From Switzerland in America to Prominent Suburb: The History of Roslyn and Neighboring Communities

Cedarmere Park, Roslyn Harbor (July 13, 2014)
Cedarmere Park, Roslyn Harbor (July 13, 2014)

Once called Switzerland in America, Roslyn is currently a prominent Nassau County suburb that features historic structures, parks, and a railroad station.[1]  Preservation and the dedicated work of some local leaders maintained Roslyn’s quaintness.  The following is a look at Roslyn and adjoining communities from early settlement to modern times.

Early History

Originally, Roslyn was a Dutch-English settlement called Head of the Harbor, later renamed Hempstead Harbor.  In 1643, it is believed John Carman and Robert Fordham were the first Europeans to sail into the harbor landing in what is now modern-day Roslyn village.  More English colonists from Connecticut followed and pushed southward along what became Roslyn Road, an old Indian trail.  They established Hempstead several miles to the south in 1644.  Another early trail from Head of the Harbor ran west to Flushing along what is now North Hempstead Turnpike.[2]

Cedarmere estate, Roslyn Harbor (July 13, 2014)
Cedarmere estate, Roslyn Harbor (July 13, 2014)

The village of Hempstead Harbor was situated on the highest elevation of what is known as Wheatley Hills.  An old trust mill was the first community center.[3]  However, in 1701 a grist mill was constructed and the seaport grew in importance.[4]  Between 1701 and 1706, a mill dam was completed, which is currently still in use.[5]

Hempstead Harbor and Northern Boulevard By-Pass viaduct, Cedarmere estate, Roslyn Harbor (July 13, 2014)
Hempstead Harbor and Northern Boulevard By-Pass viaduct, Cedarmere estate, Roslyn Harbor (July 13, 2014)

A man named Hendrick Onderdonk came to Hempstead Harbor in 1752.  A prominent leader in the community, he operated a gristmill and two paper mills at Roslyn Creek and was later elected supervisor of the town of Hempstead.  George Washington visited Onderdonk in 1790 at the house of Dr. J.H. Bogart.  The building became known as George Washington Manor.[6]

The name Roslyn was adopted in 1844 at a meeting held at the house of August W. Leggitts.  It was selected because the landscape resembled Roslyn Castle in Scotland.  One of the townspeople in attendance was poet, author, and newspaperman William Cullen Bryant.  Bryant moved to New York in 1825 and became editor of the New York Review.  The following year he was one of the editors of the New York Evening Post.  Bryant bought the North Roslyn home of Quaker Richard Kirk and the adjoining forty acres in 1843.  Known as the Cedarmere, the estate is located on the harbor and was Bryant’s escape from city life in New York.  Bryant left a reading room to the local public library.[7]

Bryant was buried in Roslyn Cemetery.  Founded in 1861, the cemetery is located on the north side of Northern Boulevard in what was then called North Roslyn.  It was established when a grant was administered by the Board of Supervisors of Queens County.  The land was acquired when Mrs. Ann E. Cairns purchased four acres from Caleb Kirby and had him deed the property to the board of trustees of the Roslyn Presbyterian Church.  The trustees bought an additional ten acres in 1864 from Stephen Taber.[8]  Taber and his brother Samuel moved to Long Island and Stephen became owner of the Harbor Hill estate.  He was also a Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) director and advocated for a branch line through Roslyn.  He was invaluable in acquiring the right-of-way.[9]

Former Northern Boulevard toll house, Roslyn Cemetery (July 13, 2014)
Former Northern Boulevard toll house, Roslyn Cemetery (July 13, 2014)

The most notable monument in the cemetery is the bronze statue of a Civil War soldier atop a stone column.  Among the people interred, William Cullen Bryant’s grave is located on the hill to the east of the Civil War monument.  Writer Christopher Morley is also buried in the cemetery.[10]  Morley was one of Roslyn’s most celebrated citizens and the author of many essays, short stories, plays, and novels.  He came to Roslyn in the 1920s and lived for many years at 38 The Birches.  North of his home in the woods was his small cabin, named the “Knothole.”[11]

Civil War monument, Roslyn Cemetery (July 13, 2014)
Civil War monument, Roslyn Cemetery (July 13, 2014)

Before the Civil War, North Roslyn and the surrounding area was called Bull’s Head after the hotel-tavern that was located at present-day Northern Boulevard and Glen Cove Road.  Residents motioned to change the name and an 1873 map confirms a post office called Greenvale.  By the late nineteenth century, an agricultural community developed and, by the turn of the twentieth century, small commercial establishments moved in, including two plant nurseries.[12]

Roslyn in the Twentieth Century

By the turn of the twentieth century, the eastern shore of Hempstead Harbor featured the mansions of Cedarmere, Sycamore Lodge, Clover Croft, and Willowmere.[13]  Built in 1895, the Clock Tower was given to the community by the children of philanthropist Ellen Ward as a memorial in her honor.[14]

Roslyn Clock Tower (July 13, 2014)
Roslyn Clock Tower (July 13, 2014)

Transportation also developed.  The New York & North Shore Traction Company brought a trolley to Roslyn in 1907, which ran down the middle of Garden Street.  A Hicksville Branch was built in 1908 as well as a Flushing line in 1910.  The last trolley ran in April of 1920.[15]

By 1925, Roslyn village had a population of 4,800.[16]  Seeking control of zoning laws, the three small communities making up greater Roslyn were incorporated:  Roslyn Harbor and Roslyn Estates in 1931, and Roslyn village in 1932.[17]

A neighboring community to the southwest also incorporated in 1929, as North Hills.  It was established by English settlers who built a fence along what became Northern Boulevard in 1658.  The north side was a cow pasture and the south became a farming community known as North Hills.  One of the community’s most notable landmarks is Shelter Rock, a 1,800-ton boulder deposited by the glacier that created Long Island 11,000 years ago.  It is near Shelter Rock Road on the private estate of the late John Hay Whitney, publisher and ambassador to England.[18]

