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Long Island Railroad History

The Long Island Railroad history goes back to 1834,
the year that the train first came into action.

Since then, the commuter train has continuously been in business and is the oldest and busiest train in this country that still goes by it's original name and charter. When the LIRR first began it's route, Long Island was mainly flat land and fishing villages and had a population of 35,000.

The Long Island Railroad was created to link New York, Philadelphia, and Boston via rail-ferry-rail.

The plan was for the train to travel out to the North fork of Long Island. From there passengers would take a ferry to Connecticut and then get on another train through Providence and Boston.

In the early days the route was successful, however the train went bankrupt after 5 years due to the fact that tracks were layed over the Connecticut shoreline, which was believed to be impossible.

LIRR's original purpose became no longer relevant. The LIRR realized that they could only surive if they focused on local commuter service and they started to create more trackwork to be closer to the communities of Long Island.

Eventually the LIRR became one of about 30 trains competing for the Long Island market. The LIRR worked to create lines throughout the many towns and villages.

By 1850 there was one branch: from Mineola to Hicksville. However, progress was slow to create new branches and there was heavy competition from other railroad companies. Eventually one train emerged from all the competition: The "Long-Island Rail-road Company". The commencement of this train was May 13, 1846.

Technology was not so advanced back then, and there were derailments.

Even after the consolidation of trains into "The Long-Island Rail-road Company", the LIRR went into receivership in 1879. However, things looked up when Austin Corbin became president of the LIRR in 1880. He was able to turn the state of the LIRR around.

During this time commuters were able to cross the east river by riding a ferry. Austin Corbin was able to get the state's permission to enter the Manhattan from the east and the Pennsylvania Railroad, a railroad giant, was able to finance the operation. The Long Island Railroad became part of the Pennsylvania Railroad.

From the merge, the construction of Penn Station in New York City began. It was completed in 1910. New York City was considered a central location and was chosen as the site where Penn Station would be built. This was to allow travelers easy access from Long Island to Manhattan and New Jersey and back.

As a result of the commuter trains travelling through Long Island, new communities along the route were developed and houses and property were built.

The railroad was able to transport goods and supplies east and west and the Long Island economy benefited from this. Trains ran all the way from Montauk to Manhattan.

Long Island Railroad History - Great Depression

Then in the 1920's the depression hit. The introduction of the subway into Jamaica stole many of the passengers from the LIRR and tracks were abandoned. In addition, the development of the automobile took hold. During these times the railroad wasn't so busy.

But during the war years, the railroad because busy again. However, the trains because overburdened with the transport of defense materials. And since ticket prices hadn't changed since 1918, the train became bankrupt in 1949.

After the war, people became used to driving cars to get around. Trains could not not keep up with the times and there were many safety concerns with the LIRR.

In the mid 60's, New York State bought the Long Island Railroad from the Pennsylvania and the MTA was created. As a result, the financial state of the LIRR was turned around and brought back to life.

The Long Island Railroad has come a long way since the early days. The MTA spent 2.1 billion dollars between 1982 and 1991 to completely rebuild the railroad.

Renovations and upgrades to maintain and improve the railroad are ongoing. The train has created many jobs and thousands of commuters rely on the train for their daily commute.

The Long Island Railroad history plays a huge part in the development of Long Island's economy. We have come to rely on the train to get around the Island and head to Manhattan. The train has continued to provide reliable service to all of Long Island.

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