The Grade Crossings of Glendale


    The quiet neighborhood of Glendale contains a number of anachronisms, including the passage of the Long Island Rail Road Montauk spur from west to east. This sleepy line now carries freight only, but it’s only been a year or two since at least one daily passenger train plied the tracks here. And, until March 1998 Glendale had its very own LIRR station, which in its final years consisted of a bare spot in the weeds alongside the tracks, on the right side in the above photo.

    The Montauk spur, which was apparently named because it once served trains bound for Montauk, splits from the main branch in Jamaica west of the large Jamaica station complex and runs west to Long Island City on elevated, at-grade, and open cut portions. It once contained station stops in Richmond Hill, Glendale, Fresh Pond, Haberman (in western Maspeth, named for a local firm), Penny Bridge (named for the span the Kosciuszko Bridge replaced) and LIC. By the mid-1990s, patronage on the line had dropped to less than a dozen daily riders and, since new double-decked cars were being phased in that required high level platforms, the decision was made to close the stations rather than rebuild them.


    Two grade crossings, now rare in NYC in populated areas, hold firm in Glendale, and the westernmost one at Edsall Avenue and 73rd Street is the quirkiest of the two (the other is at 88th Street). Here, the public notice that the station would be closing March 16, 1998 is still in place and was legible until recently, when the local youth finally stepped in and alleviated the situation.



    This metallic sign, installation date unknown, warns against crossing the tracks, but there is a florist there these days, and you won’t be arrested for crossing.



    Both the buildings shown here on Edsall Avenue were at one time hotels serving travellers exiting at Glendale: The former Woods Inn, or Kirschmann’s saloon (1906), on the left and the even older George Gundolff’s Hotel (1830s) on the right. Now they are private homes and the residents may have no idea of the buildings’ former use.



    The south entrance of Lutheran, now All Faiths Cemetery, is across the tracks on 73rd Street. The cemetery was founded in 1852 and contains the largest memorial to the victims of the 1904 General Slocum steamboat tragedy in which over 1,000 passengers lost their lives when the excursion boat caught fire in the East River.

    Kevin Walsh is the webmaster of Forgotten NY and the author of Forgotten New York and, with the Greater Astoria Historical Society, Forgotten Queens.



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