On a warm summer evening in June, a group of New Yorkers threw an unofficial farewell party for a decommissioned Long Island Railroad train. The festivities ran as the out-of-service vehicle sat in an New York City rail yard, awaiting shipment west to be sold for scraps.
The illicit gathering took place in and around ten, M3-model LIRR cars from the 1980s that had likely been sitting in the yard for a couple months. The inactive cars were discovered by a member of the LTV Squad, a “NYC based multidisciplinary group focused on exploring, photography, history and government accountability.”
The night of off-limits revelry started at a secret meeting location on train tracks atop an abandoned overpass. The only way up was to climb a small street-side slope to the tracks. Once that obstacle was surmounted, the LTV Squad guide led party-goers to a precarious footbridge for the next leg of the journey. One at a time guests traversed the narrow, and questionably secure, yellow plastic deck. Safely across the creek and over another bridge (with a deck of slightly more reliable plywood), the path opened up to a large industrial yard and the massive train appeared.
Throughout the night heads popped in and out of windows, people danced on the roof, and a small grill served up hot dogs alongside the train as the Empire State Building glowed in the distance. Inside the cars, revelers walked through rows of dusty and dissembled blue and red seats, snapping photographs and exploring usually restricted areas. Holes in the ceilings and walls and missing doors revealed the electronic and mechanical guts of the train. Advertisements from the early 2000s adorned the walls and remnants of commuters, like Snapple bottles and old newspapers, littered the seats. Later in the night a makeshift stage was set up for a performance by an NYC singer songwriter and some well equipped attendees took home souvenirs, like a small door emblazoned with a glow-in-the-dark emergency instruction sign.
The MTA deals with retired trains in a variety of ways. Sometimes the vehicles find new life serving another purpose, such as two trains in May that were donated to the Suffolk County fire department for firefighters to use in training. Since 2001, old subway cars have been gutted and dumped into waters along the east coast to help form artificial reefs. This dusty, tagged, and picked through LIRR train will be loaded onto a flat bed truck and relocated from its temporary resting place in NYC to its final destination in a midwestern scrapyard.
Next, check out A Memorial to Roxey, the Canine Mascot of the Long Island Railroad and