Shelter Rock, Village of North Hills (December 20, 2014)
Shelter Rock, Village of North Hills (December 20, 2014)

Modern Roslyn village owes to the efforts of Roger Gerry.  After coming to Roslyn in 1950, he recognized it as an historic gem and sought to restore the village to its early prominence.  An oral surgeon by occupation, he organized Roslyn Preservation Inc. which began purchasing threatened historic structures and selling them to buyers who renovated them.  Gerry also developed the Roslyn Landmark Society.  Among the buildings saved was Roslyn Mill which closed in the 1960s but later restored by Nassau County.[19]

Gerry Park, Roslyn (July 13, 2014)
Gerry Park, Roslyn (July 13, 2014)

Christopher Morley Park

One of the most prominent citizens in Roslyn was Christopher Morley who died in 1957.  As he battled to preserve the quaintness of Roslyn village, he was very much against projects such as the construction of the Northern Boulevard By-Pass viaduct, built between 1947 and 1949.[20]  For his community service, a county park is named in his honor.

Ice rink, Christopher Morley Park (December 24, 2012)
Ice rink, Christopher Morley Park (December 24, 2012)
Ice rink, Christopher Morley Park (December 24, 2012)
Ice rink, Christopher Morley Park (December 24, 2012)

The park, located primarily in the village of North Hills and borders Roslyn Estates, was initially an estate.  Known as Cassleigh, its owners were Mr. & Mrs. Cass Canfield who had a Georgian Revival mansion constructed by architect Charles McKim from the firm McKim, Mead, & White in 1903.  It was later sold to John Dennis Ryan and his wife Nettie Gardner who changed its name to Derrymore.[21]  Ryan was the chairman of the board at Anaconda Copper Company.[22]  Under his ownership, the Derrymore mansion experienced a fire on March 25, 1937 that destroyed an estimated $150,000 worth of furniture and paintings.[23]

Ice rink hearth room, Christopher Morley Park (December 24, 2012)
Ice rink hearth room, Christopher Morley Park (December 24, 2012)

The story of its transformation to a park begins in February of 1961 when Nassau Executive A. Holly Patterson announced that the county was to acquire two tracts of land in the town of North Hempstead and convert them to public parkland.  Purchased or obtained through condemnation, one was in Port Washington while the other was the former Ryan estate.[24]  In August of 1962, Nickerson approved final plans for the new hundred-acre site to be named Ryan Park.[25]

Meanwhile, a group of local residents attempted to preserve the small studio used by Christopher Morley.  Located in a wooded area on his estate, the rustic one-room cabin called the Knothole was his retreat and where he wrote the famed “Kitty Foyle.”  Following Morley’s death, Thomas Wiehl, Jr. purchased the estate.  In an effort to preserve the Knothole as a museum, Mrs. Clifford Curran of the Morley Memorial Committee planned to raise $10,000 to buy and preserve it.  At first, it was undetermined where the renovated Knothole was to be relocated.[26]  However, in March of 1962, Nassau County Executive Eugene H. Nickerson approved the proposal to move it to the new park.[27]  By September the following year, the county Board of Supervisors decided to name the park to honor Morley.  The Knothole was planned to be the principal attraction of the park, with moving expenses and refurbishing provided by the Christopher Morley Knothole Association.  Built in 1934, the cabin door features a quote in Latin: ASSIDVVS BIBLIOTHECA QVAE TIBI PARADISI LOCO ETC, which translates as “be assiduous in the library, which is a place of paradise.”[28]

Knothole, Christopher Morley Park (December 19, 2014)
Knothole, Christopher Morley Park (December 19, 2014)

With the hard-surfaced portion completed, Christopher Morley Park opened to the public in early 1965.  The playground and game tables, as well as the handball, tennis, basketball, and shuffleboard courts were ready for use.  The ball fields opened June 1.  The park also featured a wooded trail.[29]  By November, workmen were installing almost eight miles of refrigerant piping for the eighty-by-two-hundred foot multi-purpose rink, scheduled to be completed in May of 1966.[30]  A nine-hole golf course and model boat basin were added as well.  Also, beginning in 1966 the North Shore Junior Science Museum utilized the park for science sessions.[31]

Boat basin and golf course, Christopher Morley Park (August 19, 1971)
Boat basin and golf course, Christopher Morley Park (August 19, 1971)

The four-sided clock tower neared completion in November of 1966 as workmen hoisted four 185-pound clocks in place.  Symbolic of the older tower in Roslyn village, the new clock tower was to be the park’s center and most recognizable landmark.[32]  In 1967, the Knothole finally opened in a public ceremony on Sunday, May 14.  One of the guests and speakers was Morley’s friend R. Buckminster Fuller who designed both the United States pavilion at the World’s Expo ‘67 and the prefabricated bathroom in the cabin.[33]

Clock tower, Christopher Morley Park (Circa 1984)
Clock tower, Christopher Morley Park (Circa 1984)

The last major construction at the park was the outdoor swimming facility.  To be located north of the ice rink in an unused area, the cost was estimated at $850,000 in a May 1968 preliminary report.  It was to feature a 164-by-175 foot Olympic-size pool, a fifty-two-by-seventy-five foot diving tank, and a children’s spray pool.[34]

Pool deck, Christopher Morley Park (August 19, 1971)
Pool deck, Christopher Morley Park (August 19, 1971)

In light of a delay, construction plans were finally approved by Nickerson in September of 1969.  The cost was raised to $1,430,000 as the complex was to have a playground and training pool.  The inaugural season was 1971.  Looking unchanged since it opened, the pool deck is bordered by three rows of stepped sun bleachers and features an overhead screen area for sun protection.  The exterior masonry is pre-cast concrete sandwich-panels.  The pool-filtering equipment is housed in a room previously constructed for that purpose in the administration building.[35]

