The trouble began at dawn, when the railroad
company tried to run cars over the Smith Street line,
and by night more than fifty persons, several of them
policemen, had been injured by rocks and other missiles
hurled by the strikers or their sympathizers.
Many arrests were made, each attended by unusual mob
violence, and it was conservatively stated that Brooklyn
has not been the scene of greater disorder since the big
street car strikes of 1895, when four regiments of State
militia had to be called out to preserve order.
The strike went into effect at about 4 A.M. following
two meetings of the strikers in their headquarters.
Ninth Street and Third avenue, in which they discussed
the ultimatum of the company that the demand for more
wages would not be met. At the first meeting, held about
2 A.M., it was said that there was a division of opinion
as to whether a strike should be called, but at 3
o'clock a meeting was held which was more fully
representative of all of the 375 men affected, it was
said, and a strike was voted unanimously.
Brooklyn did not wake up to a realization that there was
a strike on until about 10 A.M., when the newspapers
told of riots along the Smith Street line. The railroad
company seemed surprised also, and was almost totally
unprepared. Negotiations, however, had been going on
since June 29, when, with the ending of the yearly
agreement with the line, the local division of the
Amalgamated Association of Street Railway Workers of the
United States of America demanded the increased pay.
De Kalb Avenue Men Work On
This union is represented on the Smith Street Line,
running from Park Row over the Brooklyn Bridge generally
by way of Smith and Ninth Streets and Coney Island
Avenue to Coney Island, the Franklin Avenue Line,
running from Delancey Street. Manhattan, over the
Williamsburg Bridge, through Franklin Avenue to Park
Circle, where it forms a junction with the Smith Street
Line: and the Hamilton Ferry up Hamilton Avenue and
Ninth Street, connecting with the Smith Street Line at
The other line of the system, the De Kalb Avenue Line is
not included in the strike. Employees on the line are
members of the Knights of Labor, which organization
signed a yearly agreement with the railroad company on
There was practically no service on the Smith Street
line and Hamilton Ferry line all day yesterday. A few
cars were operated on Franklin Avenue in the morning,
but all traffic was suspended with the increase of
violence on the Smith Street line, where the seriousness
of the situation required all the attention of the
officers of the railroad.
Service on the De Kalb Avenue line remained undisturbed,
except that transfers to the Franklin Avenue line were
of no use. Inasmuch as the company usually carries
100,000 to 200,000 persons to Coney Island on Saturdays
over its lines a large amount of additional traffic was
diverted to the Brooklyn Rapid Transit, making
congestion on these lines even more unbearable than
usual. there was little violence at the Coney Island
Terminal of the lines affected by the strike, few cars
having reached there.
The centre of the rioting was along the Smith Street
line, which is regarded as the most important of the
system. In Smith Street there were two policemen to each
block, but aside from an occasional attempt to block
cars by stalling wagons in the tracks, little trouble
was experienced. At Smith and Ninth Streets where one of
the company's car barns is located, however, there was
trouble almost every minute of the day.
Battles At the Bridge
At this point each car which was ordered to try to make
the run to Coney Island, stopped for instructions from
Superintendent of Traffic, Dennis J. Sullivan. Then,
manned by a strike breaking crew and several policemen,
proceeded at a rapid rate up Ninth Street.
The first stumbling block was the drawbridge over the
Gowanus Canal, where many strikers were hidden. There
several riots took place in the early morning hours. As
the Cars approached the striker's headquarters at Third
Avenue and Ninth street, and from the windows strikers
sympathizers kept up a fuselage of stones whenever a car
appeared with little danger of arrest.
Reaching Third avenue, however the strike breakers and
policemen on the cars took their lives in their hands.
From the Yard surrounding the strikers' headquarters and
out of the building itself, as each car approached,
swarmed a thousand or more men and boys, many with
bricks and rocks in their hands. Rocks filled the air as
the cars passed, many persons being hit. Throughout the
day ambulances remained at this corner to take the
injured to the hospital.
Few cars passed the corner, however, and all that did
were partially demolished. There was no attempt on the
part of the company to carry passengers, for no one
wanted to ride after the news of the strike went through
that section of the city. A single car on the Smith
reached Coney Island.
Early in the morning several thousand persons were in
Ninth Street, and by noon the crowd had swelled to
5,000. With the rush of the Saturday half-holiday crowd
steadily increasing, the crowd at 5 o'clock numbered
more than 10,000. The police were unable to handle them,
and as a consequence much violence went without an