For a limited time, the trolley car pictured above will be on display at the Red Hook Stores building on the Red Hook Waterfront. It’s a different model than the trolley cars the O’Connell Organization donated to the Branford Electric Railway Association, who operate the Shore Line Trolley Museum in East Haven, CT.
The car on display is known as a PCC (President’s Conference Committee) car. Commissioned by the Electric Railway President’s Conference in 1929, the PCC was designed to compete against the automotive bus. Addressing rider complaints about about trolleys — too slow, noisy, and uncomfortable — the PCC was an attempt at creating a sleeker, more modern car.
The Brooklyn and Queens Transit Company distributed survey questionnaires on the PCCs asking how passengers liked the car, and they seemed to be well received by the riding public. The PCC, like the Peter Witt car, was a licensed design and was built by several streetcar/railroad car manufacturers such as J. G. Brill and Company, Clark Equipment, and the St. Louis Car Company.
The PCC’s original livery was a cordova grey (brownish-grey), broken up by a ruby red stripe. After the NYC takeover of BMT and IRT under the NYC Board of Transportation in 1940, the cars were repainted green and silver or white.
Donald Cavaioli, who contributed a sliver of his vast knowledge of the trolley system of NYC to this post, mocked up the following colorized 1938 photograph to show what the cars would have looked like on the road. (You can find the original at nycsubway.org, as well as PCC blueprints.)
Whether you’re a streetcar enthusiast, or just someone who appreciates Brooklyn history, you may want to come down to the Red Hook Waterfront and see this historic PCC trolley car while you can. Make an afternoon of it, and have lunch or dinner at Fairway, right next door.