“O Babylon, Beautiful Babylon, City down by the Sea”: Evolution of Babylon and its Railroad Station

Great South Bay, Lighthouse Road (July 17, 2016)
Great South Bay, Lighthouse Road (July 17, 2016)

“Beautiful Babylon”

O Babylon, beautiful Babylon,

City down by the sea,

Balmy and soft are the breezes aloft

Wafted so gently to thee,.

City of homes for a people,

Loyal and tried and true;

Many of a slender steeple

Piercing the heavenly blue.

Sunshine and flowers and laughter

Of children frolicing there –

Like birds from the sea,

Our thoughts turn to thee,

O City that love made so fair!

– Josephine M. Fabricant[1]

 

In the early nineteenth century, the current village of Babylon was little more than a stagecoach stop on the road to Montauk, with farms dotting the seaside area near the Great South Bay.  Originally, the village was part of the town of Huntington and referred to as Huntington South.  However, the town of Babylon was officially formed from Huntington South on January 3, 1873.  By the turn of the twentieth century, Babylon evolved from a farming village to a summer resort featuring eleven hotels.  Later in the century, the village evolved once again.  Thanks to electric train service to New York provided by the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), Babylon became a suburban bedroom community.  Although it was anticipated to become a “Second Jamaica” in light of rail electrification, Babylon today remains an enchanting and quaint village.  The following is a look at the evolution of Babylon and its railroad station, from its days serving the seaside resorts to its current role as a major transportation hub on the South Shore.[2]

Beginnings

When the town of Babylon was officially carved out of Huntington in 1873, with Elbert Carll as supervisor, the dividing line delineated ran east to west about a mile north from and parallel to the LIRR’s Main Line, built across the town in 1842.  Purchased from local Indians in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries by the town or individuals, the land included all of the necks along the Great South Bay, known as “The Sound” in the 1600s, and its tributary streams, valued for their meadow grass.  From west to east, these necks are West, Josias, Half, Great, Copiague, Little, Naguntetogue, Santapogue, Great East, Little East, and Sumpwams.  Some of the streams that separated them were easily dammed to furnish power.  Across the bay from Babylon to the southeast are two inlets: Oak Island, separating the mainland from Captree Island and Fire Island, separating Jones Beach Island from Fire Island.  Oak/Captree Island became a resort in the nineteenth century and currently contains some homes.[3]

Venetian Shores Park (July 17, 2016)
Venetian Shores Park (July 17, 2016)

The Baiting Place Indian Purchase approximately comprised the western portion of Huntington South while the Squaw Pit Purchase embraced the eastern portion.  The Upland Purchase stretched across the whole town at the head of the eleven necks.[4] On the north end of to day’s Babylon town, a stream from Phelps Pond in Deer Park runs south and unites with a larger stream from Belmont Lake Park.  From here the waters spread into Southard Pond, from the south end of which Carll’s Creek begins.  The latter body of water runs south to Argyle Lake and the Great South Bay, between Little East and Sumpwams Necks.  The entire waterway rises near Deer Park and flows south.  Formerly, there were trout and mill sites along the way.  A paper mill dammed the southeast end of Argyle Lake, north of Main Street.  It was originally a grist mill built by Timothy Carll.[5]

Argyle Lake (July 17, 2016)
Argyle Lake (July 17, 2016)

While no dwellings existed before the eighteenth century, a considerable number of homes were scattered among the lower hills through the Upland Purchase by the early 1700s.  In 1730 a small Presbyterian church was built.  Subsequently, two main trails were established, connecting Huntington to South Huntington: the “east path to South” by way of Deer Park and Babylon, known today as Deer Park Avenue, and the “west path to South” by way of Melville and Amityville, known today as New York State Route 110.[6]

At the outbreak of the American Revolution, there were still only a few settlers.  However, this would soon change.  In 1803, Nathaniel Conklin sought to build a home at the corner of Main Street and Deer Park Avenue.  Next door stood a rowdy tavern called the American Hotel.  Conklin’s mother, not pleased with the tavern’s proximity, characterized the area as “another Babylon.”  Conklin went on to build the house and carved a retort to his mother on the chimney, which read “New Babylon. This House Built by Nat. Conklin 1803.”  The name Babylon endured, minus the “New.”[7]