Spray pool and playground, Christopher Morley Park (August 19, 1971)
Spray pool and playground, Christopher Morley Park (August 19, 1971)
Pool deck, Christopher Morley Park (Circa 1984)
Pool deck, Christopher Morley Park (Circa 1984)
Diving tank, Christopher Morley Park (Circa 1986)
Diving tank, Christopher Morley Park (Circa 1986)

Throughout the 1970s, Christopher Morley Park grew in importance.  During the fuel shortage in 1973, Nassau County designated the park as a major parking facility in attempts to help resident car pools, considered the easiest and most convenient way to conserve gasoline.[36]  In July of 1977 and 1978, the Goldman Band appeared at Morley on Thursday evenings from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. performing standards of George M. Cohan, Irving Berlin, Victor Herbert, Jerome Kern, Richard Rodgers, and George Gershwin.  The Goldman Band had performed free summer concerts in New York City parks since 1918.[37]

Outdoor concert, Christopher Morley Park (July 7, 1977)
Outdoor concert, Christopher Morley Park (July 7, 1977)

While the park infrastructure has gone unchanged over the years, there were some additions.  Beginning the winter season of 1979 and 1980, cross-country skiing is available in the nature trails, snow permitting.[38]  A seasonal farmers market was added on Wednesdays in 2008[39] and a new playground was installed in 2010.[40]  In fact, Morley was added to the list of perpetually-preserved areas, barring forever any development.[41]  It was one of four outdoor pools slated to benefit a $26 million facelift beginning in 1996.  Unfortunately, funds were unavailable by 1999 and the park remained as is.[42]

Miniature golf, Christopher Morley Park (Circa 1986)
Miniature golf, Christopher Morley Park (Circa 1986)

Long Island Rail Road Service to Roslyn

LIRR service to Roslyn and adjoining communities commenced in the Civil War era.  While it was extended to Oyster Bay later in the century, the branch line from Mineola was completed as far as Glen Cove in 1865.  With the assistance of landowner and railroad board member Stephen Taber, the route traversed Roslyn.  A depot building was built in 1864 in an area known as Bunker Hill and the station opened on January 23, 1865.  The nearby Roslyn Road stone overpass was completed by Samuel Dungan in the same year. The depot building was remodeled and moved in the summer of 1885 to accommodate a new freight station. In 1905 a second track was added to Roslyn and in 1908 it was extended to Glen Cove. A new eastbound platform was added to the station adjacent to the new south tracks. A shelter shed was erected on the new eastbound platform in 1928. The platform was later extended in 1945.[43]

Roslyn Station
Historical Fact
Date
Depot building constructed 1864
Station and depot building opened January 23, 1865
Depot building relocated Summer 1885
Depot building razed 1887
Depot building replaced May-July 1887
Depot building remodeled 1922
Shelter shed erected (on the eastbound platform) 1928
Shelter shed razed 1988 (author’s analysis)
Depot building relocated December 8, 1988
Depot building renovated 1989
Depot building opened July 30, 1990
Station agency closed November 20, 1996 (author’s analysis)
Twin high-level concrete platform and ramp construction began March 3, 1997 (author’s analysis)
Twin high-level concrete platform and ramp construction completed Fall 1997 (author’s analysis)

The original depot was demolished in 1887.  A new, grander structure was planned and work began in May of 1887 and was completed in July.  In a High Victorian style, the brick structure featured a cast-iron cresting along the ridge roof which terminated in an iron pinnacle at each end.  A marble imitation sign with the name Roslyn was on the front of the building.  Originally thought to be the work of architect Samuel Adams Warner, the designer is presently not known.[44]

A railroad bridge over the Northern State Parkway in Roslyn Heights was constructed for the Oyster Bay Branch right-of-way. The steel and stone-faced structure was built by Norwin Construction Company in early 1934 at a cost of $53,459 and the three-mile, four-lane extension of the road from Willis Avenue to Carle Place opened on August 29, 1934. During 1967 and 1968 the trestle was reconstructed by Hendrickson Brothers, Inc. to accommodate the widening of the roadway to six lanes. The entire five-mile project was completed in late 1969 at a cost of $16,480,011.[45]

Just north of the parkway, the Oyster Bay Branch crosses over the eight-lane Long Island Expressway and it’s four-lane service road. The eastbound roadway was the site of Power House Road (formerly Priors Road) and the first railroad bridge was constructed in 1902. For construction of the six-lane expressway in 1956, Power House Road was converted to eastbound lanes and westbound lanes were built on the road’s north side. A long steel trestle carried the railroad over the new roadway and its service roads. In October 1958, the first Nassau County expressway section opened from the Queens border to Glen Cove Road in East Hills. The Oyster Bay Branch trestle was reconstructed for the expressway’s HOV (high-occupancy vehicle) lane in 2003 as part of the LIE Capacity Improvement Project. The new “fourth lane” opened in each direction from the Queens border to Jericho Turnpike on June 30, 2005.[46]

LIRR Roslyn Station depot building, view south (May 18, 2014)
LIRR Roslyn Station depot building, view south (May 18, 2014)

There have been some changes to the depot building over the years.  In 1921, railroad architect Henry W. Retlien, Jr. prepared two modernization proposals dated May 25.  Changes were finally made in 1922, in the Queen Anne Revival style.  In 1940, Christopher Morley asserted that the depot’s brickwork was covered with “dull, mud-colored stucco” that needed to be removed.  His protests were obliged and the railroad removed the stucco.  In 1981, the railroad painted the building in its original gray paint color.  To honor their work, the Landmark Society held a reception for the LIRR on September 23 of that year.[47]

