Lisanne Anderson, “knowledgeable of the city’s miscellanea as she is,” and frequent photo contributor to Sheepshead Bites, submitted this Technicolor gem of the fabled “Steps to Nowhere” outside the Neck Road and East 16th Street station.

The “Steps to Nowhere,” while just that — a no longer operational facet of the current Q train’s Neck Road station on Gravesend Neck Road and East 16th Street, looking northwest — used to actually be steps to somewhere… “But where?” you might ask. Or not. But in the event that you are asking, we have done some research.

Opened in 1893, the stairs led to a different, adjacent Neck Road station, which operated as part of the Manhattan Beach Branch of the Long Island Rail Road until May 14, 1924. In other words, these things are so old — 118 years, to be exact — that they likely merit long-term inclusion in the New York Transit Museum.

To see a photo of the steps as they appeared in 1910, and later as they appeared, albeit far more grungy, in 1986, you can check out Arthur John Huneke’s page comprehensively covering the New York and Manhattan Beach Railway.

While parts of the former Manhattan Beach line of the LIRR have been removed during the ongoing construction in the area (Did we say “ongoing?” We meant “never-ending”), the “Steps to Nowhere” are likely to be going… nowhere.

 

Related posts

  • Anonymous

    I hope they stay. I like pieces of history like that.

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

      I think the remaining one will. It doesn’t appear that they are going to be doing any more work on that part of the site. But the stone wall can’t be removed, there’s nothing on top now. It would truly be a staircase to nowhere.

  • Joseph Ditta

    The stairs are probably not as old as 1893. Before 1907 (I *think* that was the year), the Manhattan Beach Branch of the LIRR ran at grade (as did the Brighton Line). The stairs date from when the line was placed on an embankment (like the Brighton Line) and the grade crossings eliminated. Still, they’re over a century old.

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

      The stations at Neck Road and Sheepshead Bay opened in 1910. They operated less than 15 years. When the racetrack was closed the only traffic going on the line was frieght, Doody’s Lumber Yard had sidings for unloading shipments. By 1929 even that use had ceased.

      Given the fact that they were hardly used the staircases were almost pristine looking 50 years after they were constructed. And one could walk up both staircases, at the top were trees and a pathway. Unfortunately in the 1970s the MTA decided that the staircases were unsafe and gated one, and bricked up the other, which is the one that remains.

      An episode of Naked City used these stairs as part of the plotline of a story in a 1962 episode. Unfortunately, the episode is not available on VHS or DVD.

      • Anonymous

        I remember the filming of that show on Neck Road.
        I was just a young’un back then.

        • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

          I do too. We watched from the corner of East 15th Street, but there wasn’t all that much that we could see going on.

          • Anonymous

            I also remember watching it. I think I got off the train at Neck Road while I was going south when I saw the camera crew. I remember hanging around on the southbound platform as they they filmed a girl jumping rope for thirty minutes on the northbound side. As a kid, I thought that it was an integral part of the plot. I could hardly wait for the episode to air. When it finally did, boy was I disappointed when I saw the entire jump rope sequence was 5 or 10 seconds and Neck Road never appeared later in the episode.

          • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

            Yep, that was it.

            Some of the episode took place on the hilly surface at the top of the staircase. A boy was hiding there.

            I haven’t seen that episode in 30 years. They used to show reruns on channel 5 on Sunday afternoons.

            But you can watch or download ten episodes here.

            http://stagevu.com/search?x=0&y=0&for=%22Naked+City%22&in=Videos

        • Georgia

          Yes the Naked City and the Bronx tail & I think some others also.

        • Georgia

          Yes the Naked City and the Bronx tail & I think some others also.

        • Georgia

          Yes the Naked City and the Bronx tail & I think some others also.

        • Georgia

          Yes the Naked City and the Bronx tail & I think some others also.

      • Georgia

        Your right that’s the hystory of Neck Road. That was the Long Island Rail Road connection. The fright train used to come down East 17th Street to the bay. That’s why the street is so wide to Jerome Avenue.

        • Anonymous

          And the Y that goes into Sheepshead Bay / Jerome Avenue by Bill Brown Square was the Right of Way for the Railroad which continued through where the present buildings (old site of New Clements Restaurant) are. It then went parallel between West End Avenue and Corbin Place where the yard was just north of Oriental Blvd.

          Earlier it had continued south of Oriental Blvd up to around Irwin Street which was the site of the Oriental Hotel. There also was a stop near Ocean Avenue approximately where St Margaret Mary Church is to serve the Manhattan Beach Hotel.

          • Georgia

            Earlier in the days I did not think it continued south on Oriental Blvd and around Irwin .

