Nate Dorr | 2021 | 7 min
A trip behind and beneath the street-level skin of the city on the hidden paths of industrial history and once-and-future transit.
The Triboro Line is a 24-mile freight rail in New York City, spanning from the Brooklyn Army Terminal in Bay Ridge, to Co-Op City in the Bronx. Once largely a passenger line, the tracks have since been reduced and repurposed, and now see only intermittent industrial use. In the absence of efficient crosstown trains or subways linking the burroughs without passing through Manhattan, transit advocacy groups have proposed a restoration of the Triboro line to commuter service. In early 2020, the MTA opened a million dollar feasibility study for conversion of the former Bay Ridge Branch, the lower eleven miles of track through Brooklyn to Fresh Pond Junction. Though nominally still in progress, the coronavirus epidemic and a major budgetary crisis have thrown the future of the study, and rail line as a whole, into uncertainty. Through this rocky terrain, the Triboro Line runs on, rarely seen and rarely considered.
The film Triboro considers the Bay Ridge Branch as it exists now. From September 2019 to November 2020 I hiked the length of the line, taking still photographs at regular intervals along its length as regulated by the spacing of the ties, one photo every two to eight ties depending on the section under consideration. By carefully aligning and interleaving these images, created gliding timelapse tracking shots that travel as a train might and condense the eleven miles of rail and four seasons of work into a seven-minute journey.