Long Island Rail Road Marks Its 180th Anniversary with Celebration at Mineola Station
April 24th, 2014
Nation’s Oldest & Busiest Commuter Railroad Looks Back with Pride & Ahead to Improvements That Will Make Long Island an Even Better Place to Live & Work
The MTA Long Island Rail Road today marked its 180th anniversary with a celebration in Mineola where business and community leaders pointed with pride to the Railroad’s long history of service to the region.
The Long Island Rail Road was chartered by the State of New York on April 24, 1834 and is the nation’s oldest railroad still operating under its original name. In 2013, the LIRR carried 83.4 million customers, making it the busiest commuter rail line in the U.S.
“On the occasion of our 180th anniversary, I would like to thank our customers for their loyal patronage of the critical service that we provide to Long Island and to the region,” said Helena E. Williams, the LIRR’s President. “We remain committed to delivering safe, secure and reliable rail transportation for Long Island and we look forward to expanding our ridership in the years ahead. I also salute the men and women of the LIRR who work around the clock to keep the Railroad running and have for 180 years. I know they take very seriously the motto that appears on the side of every train: ‘We Serve With Pride.’”
Joining Williams at the ceremony were MTA Board Members Mitch Pally of Suffolk County and John. J. Molloy of Nassau County, representatives of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Council to the MTA and the Long Island Rail Road Commuter Council as well as two well-known LIRR historians.
Public officials, including Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, sent their best wishes with the Governor and both County Executives issuing proclamations marking the LIRR big birthday.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said: “As the oldest and busiest commuter rail road in the country, the LIRR continues to serve as an economic engine for Long Island, connecting residents to employment and recreational opportunities in New York City while helping to grow the region’s economy. One hundred and eighty years after it was first chartered by the State of New York, the LIRR – and the men and women who keep it operating around the clock 365 days a year – play a vital role in helping to make Long Island one of the most desirable places to live in the nation.”
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano said: “History reveals that the LIRR has been one of the most important strategic assets in our county’s ability to grow, nurture our economy and provide residents with access to one of the most dynamic cities in the world,” said Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano. “It is hard to conceive what Long Island would be like were it not for the railroad’s ability to move people and commerce in a safe and efficient manner. I look forward to witnessing the LIRR’s continued efforts to strengthen its role as the mass transportation artery we have all come to depend upon.”
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said, “Stretching from the eastern tips of Suffolk County to the Big Apple, the Long Island Rail Road has connected the lives of millions of Long Islanders, helping to bolster our local economy and promote cost-effective, eco-friendly transportation. We look forward to the continued modernization of the country’s oldest commuter rail line and encourage all New Yorkers to take in scenic views and beautiful scenery that the LIRR offers from Manhattan to Montauk. I congratulate the Long Island Railroad as it celebrates its 180th birthday.”
MTA Chairman & CEO Thomas Prendergast said: “As a former president of the Long Island Rail Road, I know that this milestone is a tremendous source of pride for the LIRR workforce and an important reminder of the pivotal role the Railroad plays in the day to day life of so many Long Islanders. We want today’s LIRR customers – the children and grandchildren of yesteryear’s Dashing Dans and Dotties - to know that the MTA is committed to the continued improvement of service on this great Railroad and we are backing that commitment with the financial resources to make it a reality.”
Kevin Law, president and CEO of the Long Island Association, the region’s largest and most influential business group, said the LIRR continues to play a key role in growing Long Island’s economy. “The Long Island Rail Road strengthens our region by connecting us to New York City and, on its 180th birthday, it remains an economic engine that with continued investments will enhance Long Island’s future growth,” Law said.
“When we started operation, Long Island was a very rural area,” Williams said. “Andrew Jackson was in the White House and horses ruled the roads. Today, the LIRR is a key economic driver for Long Island, connecting its residents to high-skilled, high-paying jobs in New York City as well as the wealth of leisure opportunities the city has to offer.”
Looking forward, Williams reminded Long Islanders that the MTA’s East Side Access project, which will allow the LIRR to offer direct service to Grand Central Terminal and the East Side of Manhattan for the first time, promises to trim commuting by up to 40 minutes a day for those traveling to the East Side, a game changer that will help keep Long Island’s housing market competitive.
As a “thank you” to customers, commuters at Mineola Station queued up to enter a drawing for free tickets to the New York International Auto Show, now at the Jacob Javits Convention Center, as well as New York Cosmos professional soccer games and New York Lizards professional lacrosse games.
LIRR historians, the author Dave Morrison, a retired LIRR branch line manager, and Steve Quigley, the president of the Long Island Sunrise Trail Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, spoke about the history of the LIRR and along with Williams and other guests checked out the historic photographs and artifacts on special display inside the station waiting room.