Arrival of Rail Service and Resorts

The LIRR was built through Deer Park on the town of Babylon’s northern edge in 1842.  Today, the area to the south is North Babylon, once referred to as “South Deer Park,” where Deer Park Avenue traverses to connect Deer Park with Babylon.  Initially, only a few scattered farms existed in North Babylon.  The first school was a one-room log cabin on Phelps Lane built in 1810.  The arrival of the railroad turned what was then-called Deer Park Lane into a busy stagecoach route.[8]

Great Cove and Robert Moses Twin Causeway (July 17, 2016)
Great Cove and Robert Moses Twin Causeway (July 17, 2016)

Direct rail service to Babylon arrived two decades later and gave impetus to the growth of the village.  However, the road was constructed by the South Side Railroad of Long Island, an early LIRR competitor.  As completed, it was a single-track line from Long Island City, running eastward to Jamaica, then southeasterly to Valley Stream, and easterly to Babylon.  Service began on October 28, 1867 and a depot building was erected south of the track, between Carll and Deer Park Avenues just west of a newly-built road called Depot Place.  Of board batten design, the structure had a gabel roof and bay window.  During the following summer the village succumbed to a brief fad and named itself Seaside.  After appearing on July and September timetables, the name reverted back thereafter.[9]

Babylon Station
Historical Fact
Date
Station and depot building opened by the South Side Railroad October 28, 1867
South Side Railroad merged under the LIRR Spring 1876
Depot building replaced April – July 1881
Depot building opened July 2, 1881
Rail electrification project began June 1924
Depot building relocated Early 1925
Station erected (with two high-level, island-type wooden platforms and flat-roofed wooden passenger shelters, and one low-level wooden platform, connected by a pedestrian overpass) Early 1925
Rail electrification project completed May 5, 1925
Station opened May 21, 1925
Station grade crossing elimination project began February 6, 1962 (author’s analysis)
Depot building razed July 23 & 24, 1962 (author’s analysis)
Station closed April 6, 1963 (author’s analysis)
Temporary station opened April 6, 1963 (author’s analysis)
Elevated Central Branch track and twin, island-type concrete platforms opened August 26, 1964 (author’s analysis)
Station grade crossing elimination project completed and Montauk Branch tracks opened September 9, 1964 (author’s analysis)
Temporary station closed September 9, 1964 (author’s analysis)
Central building opened Fall 1964 (author’s analysis)
Central building razed Spring 2000 – Early 2001 (author’s analysis)
Central building erected Spring 2000 – Early 2001 (author’s analysis)

The following decade, the Central Railroad of Long Island constructed a right-of-way to Babylon, from Garden City eastward through the Hempstead Plains to Bethpage where it turned southeasterly to Babylon.  Initially, a temporary station with covered platforms was set up at the Main Street and Little East Neck Road crossing.  It remained in operation from August 1 to October 17, 1873.  A permanent station was erected during September and October of 1873 between Carll and Fire Island Avenues.  The depot building was thirty-eight by sixty with 300 feet of platforms around it as well as an engine house and locomotive turntable.  In April 1874, a twenty-six by thirty-two foot freight house was erected, complete with a ten by 100 foot-long platform.  The station’s tenure was brief.  After November 9, 1874, the Central Railroad station was abandoned and all trains operated from the South Side Railroad station, now under operation by the Southern Railroad Company of Long Island.  The following June, the freight and engine houses were removed to the Southern Railroad station area, where they replaced the original engine and baggage house.  A track was also laid to connect the Central Railroad right-of-way to a siding just north of the Southern Railroad station.  It allowed Southern trains to run over the old Central track.  On May 18 and 19 of 1876, the operator of the nearby Washington Hotel, John Lux, bought and moved the abandoned Central depot building to the southwest corner of his property on Railroad Avenue, where it was converted into a private dwelling.[10]

Babylon Station
Central Railroad of Long Island Island
Historical Fact
Date
Station opened August 1, 1873
Depot building erected September – October 1873
Station closed November 9, 1874

The annual flux of summer visitors by rail constituted one of the most important sources of village prosperity.  By 1870 the village population was 1,225 and there were four large general stores, four churches, and five hotels.  The center of the village was known as The Four Corners, formed by the intersection of the two main roads, Main Street and Placide Avenue, named after actor Harry Placide who made his home in Babylon during the 1850s and 1860s.  The road was later named Fire Island Avenue.  Main Street ran east to west and Placide Avenue north to the southern waterfront.  North of Main Street the road was named Deer Park Avenue and designated in a 1858 map as leading to the Deer Park railroad station.[11]

Four Corners (October 15, 2016)
Four Corners (October 15, 2016)

Babylon’s five hotels were The Washington, The American, The Sumpwams House, The Grange House, and The Watson House.  On the northwest side of The Four Corners stood The American Hotel.  It was about a century old when it was destroyed by fire on June 4, 1883.  The building was originally owned by Jesse Smith and later sold to Nathaniel Conklin in 1858.  The Seaman’s National Hotel stood on the southwest corner.  A store occupied the southeast corner opposite the former Nathaniel Conklin house built on the northeast corner in 1803.[12]

When the Litchfield estate along Argyle Lake was sold to Fox & Hepburn for $125,000, another famous hotel was added in 1873, complete with cottages and a large, 350-room hotel.  The Duke of Argyle was a conspicuous guest and the property was named in his honor, including Argyle Park, Argyle Lake, and Argyle Hotel.  Frank Thompson, an African-American, managed a huge service staff as head-waiter at the hotel.  He formed a baseball team that would be later designated the first all-black professional team in America.[13]

Other streets in the area were named after Simon Wheeler Cooper.  Cooper was the second Babylon postmaster and conducted the office in his home on the south side of Main Street from 1815 to 1836.  He owned much land on the north side of Main Street, running east from Deer Park Avenue.  When his land was divided into blocks, some of the streets were named after him and his sons, Simon, George, and James.[14]

In addition to the hotels, estates were built as well.  In North Babylon, financier and diplomat August Belmont maintained a sprawling estate with a country mansion, completed in 1868.  Belmont’s estate was one of the most complete in the country for breeding and racing horses, with 500 acres under cultivation for feeding horses and other livestock.  It also featured a racetrack, and a nursery and stud farm for breeding thoroughbred stallions.  The estate was later transformed into Belmont Lake State Park.[15]

By the 1890s Babylon was described as a “thriving country town … a spick-and-span array of cottages embowered in trees, flowers and shrubbery.”  The era of summer hotels and boarding houses was at its peak during the 1870s and 1880s.  Luxury hotels and estates enticed wealthy New Yorkers to spend summers along the Great South Bay.  A boom in ridership required better railroad station, now operated by the LIRR under a lease with the Brooklyn & Montauk Railroad.  Construction of a new depot building began in April 1881 and the two-story frame structure opened on July 2, 1881, just west of the former depot and east of Carll Avenue.  A second track was also laid south of the existing track on the approach to the station, west of Carll Avenue and Carll’s Creek, when the branch was double-tracked in 1892.[16]

At thirty by seventy-eight feet, the new depot building was hailed as the largest in the system and the best-equipped station east of Long Island City.  Of Victorian design, it featured a plaza portico with graceful scallop trim under the first story eaves and a wood roof-crest balustrade which was later removed.[17] The finials at the end of the building’s peaked roof were supported by a gas-flame point curlicue.  The overhang edge was decorated in a toothed pattern.[18]

Fire Island

In the second half of the nineteenth century, Babylon became the connecting point between the railroad and the popular seaside resort, Fire Island.  In fact, a horse car line ran from the station along Placide Avenue to the dock at Tom Smith’s Point, a distance of about one and a half miles, where a steamboat took passengers across the Great South Bay.  Prior to European colonization, the local Secatogues Indians called the barrier island Seal Island for the great seal population.  On a New Netherlands map that depicted land granted by charters in 1614 and 1621 the island was called Sictem Hackey, which could be a form of Sichetanyhacky, or land of the Secatogues.  In the 1840s the island was known as Raccoon Beach.  After this, it was later called Fire Island Beach, then Great South Beach, and finally Fire Island, at about the time of the First World War.[19]

