After nearly three years since plans for the Brooklyn-Queens Connector (BQX) were first announced, the streetcar project may finally have legs. The BQX would span 11 miles from Gowanus to Astoria, serving Downtown Brooklyn, Dumbo, Greenpoint, and Long Island City–not coincidentally, neighborhoods that are experiencing a development boom. While the project still needs to go through an environmental review process and various other approval processes, if all goes well construction would begin in 2024 with a projected 2029 completion date. Yes, yes. This seems like forever from now. But so did Y2K. In the meantime, here is a little history on streetcars between Brooklyn and Queens.
A century ago, the jaunt from Brooklyn to Queens (or vice versa) was commonplace: just hop on the streetcar and you’d be there in no time. But a conspiracy between GM, Standard Oil, and Firestone Tires–all of whom benefited by cars and buses rather than streetcars ruling the roads, bought up all the tracks and ripped them out. For decades, New Yorkers have lamented the painful process of having to go through Manhattan to get to the neighboring borough, and everything from streetcars to increased ferry routes to even a gondola (the East River Skyway) have been discussed. While Skyway supporters may still be holding out hope, the fact that the East River Skyway website is still pitching on the premise of the L Train shutdown leads us to believe that those developers may have returned to their day jobs.