Sunday, April 13, 2014

Rail Service to Eastern Park, Brooklyn

 The Brooklyn "Trolley Dodgers," Eastern Park
and Rail Service to Eastern Park in 1893

Many sources have suggested that the Brooklyn "Trolley Dodgers" earned their nickname in 1891, when the Brooklyn baseball team moved to a new stadium, Eastern Park.  Eastern Park, it is presumed, was surrounded by several trolley lines that fans would have to "dodge" on their way to games.

The origin myth, however, is just a myth.  Although the name "trolley dodger" does come from dodging trolleys in Brooklyn (as discussed in my earlier post), it relates to the trolley conditions in Brooklyn, generally, not to trolley lines at the stadium, in particular.  The name was also not used until 1895.

There are two reasons that "trolley dodger" would not have been used in 1891:

First, there was no reason to "dodge" trolleys in 1891 becasue all of the trolleys in Brooklyn were horse-drawn trolleys; no dodging necessary. 

Second, Brooklyn's extensive trolley system did not serve Eastern Park in 1891; fans reached the stadium by the Kings County Elevated Railway, or walked about a quarter of a mile from a stop on a line (most likely the Broadway line, which terminated at Broadway and Van Siclen) operated by the Brooklyn and Union Elevated Railroad Company.

The Citizen Guide to Brooklyn and Long Island (R. Wayne Wilson and Company,1893) includes maps and descriptions of the surface trolleys and elevated railroad lines in Brooklyn in 1893.  It also includes instructions on how to reach the stadium by public transit: 

To reach the professional ball grounds at East New York the nearest route is by the Kings County Elevated Railway from Fulton Ferry and the Bridge, the Union Elevated roads taking passengers from the Eastern District to East New York, but not within a quarter mile walk of the grounds, while the Kings County road runs to the grounds direct.  The time to Eastern Park by special trains from the Bridge on match days is twenty-five minutes, fare five cents.

 A map of the surface railroad system (trolleys), shows that there were no trolley lines running directly to Eastern Park in 1893:

Eastern Park was bounded by what are now Pitkin Avenue (or Industrial Park Road) to the north and Sutter Avenue to the south, as well as by Powell Street to the west and Van Sinderen Avenue to the east.  On the surface railroad map above, Eastern Park was located just below where the reference line between 7 and 8 meets the reference line between E and F. 

The only trolley line near Eastern Park was the Fulton Street line, which ran along Fulton Street, several blocks north of the stadium, diagonally from west-northwest to east-southeast, to Broadway, where it turned to the south on what appears to be Williams, Alabama or Georgia, all of which are located several blocks east of the stadium.  Fans approaching the stadium did not have to cross any trolley lines to get to the game.


  1. Dear Peter,
    Thanks for the informative blog about Eastern Park. My only question is regards to the transportation services and the topology of the park available at that time period. The area today consists of bridges which cross over and open cut which housed the LIRR Bay Ridge Line. This line existed during the time of Eastern Park. This was the line which ran parallel to the eastern side of the park. However, it is possible the park rested in that area(between Pitkin and Powell streets) before the Bay Ridge line grade elimination project started. However, the recorded records does not spell this out. However, a visit to the area today bares this out as the open cut still exists for several miles south towards Canarsie. The Fulton El could not have been the elevated line in the direction of the park as the Fulton El was not established during the time period Eastern Park was standing. What is needed is any records about the Topology of the area during the 1880's. Was the park on grade or located in the open cut of the Bay Ridge/Manhattan Beach branch of the LIRR?

    1. As for the "Fulton El," if it is the same line as the "Kings County Elevated Railway from Fulton Ferry and the Bridge", then it did exist in 1893, when the guidebook published directions to Eastern Park. The bill to permit construction was passed in 1879. I've seen numerous pre-1891 newspaper notices referencing businesses and real estate along the elevated line along Fulton and Van Sinderen streets.

    2. As I understand it, the ballpark filled the entire area bounded by Van Sinderen, Pritkin, Sutter and Powell. A diagram of the orientation of the bases and grandstands can be seen on Heritage Uniforms and Jerseys website at