Outside McDonald’s in Coney Island is Stillwell Avenue’s last remaining trolley pole, a vestige of the 86th Street trolley line which went from Bay Ridge to Coney’s Stillwell Terminal and ended in 1948. Located at the corner of Stillwell and Mermaid Avenues, the trolley pole is now used by Mickey D’s to advertise lunch specials, but we’re naming it the Granville T. Woods Memorial Trolley Pole because this street corner happens to be Granville T. Woods Way. It appears to be the last trolley pole on Stillwell Avenue.
Granville T. Woods invented the overhead conducting system which made the trolley possible. He held more than a dozen patents for electric railway technology including a power distribution system first tested and demonstrated to the public at Coney Island in 1892. In 2008, the African American inventor was honored with the street naming and was inducted into the Coney Island Hall of Fame.
As far as we know, Coney Island has forty-four surviving trolley utility poles. In February, ATZ wrote about the loss of two century-old poles on Surf Avenue and the 43 that remain on Surf (“Thor Destroys 119-Year-Old Relics of Coney Trolley History,” ATZ, February 21, 2012). When trolley service on the Surf Avenue-Seagate line ended on December 1, 1946, the Coney Island Chamber of Commerce requested that the poles on both sides of Surf Avenue be left in place in the amusement area to be used for holiday decorations.
Stan Fox, the former owner of Playland Arcade, told ATZ that about ten years ago, Charlie Tesoro of the Chamber asked him to count the poles on Surf Avenue. “There were sixty-four,” says Fox. “Since then some have fallen down. Others were removed.” The ones in front of MCU Park were removed when the stadium was constructed, he says. Fox updated his trolley pole census and said there are currently 43 poles on Surf Avenue as well as this solitary pole on Stillwell Avenue.
Related posts on ATZ…
February 21, 2012: Thor Destroys 119-Year-Old Relics of Coney Trolley History
January 31, 2012: Remnant of Under Boardwalk Bar Found in Coney Island
October 10, 2011: Photo of the Day: Coney Island’s Famed “Hey Joey!” Doomed