Southern Brooklyn

“Steps To Nowhere” – In Vibrant Technicolor


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.


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  1. 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.

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

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. If it was at a northeasterly slant, it wasn’t Avenue X but a remnant of a former street. Probably was Emmers Lane which is still visible as a driveway I believe on East 13th Street south of Avenue X.

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

  21. 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”.

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

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25.  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.


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