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Page 9

Already, real estate agents began to publish brochures hinting of the Staten Island boom the link to the City would create.
     With the hope that a tunnel soon would be under way to the island, the SIRT began to electrify its steam lines. From the Standard Steel Car Company they ordered one hundred 67-foot cars similar to the BMT's "Standard" design.
     Electrification of all three of the passenger branches was achieved with dramatic speed, especially by modern standards. The Public Service Commission approved preliminary plans for the project on May 1, 1924 and actual construction began around August 1st of the same year. On June 25, 1925 the South Beach Line electrification was completed, with the Tottenville branch following on July 2nd (the "official" date for these two was July 1, 1925). The Arlington Line completed the system on Christmas Day. The project included extensive track rehabilitation and an entirely new signal system.

A Narrows Tunnel Begins, Barely
In that same year of 1925, tunnel headings were made in both Staten Island and Brooklyn, but work ground to a halt, never to be reinstated. Precisely why is one of those tangles of events and politics that leaves an obvious effect but veils the cause.
     Blame has often been placed on New York Mayor John Hylan (due to his quarrels with the BMT) upon the not unreasonable assumption that he obstructed the work because the BMT stood to benefit from this link. Unquestionably Hylan did, at least, create some obstruction by putting forth overlapping and contradictory plans for the tunnel to Brooklyn.
     Another theory is that Alfred E. Smith, Governor of New York at that time and later Democratic candidate for President had a hand in the project's demise. Smith owned quite a considerable number of shares of the Pennsylvania Railroad,the only railroad with operations to the south of the city that entered it directly.

New 67' cars

Subway Fever and Electrification
With the Great War over, the expectation of the subway tunnel ran high throughout the post-war years. In 1920 six tunnel routes were proposed to Staten Island by a transit commission. Soaring SIRT ridership exceeded 13,000,000 riders in 1921, justifying a new tunnel to Brooklyn.

Modern in One Big Step. 1925: New 67' SIRT cars, electrification, new high-level platforms.

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Updated Sunday, December 23, 2001

©1965 Silver Leaf Rapid Transit. ©2001 Paul Matus. ©2001 The Composing Stack Inc.