LIRR Roslyn Station waiting room (May 18, 2014)
LIRR Roslyn Station waiting room (May 18, 2014)

A major undertaking at the station transpired in the late 1980s.  As part of an urban-renewal program that began in the late 1960s, a parking lot, station relocation, and other upgrades were planned.  As part of the project, an agreement was signed between the LIRR and local leaders that the depot building would be moved rather than torn down.  Bob Brown, partner of Sidney Browne & Son, consulting engineers, was the project manager who coordinated the work of several government agencies and the railroad.  One phase was the construction of a 225-car parking lot.  The second moved both the station and depot building 400-feet south.  Lastly, a grade crossing was eliminated, converting Orchard Street into a dead-end where the railroad built a pedestrian overpass.[48]

The depot building was moved to its new location on December 8, 1988.  It was finally reopened on July 30, 1990 with low-level platforms on each side of the track. While railroad officials claimed the new location would feature four-foot-high station platforms, they were not added at this time.[49]

Following station changes, residents were disappointed.  They anticipated revitalization work to include a village center of neighborhood stores and a park.  The civic association regarded the pedestrian overpass as an eyesore and contended that there was no need for a parking lot four times the size of the former commuter lot.  Additionally, since both Orchard and Garden Streets were now closed off, students from Roslyn High and other schools in the area were forced to walk along congested Warner Avenue.  Indeed, Roslyn area civic groups picketed the railroad station site and North Hempstead Town Hall on May 24, 1989.  However, the town of North Hempstead insisted that the work was in compliance with plans as modified in 1981.  Officials said the new parking lot, office building, and related roadwork were the end of a twenty-year effort to clean up one of the most “unsavory” parts of town.  Then-supervisor Sol Wachtler sought to end the decay and crime in the station and Roslyn Heights areas.  Wachtler convinced the town to purchase the depot building, for a reported $1, and move it 300-yards south in order for the area to be developed. LIRR spokeswoman Susan McGowan said the pedestrian overpass was mandated as a condition for moving the station since the railroad wanted to eliminate illegal track crossing. In the end, the railroad paid for about $611,000 of the $1.4 million cost of the project, which didn’t include station relocation.[50]

Long Island Rail Road Service to Greenvale

LIRR service to the Greenvale area began in 1866 with the introduction of a freight depot along the branch called Week’s Station.  The station appears on an 1875 timetable as Greenvale.  Located 1.97 miles north of Roslyn Station at the crossing of Bryant Avenue, regular passenger service began in the 1880s.  In fact there was a small shed that was later destroyed by an engine.  No depot building was built. The existing platform became the westbound platform when a second track was added in 1908 and a new eastbound platform was erected.[51]

Greenvale Station
Historical Fact
Date
Station opened as a freight house named
Week’s Station
1866
Passenger service began as Greenvale Station 1875 (timetable)
Three-sided, saltbox-roofed wooden passenger shelter erected (on the westbound platform) 1921
Wooden passenger shelter remodeled Mid-1960s (author’s analysis)
Wooden passenger shelter remodeled (with a hipped roof) Late 1980s (author’s analysis)
Wooden passenger shelter razed Sometime between Fall 1997 & Fall 1998 (author’s analysis)
Twin high-level concrete platform and ramp construction began (each with a large shed-roofed passenger waiting area shelter and information center made of steel and enamel painted mint and light beige) Fall 1997 – Fall 1998 (author’s analysis)
LIRR Greenvale Station, westbound high-level platform passenger shelter, view north (June 22, 2014)
LIRR Greenvale Station, westbound high-level platform passenger shelter, view north (June 22, 2014)

Just north of the station, a railroad bridge was constructed in 1906 over Glen Cove Back Road. The sixty-eight foot wooden structure was later rebuilt to conform with Nassau County’s plan for the construction of Glen Cove Road from Northern Boulevard to Glen Cove. The railroad first gave approval for a new span in 1947 when construction was estimated at $144,400. However, it was submitted by Nassau County in 1951 to conform with the proposed road. While the Public Service Commission once again authorized a bridge, an architectural agreement was needed between the county and the railroad. Indeed, the railroad agreed in December 1951 to get rid of the pillars that were planned for the center of the roadway and perform some realignment that connected two streets to both the east and west of the route. County appropriation of funds delayed progress for a few years and the span was finally constructed in 1955 at a cost of well over $200,000.[52]

Along the current Greenvale border with what is now Roslyn Harbor, another station was adopted in 1897.  It was located north of Northern Boulevard and just east of Motts Cove Road, on the south side of the track along Roslyn Cemetery.  A frame depot was erected in 1898. Named Wheatley Hills, it opened June 17, 1897 when new summer timetables took effect.  The site was donated by Johnston Bros. of Brooklyn.  With the arrival of prominent citizens to the area, the cost of equipment and construction of the station was provided largely by residents. A new eastbound platform was added when the right-of-way was double-tracked to Glen Cove in 1908. The existing platform became the westbound platform. During double tracking of the branch, the tracks were elevated above Motts Cove Road on a trestle just west of the station. The road later became part of New York Route 25A until it was redirected to current Northern Boulevard and an additional trestle was constructed just west of Motts Cove Road in 1937.[53]

North Roslyn Station
Historical Fact
Date
Station opened June 17, 1897
Depot building opened 1898
Renamed North Roslyn Station 1901
Station closed By October 16, 1921 (timetable)

While most, if not all, branch trains stopped at Roslyn Station, both Greenvale and Wheatley Hills typically received less service.  On summer timetables of 1898, Roslyn had roughly a dozen station stops in each direction, Monday through Saturdays.  Wheatley Hills had nine both ways, with an extra eastbound train on summer Saturdays and one westbound on Wednesday and Saturday evenings.  Sunday service at Wheatley Hills was all flag stop, with six westbound and five eastbound.  Over at Greenvale, there were only four trains in each direction Monday through Saturdays, predominately flag stops.  Sundays scheduled only two trains both ways.[54]

