Long Island Rail Road - History

History

The Long Island Rail Road Company was chartered in 1834 to provide a daily train service between New York and Boston via a ferry connection between its Greenport, New York, terminal on Long Island's North Fork and Stonington, Connecticut. This service was superseded in 1849 by the land route through Connecticut that was to become part of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad. The LIRR refocused its attentions towards serving Long Island itself, in competition with other railroads on the island. In the 1870s railroad president Conrad Poppenhusen and his successor Austin Corbin acquired all the railroads and consolidated them into the LIRR.

For much of its history the LIRR was a money loser, but in 1900 the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) bought a controlling interest as part of its plan for direct access to Manhattan which commenced on September 8, 1910. The wealthy PRR subsidized the LIRR during the first half of the new century, allowing much expansion and modernization.

By the end of the Second World War, however, the downturn in the railroad industry and dwindling profits caused the PRR to relinquish the LIRR from its payroll. The bankrupt LIRR went into receivership in 1949. The State of New York, realizing how important the railroad was to the future of Long Island, began to subsidize the railroad gradually throughout the 1950s and 60s. In 1966, New York State bought the railroad's controlling stock from the PRR and put it under the newly formed Metropolitan Commuter Transportation Authority (renamed Metropolitan Transportation Authority in 1968). With MTA subsidies, the LIRR modernized further and grew into the busiest commuter railroad in the United States.

The LIRR is one of the few railroads that has survived as an intact company from its original charter to the present day.

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