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Transportation

How Brooklyn Could Survive the L Train Shutdown

A new report urges: Keep calm and get on the gondola.
The L train masses. Where will they all go?
The L train masses. Where will they all go?Mark Lennihan/AP Photo

When New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced plans to close the L train between the Bedford and 14th Street stations for 18 months of repairs in 2019, Brooklynites freaked. Especially the ones in Williamsburg. The L train’s Bedford station stop is the artisanal-everything neighborhood’s portal to Manhattan. Without L train access, observers warned, real-estate values would plummet, the service industry would shrivel, and the neighborhood’s up-and-comers would flee to more transit-accessible locales, leaving behind only a handful of taxidermists to gaze sadly at the now-vacant streets. “2019 is the year Williamsburg dies,” shrieked the New York Post.

Predictions of an impending manbun-pocalypse may be hyperbole. But in the run-up to the L train’s closure, it’s apparent just how much the outsize success of neighborhoods like Williamsburg—whose cultural cachet has become synonymous with a certain global chic—depends on that single subway. A new analysis by the NYU’s Rudin Center for Transportation makes that case compellingly, while also outlining steps that MTA and city leaders can take to keep affected Brooklynites connected.