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Mapping Local and Commuter Rail Transit in NYC: BRT

This guide covers how to research for maps related to subways and railroads in New York City within the Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal's Map Division.

Quick Facts about the BRT

  • BRT is an initialism for Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company. 
  • Brooklyn Rapid Transit car, prepared for winter serviceYears of Note:
    • Formed in 1896 to acquire, unify, and improve the separate rail properties- mostly elevated and surface rails- in Brooklyn.
    • Signed the Dual Contracts in 1913, which divided subway operations between the IRT and BRT, and aimed to both improve and build new lines. The contracts allowed for the creation of a separate underground system in Brooklyn to be operated by the BRT. 
    • Filed for bankruptcy in 1918.
    • Reconstituted in 1923 as Brooklyn Manhattan Transit Corporation (BMT).

Image Source: Brooklyn Rapid Transit car, prepared for winter service. NYPL Digital Collections. Image ID 809809

A Selection of BRT Maps at NYPL

Image Source: Handy map of Brooklyn showing lines of Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company. 1897. NYPL Digital Collections Image ID 4068523

How to Search the Catalog for BRT Maps

Online Research Catalog

When using the Online Research Catalog:

  • In the Advanced Search function, checkmark "Cartographic" under Format.
  • If you are interested in finding maps created by the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company,we recommend the following searches into the Author field:
  • Not all maps that include BRT routes were created by the rapid transit company itself. Commercial, government, and other rapid transit companies would also showcase these local transit lines on their maps. As such, to include these maps in your search results, we recommend the following searches in the Keyword field:
  • Please note that you can have narrow your search to more specific results by combining the above search terms with any of the terms listed in the "Terms to Search in the Online Research Catalog" portion of this guide's Using Our Catalogs page.

Dictionary Catalog

Additional Recommended Books and Documents at NYPL

To find supplementary books and documents related to the BRT, please conduct the searches listed on this page's "Catalog Tips" with "Cartographic" NOT checkmarked  in either our Online Research Catalog or Digital Collections Portal. See below for a list of recommended materials: