Abandoned trolley cars, the site of the largest Revolutionary War battle, and a Captain America statue inside a department store are just a few of the quirky and hidden places featured in the new, 3rd edition of Secret Brooklyn: An Unusual Guide. Created by Untapped New York’s founder Michelle Young and CEO Augustin Pasquet, this guidebook contains more than 100 weird and wonderful sites spread throughout the borough. Inside, you’ll also find interviews with New York City characters like the artist Tom Fruin (whose iconic water tower graces the cover!). Within the pages of this handy guide, written for New Yorkers and tourists alike, you’ll uncover one of the first free African American settlements in New York City, a former military cemetery turned public park, wild parrots, remnants of a lost railroad tunnel you can get a drink in, and so much more. Here, we take a sneak peek at 5 new sites excerpted from the new edition of Secret Brooklyn, which you can order now. Get an autographed copy and free shipping when you use the promo code “BROOKLYN” at checkout in the Untapped New York shop!
1. Abandoned Red Hook Trolleys
On the Red Hook waterfront, tucked behind Food Bazaar supermarket and the Beard Street warehouses is the last remnant of a bold experiment to bring back trolleys to Brooklyn. From the 1990s to the 2000s, the Brooklyn Historic Railway Association (BHRA) worked with the NYC DOT to extend the trolley line into Red Hook. For a period of time, a one-mile loop of trolley track went from the warehouses into the Red Hook neighborhood along Conover Street and Van Brunt Street. The pilot was short-lived however, with the city determining that trolleys were not the best option for improving transit access in Red Hook.
The rail tracks were quickly removed thereafter in road repaving in 2004 and BHRA co-founder Bob Diamond lost access to the warehouse the Association was using to store most of the trolleys. For about ten years, four trolleys remained on the Red Hook waterfront, but flooding from Hurricane Sandy significantly corroded the cars. The O’Connell Organization donated the trolleys, two of which went to the Sherburne Falls Trolley Museum in Massachusetts, including cars 3299 and 3321, the last trolley car ever to be built in the state. Sherburne Falls Trolley Museum is currently fundraising for a cosmetic restoration of the cars. One trolley remains on the Red Hook Waterfront — the 3303 Boston T Green Line car dating from 1951. It has been painted blue in the last few years but the T logo is still visible. The trolley car now reads NO STOPS on its front placard.