Over the years, service somewhat reversed.  While it increased at Greenvale, it reduced at Wheatley Hills, whose name was changed to North Roslyn in 1901.  For example, in the daily Monday through Saturday 1903 timetable service to Greenvale was solely in the morning, with one eastbound flag stop and both a station and flag stop westbound.  At North Roslyn, eastbound service was two flag stops and a single station stop.  Westbound there were three station stops and a single flag stop.[55]  However, by 1914 Greenvale eastbound service included one morning station stop and three evening flag stops.  Westbound, there were two morning trains, one flag and one station stop.  Undoubtedly, following the advent of service to New York’s Pennsylvania Station, the schedule favored a commuter rush-hour ride to and from points west.  Over at North Roslyn, service was solely flag stop, with five eastbound and three westbound.[56] In 1929 the railroad requested the station be eliminated. At a public hearing before the State Public Service Commission in April 1921, residents consented to station abandonment provided there was an increase in service at Greenvale. North Roslyn was no longer listed as a station stop in employee timetables effective October 16, 1921.[57] According to author Vincent F. Seyfried, the station was discontinued in 1924.[58]

Location of the former LIRR North Roslyn Station, view southeast (September 5, 2016)
Location of the former LIRR North Roslyn Station, view southeast (September 5, 2016)
Location of the former LIRR North Roslyn Station, view north (December 20, 2014)
Location of the former LIRR North Roslyn Station, view north (December 20, 2014)

While its sister station was no longer, service to Greenvale continued to expand in light of area development in the 1920s.   In 1925, the Lewis Homes Company of Manhattan organized a syndicate of New York investors who planned to purchase property surrounding Greenvale Station.  They hoped to establish an exclusive residential section of several hundred acres.  A group of stores was also planned as well as a golf course.  Incorporation of the village was anticipated but never happened.[59]

In the postwar era, Greenvale became a regular station stop on the Oyster Bay Branch.  In 1951, only a few trains skipped Greenvale.[60]  By 1958, all Oyster Bay trains made station or flag stops.[61]  Although it was rumored that the railroad pondered closing the station in the early 1960s, the Greenvale Chamber of Commerce received a letter in mid-January of 1963 from the vice president of the railroad’s passenger division, H.A. Weiss, announcing that Greenvale Station would prevail.  Additionally, the railroad planned to improve the parking area, passenger shelter, and platforms. The three-sided, saltbox-roofed wooden passenger shelter on the westbound platform, erected in 1921, was remodeled to feature interior lighting. Another renovation in the late-1980s added open-air windows and a new hipped roof.[62]

Roslyn and Greenvale Stations in the Late Twentieth Century and Today

Both Roslyn and Greenvale Stations received upgrades at the close of the twentieth century to accommodate a new diesel fleet.  However, in order to reduce its operating budget, the LIRR planned to close thirty-two ticket agencies on April 1, 1996 identified as low-volume in sales.  High-volume stations were those with ticket sales averaging 30,000 to 40,000 per month while low-volume sold less than 3,000.  Vending machines were scheduled to replace ticket sellers and part of a new method of station maintenance that was expected to save both Nassau and Suffolk $1 million a year.[63]

In response, Nassau County and three organizations for the disabled sued, contending that visually-impaired riders incurred “irreparable harm” because of the absence of ticket clerks.  After a hearing, Judge Leonard D. Wexler of Federal District Court in Hauppauge issued an injunction on May 30.[64]  Nevertheless, the preliminary injunction, which prohibited the LIRR from using vending machines, was overturned in early September.[65]  Since it was considered a low-volume station, and because all freight operations on the Oyster Bay Branch ceased back in mid-1982, the Roslyn agency closed as of November 20, 1996.[66]  However, the station waiting room remained open weekdays from 5:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.[67]

Railroad budget concerns were due to a new capital improvement project.  The Oyster Bay Branch, together with other LIRR non-electrified routes, was scheduled to receive new rolling stock of 134 Kawasaki coaches and forty-six locomotives, twenty-three of which were dual-mode.  Currently in service as of 2014, the dual-mode locomotives have the ability for the diesel engine to be shut down and propulsion current picked up from the third rail where electric cars receive their power.  At long last, Oyster Bay passengers have the ability of a one-seat ride to New York City on select trains.[68]

Since the 1970s, LIRR diesel motive power was on the east end of most consists while the west end locomotive was used as an operating location.  However, as part of a new concept, the new fleet is equipped with a west end “cab control” coach.  While it resembles the other train cars, it has a fully-equipped console.  Whether being driven from the east end or the west end, the full interior seating space of the “cab control” coach is available to passengers.[69]

Currently in service, the new coaches are double-deckers, or bi-level.  High-level platforms to accommodate them were required for several reasons.  First, the American Disability Act (ADA) mandated that facilities must be handicapped accessible.  The older diesel coaches had small vestibules and steps on each end to reach ground level, not allowing wheelchairs.  Secondly, the new Kawasaki cars had no steps but featured a large vestibule for wheelchair use.  ADA compliancy made boarding time faster because a larger vestibule, wider access, and lack of steps reduced station dwell time and sped service.  It also reduced the number of potential accidents when passengers entered and exited the train.[70]

The Kawasaki cars are stainless steel trimmed in a bold double sash of medium blue lengthwise along the middle of the car.  There are four large sliding doors per car.  Upon entry, the vestibule-end of the coach matches the height of the platform.  While some vestibules feature a large bathroom that is wheelchair accessible, all cars have seating for wheelchair passengers.  The other vestibule-end has two pairs of facing seats, access to store luggage, and a crew area for operation.  The center of the car is the bi-level portion with comfortable and roomy two-by-two accommodations.  There are illuminated signs and public announcements are made.[71]