There are four primary explanations as to its name.  In the first, it was named after Fire Island Inlet, which cuts through the barrier island and connects Great South Bay to the ocean.  The name came into use by 1789.  In a deed dated September 15, Henry Smith of Boston sold beach property running from “the Head of Long Cove to Huntting East Gut or Fire Island Inlet.”  Prior to this, the inlet was at various times called New Gut, Nicholls Gut, Nine-Mile Gut, Huntting East Gut, and Huntington East Gut (gut is gate in Dutch).[20]

In the second, it was named after the small islands at the mouth of the inlet.  In 1688 there were a total of five, but over the years they have varied in number and shape.  Today, there are two, known as West Fire Island and East Fire Island, but are no longer at the mouth since the inlet has moved a considerable distance west.  Historian Richard Bayles suggested that fire comes from a misreading of five.[21]

Some historians also believe that fire is a misspelling of the Dutch word vier, or four.  Locals may have slurred Four Island Inlet to Fire Island Inlet.  Others believe it was a misspelling of fire and point to a 1798 chart where four small inlet islands are identified as Fier Islands and the inlet as Great Fier Island Inlet.[22]

In the last, it is believed fires gave rise to the name.  In one account, it was named after smoldering swamp fires set by Indians to signal to the mainland.  Early European settlers carried on the tradition setting fires to signal that they needed supplies brought over from the mainland or to guide whalers into the bay by night.  Another account claims wreckers lit fires on the beach to lure ships ashore where crews were murdered and robbed.  Captains also may have mistaken fires for inlet markers.[23]

David Sturgis Sprague Sammis was the man most responsible for turning Fire Island into a resort when he built the Surf Hotel after he purchased 120 acres in 1855 to erect the building.  It was located east of a lighthouse built 1825 at the edge of Fire Island Inlet.  To facilitate the arrival of guests, Sammis built a trolley line from the station to the dock where his steam yacht, the Bonita, carried them across the bay.  An attempt by Frederick Dunton to run two monorails to Fire Island in the 1880s failed.[24]

In 1893 New York State purchased the Surf Hotel to serve as a quarantine station for European cholera victims.  However, when the purchase was finalized, the epidemic subsided and there was no need for the station.  Although the state permitted private innkeepers to keep running the building, it never regained its former popularity.  In 1908 the land became the first state park on Long Island.[25]

By this time, the adjacent lighthouse was replaced.  In 1858 the current Fire Island Lighthouse was built a little northeast of the original.  The land around the structure accumulated as the inlet moved west so the lighthouse is now further east.  It is 166 feet above sea level and originally had a brick surface plastered with a buff-colored cement wash.  In 1891 it was replaced with the present black-and-white bands.[26]

Fire Island Lighthouse (July 22, 2012)
Fire Island Lighthouse (July 22, 2012)

Babylon as a New Jamaica

The area lying south of Southard Pond, as far east as the town line and west to approximately Little East Neck Road, became the incorporated village of Babylon in 1893 and the town seat.  In 1917, a town hall house was built on the north side of Montauk Highway at 47 West Main Street.  A village municipal building was also built on the north side of Montauk Highway at 153 West Main Street.  The village population in 1930 was 4,342.[27]

Babylon Town Hall (July 17, 2016)
Babylon Town Hall (July 17, 2016)

Babylon’s transformation from a resort village to a residential community was aided by the arrival of electrified rail service in 1925.  In fact, the LIRR was the first suburban railroad to electrify, back in 1905.  Construction of third-rail electrification between Brooklyn and Rockaway Park commenced in June 1904, two years after the Pennsylvania Railroad assumed a controlling interest in the LIRR.  Service opened to the public on July 28, 1905.  Subsequently, the first train from Brooklyn to Jamaica ran on August 30, 1905.  Electric rail between Long Island City, Queens and Jamaica was later placed into operation on June 23, 1910 and service to New York’s Pennsylvania Station was inaugurated on September 8, 1910, after a connection was made to the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks at Sunnyside Yards.[28]

