At the end of the 19th century, Brighton was a resort destination for the top hat-wearing, monocle-bearing upper class. Hotel Brighton, a three story victorian-style inn with 174 rooms, opened in 1878 and quickly became a beachside paradise for Brooklyn’s wealthy.
A sun-kissed canopy led guests to the beach for sun bathing and swimming and back to the hotel banquet for an enormous selection of seafood.
However, ten years after the hotel opened, erosion of the beach brought the water to the hotel until half of the hotel was hanging over the ocean. So the plan was then made to move the entirety of the estimated 8-million-pound hotel 500 feet back from the water by resting the hotel on 112 flat cars and pulling it up 24 railroad tracks with six extremely powerful steam-engine locomotives.
“The sea has steadily encroached upon the land at Brighton Beach for years,” wrote the Evening World newspaper on April 3rd, 1888. “And despite the clause in the law of the land which guarantees that no man shall be deprived of his property without just compensation, Old Neptune has gobbled up a nice bit of real estate with a 500-foot sea frontage … to which the hotel people hold a title deed.”
The Evening World then explains that because Neptune won’t leave, the hotel had to be moved from the area in the “biggest case of housemoving on record,” at the “expense of $20,000.”
The moving of the hotel was an amazing feat for the time and drew spectators by the hundreds to watch as the massive resort was slowly pulled inland. They moved it about 72 feet the first day, and it took them ten days to finish the job.
The cars were made specifically for the project in metal shops on Pennsylvania Road, according to the Evening World. That Pennsylvania Road could be what it known today as Pennsylvania Avenue, but it is unclear. They were made of iron and held a carrying capacity of 60,000 pounds each.
Check out some of these other historic photos taken from this great project: