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  • Writer's pictureLinda A Cowdrick

The Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company

The Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company of Ridgewood, Queens and located at 85 Clinton St was incorporated in 1896 after taking over the Long Island Traction Company, a street railway company, which acquired the Brooklyn Heights Railroad owned by Eliphalet Williams Bliss (1836-1903) and the Brooklyn City Rail Road, which was the oldest and largest operator of streetcars in Brooklyn dating back to 1853.

In 1911, the Prospect Park South Association was encouraged by the BRT's plans to connect Brooklyn with Manhattan, where previous propositions ignored Flatbush and other sections of Brooklyn and Queens.

BRT later sold after the company had gone bankrupt during the summer of 1919 by real estate broker Walter S. Beaver. This seems outrageous since the company was worth over $59 M in gold notes at that time. Regardless, it was reorganized in 1923 and became the Brooklyn-Manhattan transit Corporation (BMT).

A Brooklyn Heights Railroad tower car from 1891.

A Brooklyn City Railroad snowplow from 1891.

Past Presidents of BRT

1898 - Clinton L. Rossiter

1901- Jacob L. Greatsinger (pictured). At the start of his presidency, over 1000 employees were laid off

1903 - E. W. Winter. During his presidency, far to Coney Island was raised to 10 cents, which caused the formation of the Five-Cent Fare League, an association that protested a 5 cents increase in fare. Disorder and rioting ensued through 1906.

1911- Col. Timothy S. Williams. He was acting president and Secretary in 1899 during Rossiter's absence.

Others associated with BRT

In 1900, Charles D. Meneely worked in the bookkeeping department and he reported that year that the company had never paid a dividend to its stockholders. 12 years later, Charles became the Vice-President of BRT.

In 1902, C.E. Roehl was the chief electrical engineer of BRT, who had transferred from the Chicago Railroad.

In 1904 Theodore Mayer was the station attendant at 267 48th Street station who was arrested for shooting William Cuff after Cuff and two other men had knocked him down during an altercation where Mayer was trying to get the men to move on from the station.

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