5. The abandoned rail line that used to connect to the Rockaways
Back when the Rockaways were called “New York’s Playground” or the “Irish Riviera,” previously landlocked passengers could take a train starting at Whitepot Junction that would carry them to the oceanside attractions. The Long Island Rail Road Rockaway Beach Branch ran from Grand Street in Elmhurst to Rockaway Park-Beach 116th Street, a station that was re-opened as an MTA subway stop along the A and S lines.
When the Long Island Railroad went defunct in 1962, some of what had used to be the LIRR was rerouted, but some of it was left untouched, and it soon became overgrown. At that time, the LIRR had been a privately owned company that went bankrupt and was absorbed by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Today, the tracks along the Rockaway Beach Branch are a makeshift park, covered with tall grasses and vines. The “Friends of the QueensWay” hopes to convert the abandoned rail line into a park called the “QueensWay,” named after the old railroad that linked to Rockaway Beach. The organization is trying to reinvigorate the railroad and has finished its first design phase, hoping to create a Highline-type recreational park in Queens.
In the meantime, check out our behind-the-scenes tour of the QueensWay this Fall!