The LIRR had double-decked electric cars in the 1930s.  The unpopular design had a single level aisle where one entered a seating area either a couple of steps up or down to a compartment that had two seats facing each other.  Difficult to keep clean, they were discontinued.[72]

At Roslyn Station, work on two four-foot high platforms, one eastbound and one westbound adjacent to the depot building, began on March 3, 1997.  At the time, approximately 230 customers used the station during the morning rush-hour.  In the first phase, half of each low-level platform, the eastbound and the westbound, was closed from the depot building to Lincoln Avenue to allow for construction.  When new sections were finished and opened for service, the southern half of each low-level platform was closed and the new high-level platform completed.  During the first phase, a temporary pedestrian crossing was built near the station building extending over the tracks since the overpass was taken out of service for modifications and reopened during the second phase.  In addition to the four-and-a-half car-length platforms, new staircases, new lighting, a ramp for the physically-challenged, and a public address system were installed.[73]  Finally, new station signs were added on June 3, 1998 and a new roof was installed over the depot building.[74]

LIRR Roslyn Station, view south (May 18, 2014)
LIRR Roslyn Station, view south (May 18, 2014)

Two high-level platforms, complete with passenger shelter and information center, were also installed at Greenvale Station as well as a pedestrian tunnel under the tracks.  For construction of the four-car-length platforms, one of the Oyster Bay tracks was taken out of service during the midday hours beginning March 16, 1998.  Train intervals increased to approximately two hours.  Work was scheduled to be completed and full service restored by September of 1998.[75]

LIRR Greenvale Station, high-level platforms, view south (June 22, 2014)
LIRR Greenvale Station, high-level platforms, view south (June 22, 2014)

The Oyster Bay Branch was the first non-electrified line with the new bi-level cars and diesel engines operating on a regularly scheduled basis in the beginning of 1999.[76]  All other territories followed.

LIRR Greenvale Station westbound high-level platform and EMD DE30AC number 422, view south (June 22, 2014)
LIRR Greenvale Station westbound high-level platform and EMD DE30AC number 422, view south (June 22, 2014)

 

Next page: Oyster Bay, Mill Neck, and Syosset: The History of Long Island Rail Road Service to Northeastern Nassau County

 
________________________________________________________________

[1] Henry Isham Hazelton, The Boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, Counties of Nassau and Suffolk, Long Island, New York, 1609-1924 (New York: Lewis Historical, 1925), 914.

[2] Rhoda Amon, “Roslyn: Making History, and Preserving It,” in Our Story, Home Town Long Island: the History of Every Community on Long Island in Stories and Photographs (Melville, NY: Newsday, 1999), 43; Roy W. Moger, Roslyn — Then and Now (Roslyn, NY: The Bryant Library, 1992), 3-4.

[3] Hazelton, The Boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, Counties of Nassau and Suffolk, 914-916.

[4] Moger, Roslyn, 5.

[5] Ibid., 28.

[6] Amon, “Roslyn,” 43; Hazelton, The Boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, Counties of Nassau and Suffolk, 914-916.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Moger, Roslyn, 110-112.

[9] Ibid., 120.

[10] Ibid., 110-112.

[11] Ibid., 141.

[12] Staff of Long Island, Our Story, Home Town Long Island: the History of Every Community on Long Island in Stories and Photographs (Melville, NY: Newsday, 1999), 35.

[13] Moger, Roslyn, 86.

[14] Ibid., 8.

[15] Ibid., 132-135.

[16] Hazelton, The Boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, Counties of Nassau and Suffolk, 914-916.

[17] Amon, “Roslyn,” 32.

[18] Staff of Long Island, Our Story, Home Town Long Island, 40.

[19] Amon, “Roslyn,” 43.

[20] Moger, Roslyn, 145-146.

[21] “Ryan Estate – John D.,” from the Bryant Library Local History Collection (Roslyn, NY); “North Shore Estates Surname Entries,” from the Bryant Library Local History Collection (Roslyn, NY).

[22] “$200,000 Fire at Ryan Home in Roslyn  Destroys Art Works,” from the Bryant Library Local History Collection (Roslyn, NY).

[23] “Burns at Roslyn; Loss in $150,000,” March 26, 1937, from the Bryant Library Local History Collection (Roslyn, NY).

[24] Roy R. Silver, “Nassau to Build Parks on 2 Sites: Tracts Are in North Hills and Port Washington,” New York Times (1923-Current file), February 28, 1961, http://www.proquest.com.

[25] “Plans Adopted for 100-Acre Ryan Park,” August 29, 1962, from the Bryant Library Local History Collection (Roslyn, NY).

[26] “Group Acts to Save Cabin Morley Used in Roslyn Heights,” New York Times (1857-Current file), February 18, 1961, http://www.proquest.com.

[27] “Morley Studio to Move,” New York Times (1857-Current file), March 21, 1962, http://www.proquest.com.

[28] “Centerpiece for New Park on L.I.,” New York Times (1857-Current file), September 3, 1963, http://www.proquest.com.

[29] “Morley Park Partly Open,” April 22, 1965, from the Bryant Library Local History Collection (Roslyn, NY).

[30] “Ice Skating Rink,” November 25, 1965, from the Bryant Library Local History Collection (Roslyn, NY).

[31] “Jr. Museum Sets Courses,” January 13, 1966, from the Bryant Library Local History Collection (Roslyn, NY).

[32] “Time’s Up,” November 10, 1966, from the Bryant Library Local History Collection (Roslyn, NY).

[33] “Morley’s Writing Cabin To Be Historical Site,” New York Times (1857-Current file), May 20, 1967, http://www.proquest.com.

[34] “At Morley,” May 9, 1968, from the Bryant Library Local History Collection (Roslyn, NY).

[35] “Pool Complex at Morley,” September 25, 1969, from the Bryant Library Local History Collection (Roslyn, NY); “Big Splash,” October 15, 1970, from the Bryant Library Local History Collection (Roslyn, NY).

[36] Paul L. Montgomery, “Rallying Cry for Fuel Crisis: Everybody into a Pool!,” New York Times (1857-Current file), December 27, 1973, http://www.proquest.com.

[37] Raymond Ericson, “Ainslee Cox Strikes Up the Goldman Band: Virtuosity in the Band,” New York Times (1923-Current file), July 7, 1978, http://www.proquest.com.

[38] “Park Opens Skiing Trails,” 1979, from the Bryant Library Local History Collection (Roslyn, NY).

[39] “Farmers Market New to Christopher Morley,” June 19, 2008, from the Bryant Library Local History Collection (Roslyn, NY).

[40] “Grist Mill Renovation Underway: Park Improvements at Christopher Morley,” August 5, 2010, from the Bryant Library Local History Collection (Roslyn, NY).

[41] “County Adds the Christopher Morley Park to List of Perpetually Preserved Parks,” June 29, 1989, from the Bryant Library Local History Collection (Roslyn, NY).

[42] “$26M Tapped Out for Christopher Morley,” August 5, 1999, from the Bryant Library Local History Collection (Roslyn, NY).

[43] “Roslyn Railroad Station,” article on display at Roslyn Station (Roslyn, NY); Box 5, Book 19, Robert M. Emery Long Island Rail Road Collection, Special Collections, Stony Brook University Libraries; “Branch Notes,” Trains are Fun, accessed on March 16, 2016, http://www.trainsarefun.com/lirr/branchnotes.htme; “LIRR Station History,” Trains are Fun, accessed June 12, 2017, http://www.trainsarefun.com/lirrphotos/LIRR%20STATION%20HISTORY.pdf.

[44] Ibid.

[45] “Making Final Move for Parkway Route,” Patchogue Advance, September 8, 1933, http://apa3.olivesoftware.com; “Northern Parkway Section to he Opened August 29th,” Suffolk County News (Sayville), August 24, 1934, http://apa3.olivesoftware.com; “Raids and Fines of L.I. Produce and Fowl Result in Fines and Jail Terms,” Patchogue Advance, November 17, 1933, http://apa3.olivesoftware.com; Box 5, Book 19, Robert M. Emery Long Island Rail Road Collection, Special Collections, Stony Brook University Libraries; “Northern State Parkway: Historic Overview,” NYCRoads.com, accessed on August 23, 2016, http://www.nycroads.com/roads/northern/; “Soon Just Normal Delays,” Newsday (1940-1988), June 20, 1969, http://www.proquest.com; “Contract Let in $16 Million Parkway Job,” Newsday (1940-1988), January 13, 1967, http://www.proquest.com.

[46] Box 5, Book 19, Robert M. Emery Long Island Rail Road Collection, Special Collections, Stony Brook University Libraries; “Long Island Expressway: Historic Overview,” NYCRoads.com, accessed on August 22, 2016, http://www.nycroads.com/roads/long-island/; John Valenti, “A Bumper Crop Of Roadwok,” Newsday (Combined editions), April 11, 2002, http://www.proquest.com; Kim Navafiorio, “Life in the Slow Lane,” Newsday (Combined editions), April 27, 2003, http://www.proquest.com; Joie Tyrrell, “Weekend Closure Of LIE,” Newsday (Combined editions), February 20, 2004, http://www.proquest.com.

[47] “Branch Notes.”

[48] Evelyn Philips, “A ‘New’ Roslyn Is Emerging,” New York Times (1923-Current file), November 20, 1988, http://www.proquest.com.

[49] “The Roslyn Long Island Railroad Station,” Roslyn News, December 8, 1988, from the Bryant Library Local History Collection (Roslyn, NY); “Roslyn Train Station, Originally Built in 1887, Has Been Reopened for Business,” Roslyn News, August 16, 1990, from the Bryant Library Local History Collection (Roslyn, NY)..

[50] Stuart Vincent, “Paving over Municipal Dream Civic Groups Rue Parking Lot in Urban Renewal Area,” Newsday (Combined Editions), May 24, 1989, http://www.proquest.com.

[51] Vincent F. Seyfried, The Long Island Rail Road: A Comprehensive History, vol. 6, The Golden Age 1881-1900 (Garden City, NY: Seyfried, 1984), 277; Box 5, Book 19, Robert M. Emery Long Island Rail Road Collection; “Branch Notes.”

[52] “LIRR Set to Start Greenvale Bridge Job,” Newsday (1940-1988), December 10, 1951, http://www.proquest.com; “PSC Ends Hearing on Railroad Bridge,” Newsday (1940-1988), July 3, 1951, http://www.proquest.com; “Board to Act on Purchase of Site for Station House,” Newsday (1940-1988), May 7, 1953, http://www.proquest.com; Box 5, Book 19, Robert M. Emery Long Island Rail Road Collection; “Supervisors Slated to OK Road Projects,” Newsday (1940-1988), June 3, 1953, http://www.proquest.com; “Nassau Road Contracts,” Long-Islander (Huntington), April 12, 1929, http://apa3.olivesoftware.com.

[53] Box 5, Book 19, Robert M. Emery Long Island Rail Road Collection; “A Negro Drowned at Huntington,” South Side Signal (Sayville), July 3, 1897, http://apa3.olivesoftware.com; Seyfried, The Long Island Rail Road: A Comprehensive History, vol. 6, 276; Box 5, Book 19, Robert M. Emery Long Island Rail Road Collection; “Branch Notes.”

