1895 Brooklyn Transit Strike Sparked Death and Visit From National Guard

By Nikhita Venugopal on September 3, 2014 2:47pm 

 Court and Joralemon St., circa 1923, v1974.1.1348; Eugene L. Armbruster photographs and scrapbooks, v1974.1; Brooklyn Historical Society: Citation
Court and Joralemon St., circa 1923, v1974.1.1348; Eugene L. Armbruster photographs and scrapbooks, v1974.1; Brooklyn Historical Society: Citation
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Brooklyn Historical Society

BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — You think Brooklyn's subways are bad now?

Back in January 1895, Brooklyn’s mass transit system ground to a halt for three weeks after about 5,000 workers of the trolley system went on strike, sparking chaos and at least one death and prompting officials to call in the National Guard.

That tumult — known as the “Great Trolley Strike of 1895” — will be the subject of archivist John Zarrillo's Sept. 9 talk, “Tales from the Vault,” at the Brooklyn Historical Society, located at 128 Pierrepoint St.

Zarrillo came across the strike after digging up records about a man patching roofs during the strike, who was shot and killed at the hands of a National Guard soldier, he said.

Zarrillo plans to recount stories from the strike and discuss what compelled the workers to form this chapter of Brooklyn’s history as part of his ongoing series, prompted by his research funded by the Council on Library and Information Resources. He has spent a year sifting through records from the Brooklyn Corporation Counsel, a wealth of documents relating to lawsuits that have been filed against the city.

“The idea is to make available these records that are currently unavailable to public research,” he said.

Tales from the Vault will take place on Sept. 9 at 6:30 p.m. at the Brooklyn Historical Society, located at 128 Pierrepont St. The event is free. To RSVP, visit this website.

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