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110 Years of the Subway
Celebrating 100 Years of the BMT

Brooklyn burst onto the subway scene with a bang on June 22, 1915. The Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company (BRT), which would become the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation (BMT) within a few years, opened the Fourth Avenue Subway with much pomp and circumstance and more than 10,000 school children in attendance.

In 1915 Brooklyn was no stranger to mass transportation. Trolleys, excursion railroads, and steam-powered elevated trains had crisscrossed the borough for decades. In the 1890s the BRT was incorporated and by 1900 had taken over control of nearly all of the transit lines in Brooklyn. 

Plans for the Fourth Avenue Subway had been in the works for many years and construction was begun on the tunnels in 1909. With the signing of the Dual Contracts in 1913, the definitive plan was put into motion to drastically expand the decade old subway system. Working simultaneously, the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT) and the BRT tripled the track mileage and connected far reaching neighborhoods with an easy subway ride.
As the IRT was expanding into the Bronx and Queens (the Steinway Tunnels also opened to the public on June 22, 1915), the BRT was making south Brooklyn more accessible than ever.  The Fourth Avenue Subway carried passengers from lower Manhattan, over tracks on the Manhattan Bridge and through the borough of Brooklyn. It connected with the Sea Beach Line and deposited riders at Coney Island in less than an hour. Along the way the subway stopped at well-appointed stations in neighborhoods whose population grew quickly with this convenient transportation.

The opening of the Fourth Avenue Subway forever altered the history of the New York City subway system and the borough of Brooklyn. The work was not over in 1915. Additional lines were constructed, lines were connected and the BMT made more of Manhattan and Brooklyn reachable by subway.  The BRT became the BMT in 1923, and in 1940 became a division in the unified transit system. BMT subway lines were an integral tool in the development of New York City and they remain an essential part of transportation in the present and the future.

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