LIRR improvements continued.  In 1924, a total of $8,796,397 was spent on twenty-four miles of new track, twenty-nine grade crossing elimination projects, and station upgrades.  More importantly, in April 1924 the LIRR Board of Directors authorized electrification of the double-tracked Montauk Branch from Rockaway Junction in Jamaica to Babylon.  Work on the twenty-eight mile, $5 million project began two months later and was carried out by the railroad’s own construction forces.[29]

By the close of 1924, the third rail was laid along most of both tracks, from Valley Stream eastward to the terminus of electrification just east of the Babylon car yard, and from Valley Stream westward to Jamaica.  The exception was a few short stretches at Freeport and Babylon Stations where track changes were contemplated.  The electric substation at Babylon Station was also completed.  On Tuesday, May 5, the first electric car ran on the branch, roundtrip between Jamaica and Babylon.  With LIRR Vice President George Le Boutillier and other officials aboard, it left Jamaica at 8:45 a.m. and returned at 11:00 a.m.  The three-car consist was operated by motorman Benjamin G. Corey and conductor Louis Newfield.[30]

When work was completed, six substations and two transformer stations on the Montauk Branch were built between Jamaica and Babylon.  The LIRR now had 300 miles of electric track and to date had spent $25 million on electrification, which included the cost of rail cars.  Indeed, forty new steel cars were purchased for Montauk Branch service and sixty steam coaches were converted for use in electric service.  At the time, the LIRR had the most extensive multi-unit electric service in the country with 905 electric cars in service.  Additionally, Le Boutillier announced that the railroad’s Main Line was next to be electrified, from Mineola to Farmingdale.  Since electric trains operated quicker than steam trains, officials stressed that no attempt should be made to get on or off the train while they were in motion.[31]

To complement the Montauk Branch, the old Central Extension of the Central Railroad between Babylon and Bethpage Junction was rebuilt with 100-pound rail and creosoted ties.  Since was is relatively straight, the Central Extension was redesigned as the Central Branch, a single-track right-of-way for fast express steam service to and from points east of Babylon and New York via Hicksville and the Main Line to Jamaica.  Slight curves connected it to the Montauk Branch at Belmont Junction in Babylon, in the southeast quadrant, and Main Line at Bethpage Junction, in the northwest quadrant.  Control towers were constructed on each end of the seven-mile right-of-way, complete with signals and interlocking plants.  Each tower was connected by wire and telephone lines.[32]

Electrification of the Montauk Branch and the change of motive power at Babylon for points east, using the Extension and the Main Line, greatly increased the capacity of the railroad.  When summer timetables went into effect on May 21, the new electric rail was utilized for local traffic between Jamaica and Babylon along the Montauk Branch, with no planned steam service.  Steam service to Babylon and Points East was scheduled for the Central Branch.  Local service between Babylon and Patchogue was maintained by steam service connected with electric trains at Babylon Station.  The complex setup eased congestion at Jamaica since it eliminated Jamaica as a transfer point for some trains.  Babylon express service was available via steam trains.  In total, there were nine scheduled trains making no stops between Babylon and Jamaica.  Once electrification of the Main Line to Farmingdale would be completed, it was envisioned that the Central Branch to Babylon would also be electrified.[33]

To handle interchange traffic, Babylon Station was entirely remodeled and all tracks relocated.  From north to south, the new track designations were the Central Branch track, Montauk Branch track one and Montauk Branch track two.   In total three platforms were erected between Carll Avenue and Depot Place to allow for as little inconvenience as possible.  A low-level cinder platform for electric trains was installed,  between Montauk Branch track two and the depot building, which needed to be moved about fifteen feet to facilitate the rearrangement.  Two high-level, island platforms were set up for interchange of passengers from electric service to Patchogue steam shuttle service.  The northern platform was constructed between the Central Branch track and Montauk Branch track one, and the southern between Montauk Branch track one and Montauk Branch track two.  Each featured a long flat-roofed canopy and an enclosed wooden waiting room shelter, complete with a bench and coal stove, and were connected to each other and to the low-level platform by a pedestrian overpass bridge, located about center of the platforms just east of the depot building.  All platforms were the length of eleven cars.  Babylon tower, just east of Deer Park Avenue on the south side of the track, operated all interlockings in the area and access to the Central Branch, which veered off the Montauk Branch just east of Great East Neck Road.[34]

