many times she faints, and then blog about it.

Larry Slade said...

Thanks Jill. I didn't know about the Ave A trolley.

Anonymous said...

Just fascinating, Jill...so much history! Thanks for doing the research and reporting for us.

EV Grieve said...

A trolley would be handy on A today to go from bar to bar. Patrons can just throw up over the side.