Mapping “Unknown” Brooklyn

Late last week Flavor Wire ventured into “Unknown Brooklyn,” which, as Sheepshead Bites put it, is “almost exclusively Southern Brooklyn.” There are some great photos of Sea Gate, Bush Terminal, Calvert Vaux Park, Floyd Bennet Field and the mansions of Mill Basin. News to us was the existence of abandoned Long Island Railroad tracks in Midwood, pictured above. The line actually runs from Bay Ridge through a big part of the borough all the way into Queens. Do readers have any favorite “unknown” spots that the essay doesn’t mention?
Photo Essay: Unknown Brooklyn [Flavor Wire]
Photo by Dave Mandl via Flavor Wire

25 Comment

  • Thanks for reminding us that it’s a big borough.

    I thought that line through Bay Ridge was occasionally used for freight. Also, I believe that the first house in the Mill Basin section is the Turano Brothers house (or former house):

  • Its unfortunate that this is “unknown” Brooklyn…this is really The Real Brooklyn, its non commercialized and an untapped source for culture and awesome food. People in southern BK are like my user named Born Raised and Residing in BK for the most part or are immigrants from Eastern Europe, The Middle East Etc. How about The Salt Marsh Nature Center in Marine Park, its as close as you’ll get to the wilderness in Brooklyn, Pheasents, Cotton Tail Rabbits, all types of water foul, great fishing etc etc…Hendrick I Lott House on East 36th St between Fillmore Ave and Ave S was a stop on the underground railroad and a George Washington slept there. Behind Marine Park golf course there are HUGE old hulls of ships, old street lamps and street signs from old brooklyn. Floyd Bennet field is awesome, lots of famous aviators flew out of there from Lindbergh to Earhart to Howard Hughes. Its only a 20 minute train ride, or if you want to bike it its easy.

    • “The Salt Marsh Nature Center in Marine Park, its as close as you’ll get to the wilderness in Brooklyn”

      Salt Marsh is wonderful, but most people don’t realize that most of the FAR larger Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is in Brooklyn, even though the entrance is off of Cross Bay Blvd. in Queens.

    • Sssshhhhh! It’s real Brooklyn because it’s unknown. Please, let’s keep it that way.

      • My Badddddd lol…just erks me when I read things like “Unknown Brooklyn” lol…its the only Brooklyn I know…its “unknown” to newbies in Brooklyn. Happy that its untouched by hipsters but Brooklyn isnt just Park Slope, Williamsburg and Fort Greene…its a lot more. I have a lot of pride being born and raised here and I want people to know what its really about.

  • The old LIRR track is used for freight several times weekly and is an imporetant component of the proposed Cross Harbor tunnel which would use the track to connect to Long Island via Maspeth. Mayor Lindsay prposerd that a cross Brooklyn highway be built over the tracks.

  • It was essentially a linear park for all the kids growing up in my neighborhood of East Flatbush in the 1970’s. We could hang out down there without being observed by adults – and pretty much do whatever we pleased – including blowing up paint cans with M80s, smoking pot, reading dirty magazines and making fires. We’d scrounge for old lumber to build skateboard ramps at the end of East 37th Street – which dead ended because of “The Tracks” as they were called by everyone and probably still are. And those trestles (particularly the Brooklyn Avenue one) were nice and dry on a rainy day. The Tracks were kind of like the wild west. They had a reputation for being dangerous – and certainly were in some regards. Kids would hop on the moving freight trains and one neighborhood kid famously had his foot cut off in a failed attempt. Other than that though I don’t reacall anything really bad happing down there – but who knows what went on at night? A friend of mine lived in the last house before the cut and somehow befriended one of the freight train drivers. Maybe his father knew him or something. The driver would stop the train and let my friend get on and he’d take him all the way to the end of the line in Sunset Park. I went with him once – which was pretty cool. Not much to see but a lot of junk and garbage (including a discarded wooden leg) but it was cool to see what was that far down the tracks. We’d also take walks along the tracks in the other direction – but usually turn back at about Troy Avenue – where there were rumored to be wild dogs that had escaped from the adjacent junk yards.

  • “Do readers have any favorite “unknown” spots that the essay doesn’t mention?”


    Sure. But if I tell you guys, then they’ll no longer be “unknown.” Nothing doing.

  • ” all types of water foul”
    This doth also in the Gowanus be.

  • The junk drawer in my kitchen holds a trove of unknown treasures.

  • Here’s a link to another series of photos that a friend of mine shot walking along the Old Atlantic Railway:

  • Calvert Vaux park has been re-done and has soccer fields, new trees, benches and all the stuff that goes with a park. it is fun to bicycle around, as i live nearby.

    The park however does not go waterfront as of yet, hopefully soon.

    BJ’s is also being built in the area.

    If you cut thru the wooded are there are old bicycle trails that do lead to the water front, I rode them last year, so much fun making discoveries.

    Brooklyn is the best borough in the world to make discoveries….

    From Red Hook to Gravesend, so much to see and discover.

  • if you didn’t know about this rail line then you must have never driven south on Ocean Parkway, Coney Island Ave. and Ocean Ave. because they all have a hump going over the trench where this line exists. also, they aren’t LIRR tracks. It was a freight line that connected to the barges bringing in freight along the Brooklyn waterfront.

    • They were freight lines, currently a portion of that line is owned and controlled by the NY & Atlantic, the remainder is owned and controlled by the LIRR. My understanding is that the Bay Ridge branch (NY&A) runs from 65th Street out to East NY, through to Ridgewood and connects to LIRR assets out near the Brooklyn/Queens border.

  • Calvert Vaux park is my favorite place in Brooklyn. I found it poking around on my bike looking for a connection from Bath Beach to Coney Island and fell in love immediately. No cars, no people, just birds and insects. I haven’t been there since they completed the work so maybe it’s changed, but for a few years that was my favorite spot in the world –

  • I remember as a kid living during the 1950’s in Brownsville two blocks from that train line. In those days their was many factories and businesses in Brooklyn. That freight line was very busy, with freight trains comprised of dozens of cars. Factories and business adjacent to the tracks had sidings, where fright cars were unloaded, sparing the streets of truck traffic.

    • If Brooklyn wasn’t full of NIMBY’s we could be running freight through Brooklyn again, using the valuable existing rail and waterfront infrastructure in Sunset Park to move large quantities of goods into our borough and then distribute them in smaller trucks getting the large 40 & 53 foot behemoths off local streets. Instead, we are turning these irreplaceable assets into parks and recreational space and turning truck routes into “the Park Avenue of Brooklyn”, guaranteeing that it will be harder and harder to get food, fuel and necessities into our borough by any means other than tractor trailers.

  • The tracks actually were built for passenger service, which ended in 1924.