Bush Terminal Railroad
The Bush Terminal Railroad was built to provide service to Bush Terminal tenants and was a key element of the integration of the facility. Sidings into all buildings from rail arteries running down the avenues allowed materials to be be directly transferred to and from rail cars, eliminating the difficulty and expense of transporting products to and from rail depots by truck at a time when rail transport was the primary mode of conveyance for all but the shortest distances. The railroad was linked to the rest of the country either by float bridges at 51st Street or the LIRR Bay Ridge Line at 65th Street. In its early years, the Bush Terminal took responsibility for rail freight transfer on the rail line, with the tenants only responsibility being to get their items to/from the transfer lobby via the freight elevators in all buildings.
The railyard was located just to the east of the terminal warehouses and occupies the six blocks between 44th and 50th streets. At its peak, the railyard could handle 1,000 cars.
The rail system also included smaller team track yards at 29th, 37th, 39th, 48th and 54th Streets. Such yards are so named because in an era before trucks, teamsters with wagons and teams of horses would come to such yards to load and unload railroad cars.
The New York Cross-Harbor Railroad was formed in 1983 to take over the underused facilities of the Brooklyn Terminal Railroad, Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal and the New York Dock. The facilities later came under the perview of the New York New Jersey Rail, providing rail carfloat connection between Greenville Yard in Jersey City, NJ and the Bush Terminal in Brooklyn.
As I was coming down 52nd Street on my first visit to the area in 2008, I saw a locomotive coming down the avenue but was not close enough to get a photo. Supposedly, such service occurs once a day or so and I did get photos of indentation in the mud around the lightly-used tracks.
Next: Bush Terminal Piers and Float Bridges