A celebration marking the centennial of Long Island Rail Road service to Port Washington and completion of recent renovations to the station building was held on June 27. Many elected MTA and Long Island Rail Road officials as well as community representatives were in attendance. In addition, representatives of the US Postal Service stamped envelopes with a special cancellation mark for the occasion.
An engineering major at Cornell and professional engineer for many years, is Bob Persons dressed for a day at the office? Bob quipped that he looked like he belonged on Green Acres.
The station building is the original building constructed in 1898. In 1930 the building received a brick facing, but this year, the railroad's engineering department completed a building restoration and brought the building back, as close as possible, to its original appearance.
A brochure provided by the Long Island Rail Road gave a brief outline of its history in Port Washington. Following are some interesting excerpts:
"Prior to 1898, if someone in Port Washington desired to travel to New York City, that person would have to ride a stage coach to Great Neck, board a train for a ride to Hunters Point, whereat a ferry would be used to complete the journey across the East River to Manhattan. During the term of LIRR President Austin Corbin, the Great Neck and Port Washington Rail Road was chartered on April 15, 1896, for the purpose of building a rail line to the hamlet."
"The biggest obstacle to reaching Port Washington was the treacherous ground around Manhasset Bay. However, in what was quite an engineering feat for Long Island, a viaduct was completed in early 1898. The Manhasset Viaduct is a steel trestle 679 feet long and 81 feet above the water, supported by seven piers and required 480 tons of steel to build. To this day, the viaduct is the highest bridge on the LIRR.
The construction into Port Washington was completed on June 23, 1898. At that time, the population was 2,000. When the branch was electrified in 1913, the population had more than doubled to 5,500. In 1923, a 25th Aniversary ceremony was held at the station, by which time the population doubled again to 11,000. Today, the population is over 18,000, and the number of daily morning customers who travel out of Port Washington station is 2,400---more than the total population of the hamlet at the time of the railroad's entry.