          • Anonymous

            The map I saw did not show it on Oriental which wasn’t even built yet. It looked as if it was mid-block between Oriental and the Ocean. I think it was around 1900.

        • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

          There were various spurs, one of which led to where Doody’s is, which is why they built there. Another led to a siding on East 19th Street just south of Avenue Y. And of course one spur led directly to the entrance of the track.

          • Georgia

            I have to go back to my books. I thought the entrance was on Ave Y and Ocean.
            Very informative. Thank you

          • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

            I just looked at some maps. The entrance was between Avenue X and Avenue Y on Ocean, a pathway led to the actual track, which was about where East 22nd Street is now.

          • Georgia

            Sounds good to me thank you for the info

      • Georgia

        Your right that’s the hystory of Neck Road. That was the Long Island Rail Road connection. The fright train used to come down East 17th Street to the bay. That’s why the street is so wide to Jerome Avenue.

  • Anonymous

    Love browsing Arrt’s Arrchives, but damn it is a zoo. You can spend a month there and barely scratch the surface.

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

      It’s a labyrinth of material, going off into various directions from each page, much like a railroad might.

      • Anonymous

        Exactly! Since I can’t run a railroad, the directions this thing takes are more than I can handle. But isn’t it great? Everyone should give it a try.

  • nolastname

    Lisanne good view. I am sticking with my name for you. Blue. ;-)
    You do get the nicest shades.
    Is that a bird in flight? One sitting on the line also? LOL

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

      Kodaks love blues. They like reds even more, sometimes to the point where the red bleeds with oversaturation.

      The birds like to sit on the top. There’s a really nice view from there.

  • Boo3939

    if they keep them, they should fix it up. it is such an eyesore with the newly renovated station

  • Anonymous

    I was also sorry when they got rid of the last remnant of the spur from the Brighton Line to the Sheepshead Bay Racetrack just south of Neck Road near Avenue X, when they built the last few houses on East 16th Street.

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

      The spur turn is still there, buried in weeds at Avenue X.

      Behind here.

      http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001/771889844/

      • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

        Maybe we can find traces of tracks if we went before the weeds overgrow everything,

      • winson

        i guess that is why the Avenue X “overpass” is a dead-end. The LIRR Manhattan Beach Line would have been awesome if it still existed.

        • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

          Yes. The tracks lowered to grade level and turned down Avenue X.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RON6KB5HMRHTKIYTK6HFBLVVZ4 orly r

            I think this spur went to a paint factory, which is now Doody’s Home Center.

          • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

             It went to sidings, but Doody’s started using it for their operation before they opened the retail store.

            South of Doody’s was Permatex.They manufactured paint, auto supplies and other products.

        • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

          There is an opening that would allow one to walk under the tracks at Avenue X. But it may be blocked off now. It’s been 40 years since I last walked through it. It’s narrow and scary, and I’m not sure why it was placed there. It also goes at a northeasterly slant in the direction of East 16th Street. As you came out you were approximately where the track turned onto Avenue X.

      • Anonymous

        That’s not what I was referring to. There was a concrete remnant which may have been from the underpass which came off from the southbound local track just south of Neck Road. There was a gap between the houses where it was located. Sometime in the 1980s or 1990s, it was taken down to fit a couple of new houses in the gap. If I go there I could probably pick out which two houses they are because they are newer than the rest. I believe there once used to be two of them but the first one was removed earlier.

        • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

          Funny, that I don’t remember. But it sounds right.

        • nolastname

          I remember that, you could see from E16 street to E15 street at one point the put a fence across. As a youngster we used to go down the hills on flattened cardboard boxes. I think we called it “dead man’s alley”.

          • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

            We used walk alongside of the train tracks from Avenue Y going up towards X. We were told there were rats there but I never saw one.

      • Georgia

        I wish the MTA would clean this lot out the tracks are still there. Right on East 16th and Ave X.

        • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

          Someone’s growing bamboo there, as the photo shows.

          • Georgia

            I have to walk there & take a look between the weeds when I have a chance

  • nolastname

    I remember the news stand and the fruit store. In the 60′s the fruit store gave a bag of apples as a treat for Halloween.

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

      Sal’s. That takes one back in time. It was a big bag of apples. After awhile he started stamping the hands of the kids so they couldn’t come back and get seconds.

      • nolastname

        Yes, and half the neighborhood had a tab. He added the bill up on an
        old rinkydink register or on the bag itself.

        • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

          I wondered how he stayed in business sometimes. He helped a lot of people when they had money troubles.

  • Pingback: Please Don’t Stair: A Dozen Spooky Steps To Nowhere | NuzaRazzi