[54] Robert M. Emery Long Island Rail Road Collection, Box 13, Special Collections, Stony Brook University Libraries, Oyster Bay Branch, Effective June 23, 1898, by Long Island Rail Road (New York: Long Island Rail Road, 1898).

[55] Seyfried, The Long Island Rail Road: A Comprehensive History, vol. 6, 276; Long Island Railroad Company, Long Island Railroad Company Time Table No. 26, For the Government and Information of Employees Only, in effect 12.01 A.M., Wednesday, May 27th, 1903 (New York: Long Island Railroad Company, 1903), Oyster Branch.

[56] Robert M. Emery Long Island Rail Road Collection, Box 13, Special Collections, Stony Brook University Libraries, Oyster Bay Branch, Effective July 1, 1914, by Long Island Rail Road (New York: Long Island Rail Road, 1914).

[57] “State Funds for Bridge,” East Hampton Star, April 29, 1921, http://apa3.olivesoftware.com; Robert M. Emery Long Island Rail Road Collection, Box 14, Special Collections, Stony Brook University Libraries, Long Island Railroad Time Table No. 95, Effective October 16, 1921, by Long Island Rail Road (New York: Long Island Rail Road, 1921).

[58] Seyfried, The Long Island Rail Road: A Comprehensive History, vol. 6, 276.

[59] Syndicate Will Take Tract in Greenvale,” Long Islander (Huntington), July 10, 1925, http://apa3.olivesoftware.com.

[60] Long Island Rail Road, Schedule in Effect September 9, 1951, Long Island Rail Road, William H. Draper, Jr., Trustee, Time Tables (New York: Long Island Rail Road, 1951), Oyster Bay Branch.

[61] Long Island Rail Road, Schedule in Effect September 2, 1958, Long Island Rail Road Time Tables (New York: Long Island Rail Road, 1958), Oyster Bay Branch.

[62] “RR Will Continue Stop at Greenvale and Improve Area,” Roslyn News, January 23, 1963, from the Bryant Library Local History Collection (Roslyn, NY); “Greenvale 1937 Collection: Robert Andersen,” Trains are Fun, accessed September 24, 2015, http://www.trainsarefun.com/lirr/lirrshelter/greenvaleshelter1937.jpg; “MP15ac #153 on push-pull train at station, Greenvale – 9-16-80 (Dave Keller archive),” Trains are Fun, accessed September 24, 2015, http://www.trainsarefun.com/lirr/lirrshelter/MP15ac%20153-Push-Pull-Train-Greenvale-9-16-80.jpg; “Greenvale station shelter shed and low-level platforms – June, 1987,” Trains are Fun, accessed September 24, 2015, http://www.trainsarefun.com/lirr/lirrshelter/Station-Shelter-Shed-Greenvale-6-87.jpg; Railroad Video Productions, Long Island Rail Road: Jamaica to Oyster Bay (Leola, PA: Railroad Video Productions, 1994); Box 5, Book 19, Robert M. Emery Long Island Rail Road Collection, Special Collections, Stony Brook University Libraries.

[63] Carol Paquette, “L.I.R.R. Moving to Drop 32 more Ticket Windows,” New York Times (1923-Current file), January 14, 1996, http://www.proquest.com.

[64] Stewart Ain, “Ticket Agents now Helping Riders Use Machines,” New York Times (1923-Current file), August 4, 1996, http://www.proquest.com.

[65] “Long Island Rail Road Ticket Vendors Out Again,” Suffolk County News, September 12, 1996, http://apa3.olivesoftware.com.

[66] Phil Mintz, “LIRR Machines Replace Vendors,” Newsday (Combined Editions), November 7, 1996, http://www.proquest.com; Marie Cocco, “LIRR Updates Freight Car Repairs,” Newsday (1940-1988), May 6, 1982, http://www.proquest.com.

[67] “Roslyn RR Ticket Office to Shut Down,” Roslyn News, November 14, 1996, from the Bryant Library Local History Collection (Roslyn, NY).

[68] Walter G. Karppi, “Riding the New LIRR: Oyster Bay Gets a Glimpse of the Future,” Oyster Bay Enterprise Pilot, January 14, 1999.

[69] Ibid.

[70] Ibid.

[71] Ibid.

[72] Ibid.

[73] “LIRR Renovations Underway,” Roslyn News, March 6, 1997, from the Bryant Library Local History Collection (Roslyn, NY).

[74] “Renovations at LIRR Station,” Roslyn News, June 11, 1998, from the Bryant Library Local History Collection (Roslyn, NY).

[75] “New LIRR Schedules in Effect March 16,” Mineola American, March 11, 1998, AviationMetalSmith, “Long Island RR Construction,” YouTube, accessed March 21, 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ziow3j5Balk; MTA Long Island Rail Road, Timetable No.1, effective: 12:01 a.m. Monday, June 18, 2001 for the Government of Employees Only (MTA Long Island Rail Road: New York, 2001).

[76] Karppi, “Riding the New LIRR.”

 

Next page: Oyster Bay, Mill Neck, and Syosset: The History of Long Island Rail Road Service to Northeastern Nassau County

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2 thoughts on “From Switzerland in America to Prominent Suburb: The History of Roslyn and Neighboring Communities

  1. This is a good history of Roslyn, NY. But, the photo you show of Cedarmere is really the 145-acre estate of Childs and Frances Frick. The Fricks’ their four children there. In 1900, Lloyd Stephens Bryce commissioned architect Ogden Codman, Jr., to construct the house that is today Nassau County’s art museum. Bryce sold the mansion 19 years later to Henry Clay Frick, cofounder of U.S. Steel Corporation, who bought it for his son Childs Frick. As proprietors, Childs Frick, an avid
    horticulturist and paleontologist, and his wife, Frances, passionate about gardening, transformed the estate into a vibrant, dynamic home.

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