According to the Babylon Leader, electric rail would be “like the turning of a golden leaf in the history of the village.”[35] Indeed, Babylon celebrated the event in great style, with an abundance of music and song, flags and speeches, and fireworks.  The Executive Committee of the Electrification Celebration Organization was set up to coordinate plans and gather funds.  At a meeting held on April 29, Chairman Emmett F. Newton, who was also village president, announced that the LIRR would run a special celebratory train on Wednesday, May 20.  It would bring railroad officials and other notables, as well as delegations from the villages along the line, to Babylon, where streets would be decorated with flags and bunting.  A banner would also be stretched across Main Street to notify residents of the event.  Festivities were scheduled to include a squadron of airplanes, both a local band and the LIRR band, and singing school children.  It was also suggested that a group of long-time commuters be given a special place in the grandstands.  In the end, four men claimed to have ridden more miles than any other four men then living.  They were Chester O. Ketcham, Stephen C. Duryrea, J. Brion Foulke, and William P. Field.[36]

The “history in the making” event was celebrated as follows.[37] At 2 p.m., an aerial torpedo burst high in the air to signal the opening of the preliminary ceremony, from the high school ball grounds where a special grandstand was erected.  Spedick’s Band performed and school children attired in National colors sang patriotic songs.  Babylon High School Principal Charles W. Armstrong was in charge of the program to greet the train, which included a group of no less than 700 boys and girls.  At 3 p.m. the students took position on either side of the station to greet the arrival of the train, which left Pennsylvania Station at 2:15 p.m., making local stops from St. Albans to Babylon.  Delegates and newspapermen from towns and villages along the line were aboard, as well as the LIRR band.  Col. Robert Guggenheim supplied a squadron of seven airplanes, which were the first to spot the train, as daytime fireworks were set off to signal its arrival.  The train was greeted by the reception committee, headed by real estate operator, Jeremiah Robbins.  The LIRR band played music while official guests proceeded to the grandstand and were escorted to their seats.  Next, speeches were given by the railroad, the town, and village officials.  The chairman of the entertainment committee, Chester O. Ketcham, who also one of the oldest commuters, introduced President Newton who then extended a welcome to visitors.  Le Boutillier spoke on behalf of the railroad.  Both bands now played to end the first part of the program.  In the second part, the Babylon Fire Department, under Chief Percy Arink, led a parade down Carll Avenue to Main Street, then east to Deer Park Avenue and north to the station.  The parade line up was as follows: Fire Chief Arink, a motorcycle squad, the American Legion color bearer, railroad officials, village officials, the LIRR band, the visiting delegation, school children, Boy Scouts, Camp Fire Girls, Babylon Fire Department, and Spedick’s Band.  Upon arrival at the station, the special train departed Babylon.  In the event of rain, ceremonies were scheduled for Babylon Theatre.[38]

The celebration to lasted well into the evening.  Daylight fireworks included huge bombs containing large silk paper American flags attached to tri-colored parachutes, a salute of Pain’s aerial guns, and a “shower of roses” day shells.  It was hoped that State Governor Alfred E. Smith would attend as principal speaker.  In fact, Smith was in Babylon a week prior, to inspect the proposed North Side Parkway to Deer Park Avenue.  However, in his place was the Hon. Dana Wallace, former District Attorney of Queens County.  Also in attendance was former Justice Henry A. Brown, who was alive when the first train ran to Greenport in 1844.  He was then nine years old and had the honor of flagging the train to permit road president George B. Fisk to board.  George Edgar White, who was the first engineer to ride a train into Babylon, was also scheduled to appear but poor health prohibited his participation.[39]

The Babylon Leader thoroughly covered electrification.  Several articles and advertisements predicted great change as result of the new service.  It was thought that what electrification did for the village of Jamaica several years earlier, it would do for Babylon.  The comparison to Jamaica was stressed in light of its post-electrification opulence.  Jamaica’s phenomenal growth was owed to electric trains that brought Jamaica within eighteen minutes of New York City.  Between 1905 and 1924 Jamaica’s population rose from 2,742 to 35,657, over twelve-hundred percent.[40] Ridership also grew from 3,912 commuters in 1910 to 35,657 a few years later.  It was believed that Babylon’s “future should be more remarkable than Jamaica.”  Not only because it invited residents and tourists but it was now the junction for electric and steam service.[41]

