Rosie's View by Lou Mallard of Syosset.
Later this month, the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) will celebrate its 175th anniversary and various events have been scheduled to mark the milestone.
On April 18 at 2 p.m., Dave Morrison, a former LIRR Oyster Bay branch manager, will present "Beloved Vintage Postcards of the Long Island Rail Road" at the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn Heights. Morrison, a railroad historian, will present a collection of historic postcards that show the breadth and variety of stations along the LIRR. As a book on this topic, Morrison will discuss these historic station buildings, many of which are still intact thanks to the efforts of local preservation groups.
The Oyster Bay Railroad Museum (OBRM) is participating in the celebration of the 175th Anniversary of the LIRR and will be a co-presenter, along with the Sunrise Trail Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society and the Railroad Museum of Long Island, at a symposium on Saturday, April 25 at Hicksville Middle School. The daylong event will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
"We are happy to be a part of the symposium because we are a part of the LIRR's rich history," said OBRM board member Gary Farkash, who will be speaking at the event on behalf of the Oyster Bay museum.
Registration for the April 25 event will begin at 9 a.m. and tickets will be sold at the door. The cost is $15 for members of railroad museums and historical societies and $20 for the general public. Refreshments and a luncheon will be provided as part of the admission fee. For additional information, visit www.nrhs-list.org or call David Morrison at 935-3145.
As an added attraction to the symposium, the Long Island Sunrise Trail Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society is also sponsoring exhibits featuring the works of Lou Mallard and George Wybenga.
Lou Mallard's exhibit, featuring over 100 paintings of LIRR locomotives, trains, stations and towers, is on exhibit in the Hicksville Public Library's Kenneth M. Barnes Community Room throughout the month of April. Mallard, who has been painting LIRR equipment and scenes for over 30 years, unveiled his work at a reception April 4. Additionally, George Wybenga's drawings of cabooses from Long Island and around the United States is currently on display at the Hicksville Gregory Museum.
The New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn Heights will also commemorate LIRR's milestone anniversary with an exhibit entitled "The Route of the Dashing Commuter: The Long Island Rail Road at 175" through Sept. 13. The exhibition will examine the transition of Long Island from an idyllic farming community to one of the nation's premier suburbs, with some of the Northeast's most beautiful beaches, and easy access to jobs in New York's hub.
Using vintage photographs, maps, illustrations and objects on loan from the museum's and private collections, the exhibit unfolds a fascinating story of the railroad and how it continues to contribute to the development of Long Island. In addition to the historical aspects of the Rail Road, the exhibition will look at the current East Side Access tunnel construction project, bringing Long Island commuters into Grand Central Terminal and bringing the LIRR into the future.
"When we were first chartered in 1834, it is doubtful our founders envisioned what we would become 175 years later - the largest commuter railroad in North America, serving 87.4 million customers on more than 700 miles of track stretching from Penn Station to Montauk, and many communities in between. This great enterprise - kept strong by our proud workforce of 6,800 - has served as an economic engine for Long Island and for the entire New York Metropolitan region, getting customers safely and quickly to and from work, leisure activities and other destinations, 24 hours a day, seven days a week," said LIRR President Helena Williams.
According to Williams, "The decade to come will see continued efforts to modernize our operation as we get ready for the largest expansion of our service in recent times. The East Side Access project will provide LIRR customers with a one-seat ride to Grand Central Terminal, a key service improvement benefiting travelers for the next 175 years to come! The Transit Museum's exhibit celebrates our rich history and illustrates the exciting changes ahead. We encourage all to make the trip to Brooklyn to see where it all began."
Initially planned as a rail and steam boat connection between Brooklyn and Boston, the LIRR has adapted to the ever-changing needs of its customers and survived competition, takeovers, hard times and bankruptcy. The LIRR, whose official 175th anniversary date is April 24, 2009, is also the oldest railroad in the United States still operating under its original name and the busiest commuter railroad in North America. The railroad is comprised of 11 different branches, stretching from Montauk - on the eastern tip of Long Island -- to Penn Station in the heart of Manhattan, approximately 120 miles away. Along the way, the LIRR serves 124 stations in Nassau and Suffolk counties, Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan.
To better serve their customers, the LIRR is currently embarking on a massive expansion project known as East Side Access, allowing LIRR trains access to the East Side of Manhattan via new tunnels and a transit hub to be built under Grand Central Terminal. For a closer look at the LIRRs East Side Access project currently under construction, the exhibition "The Future Beneath Us: 8 Great Projects Under New York," which is on view through July 5 at the Transit Museum's Grand Central Gallery Annex, presents amazing photographs of the construction site, architectural renderings and scale models and videos. Admission to the Gallery Annex is free.
Special events offered in celebration of the 175th Anniversary of the Long Island Rail Road included an April 4 tour that began with a presentation at Flushing Town Hall and an artist-led tour of Jean Shin's Celadon Remnants, a recent mosaic installation at the Broadway station of the Long Island Rail Road. Shin's work portrays the rich culture of the Korean diaspora, represented by the vibrant local Korean-American community.
Additionally, the LIRR will mark its 175th milestone with Customer Appreciation Days.
For more information on this and future LIRR 175th Anniversary events, visit www.mta.info/lirr.
The LIRR's 175th anniversary is an important one on the home front in that many fundamental roots of the railroad can be traced back to Hicksville - including its name, which was in honor of Valentine Hicks, the LIRR's second president.
When the LIRR reached Hicksville on March 1, 1837, Hicksville was the east end terminal until the expansion to Farmingdale was completed in 1841. The LIRR was single track between Jamaica and Hicksville until it was double tracked in 1890 with a former brick station building that opened to the public on Oct. 30, 1909; the building was demolished on Nov. 30, 1962 as part of the huge grade crossing elimination project.
"The Hicksville Public Library has several hundred photographs documenting the grade crossing elimination," said Morrison. "As far as I know, this is the most comprehensive photographic survey of any grade crossing elimination on Long Island."
Morrison noted that a formal ceremony commemorating the end of steam locomotives on the LIRR took place in Hicksville on Oct. 8, 1955, marking one of the "most important events in the history of the LIRR."
On May 15, 1965, the Penn Station Eagle in Hicksville Station Plaza was dedicated by the Hicksville High School Latin Club, led by Samuel A. Goldberg; only two other Penn Station Eagles remain, both located on Long Island at the US Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, stated Morrison.
A ceremony commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the Hicksville Eagle was held on May 15, 1990 and, in 2000, the Hicksville Chamber of Commerce erected community welcome signs with an image of the Ariel, the LIRR's first locomotive. These signs are still in place today. A ceremony commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the End of Steam was held in Hicksville on Oct. 8, 2005.
Most recently, on May 17, 2008, a John Bull Locomotive replica, an icon for Hicksville created by James Pavone, was dedicated. It took Pavone two and a half years to construct the replica, which is on permanent display at Kennedy Memorial Park.