Real estate agents claimed “the moving finger of prosperity [pointed] to Babylon, a second Jamaica!”  Headlines signaled that a “kaleidoscopic transformation should immediately follow” and this was “Babylon’s big day!”[42] To promote the purchase of land at low prices, one advertisement argued that “the man who marks time will be the man who will live to wish he had joined with the foresighted folks and bought Babylon land before the first electric train rolls into New Babylon.”[43] One such property was the former R.G. Dun Estate.  One agent claimed the “writing [was] on the wall to buy land for home and business.”  “What Babylon will be in the future only a seer can tell” was another agent’s prediction.[44]

Agents also assured the public of a great future.  In addition to one of the highest health rates of any village in the state, Babylon had more public waterfront than any other village on the island.  Local government was ready to support every improvement needed.  In 1922, residents, by practically a unanimous vote, carried the first bond issue of $120,000 for concrete roads.[45]

Robert Moses and State Parks

Babylon has many famous former residents, among them is Italian physicist Guglielmo Marconi.  Marconi arrived in 1901 and set up a shack at Fire Island Avenue and Virginia Road that later became the first shore-to-ship wireless relay station.[46]

Perhaps the most famous Babylonian is Robert Moses, the master builder who oversaw many Long Island highway and recreation projects.  A Connecticut native, Moses first came to Babylon in the early 1920s when friends invited him, and his wife Mary, to spend a summer weekend.  Taking a liking to Babylon and the entire South Shore, he rented a bungalow in the summer of 1922 and eventually bought a home on Thompson Avenue.[47]

Robert Moses statue, Babylon Town Hall (July 17, 2016)
Robert Moses statue, Babylon Town Hall (July 17, 2016)

By this time, Fire Island Park was in poor condition.  The state had created the Fire Island State Park Commission in 1908 and auctioned off the existing Surf Hotel buildings to construct a boardwalk and three shelters at a cost of $5,000.  It became Long Island’s first state park.  A bathhouse was added in 1914 but all structures were destroyed by fire in 1918.[48]

In 1923, New York State Governor Alfred E. Smith appointed Robert Moses as head of the Long Island State Park Commission.  Headquarters were set up on August Belmont’s estate, which became Belmont Lake State Park in 1924.  Upon Moses’s appointment about 600 new acres of federally-owned land west of the lighthouse on Fire Island had naturally formed by the sea.  Moses asked the federal government to entrust the land to the state and in June 1924, Congress passed the necessary legislation.  By 1926 the park offered numerous facilities, including a bathhouse to accommodate 350 persons and a camp for crippled boys named Camp Cheerful, built in 1928.  All structures were once again destroyed, this time by the infamous hurricane of 1938.  The following year Moses rebuilt park facilities, two-and-a-half miles to the west where the land was higher.  It reopened in 1940 with a bathhouse, snack bar, boat basin, playground equipment, and cement walks.[49]

Water Tower, Robert Moses State Park (August 25, 2012)
Water Tower, Robert Moses State Park (August 25, 2012)

The first proposal to bridge the inlet to allow automobiles onto Fire Island was in the 1920s.  In 1927, Moses set out to extend Ocean Parkway eastward from Jones Beach Island and continue the road onto Fire Island.[50]  Nothing materialized but Moses continued to stress the need for a Fire Island roadway.  Over the years he was opposed by residents and preservationists but eventually succeeded in building a bridge from the east end of Fire Island to the mainland at Shirley.  Opened in June 1959, the 1,216-foot Smith Point Bridge connected with a new county park on Fire Island.  It took four years to build at a cost of $2.5 million.[51]

Moses’s first step to bridge to western Fire Island was the completion of the 10,800-foot Captree Bridge and adjoining causeway at a cost of $11.4 million.  The single-span bridge over Oak Island Inlet connected the Suffolk mainland in West Islip with Oak/Captree Island, where a three-quarter mile causeway linked it to a small bridge over the state boat channel to Jones Beach Island and the eastern terminus of Ocean Parkway at Captree State Park.  The state had first earmarked funds for the span in early-1950 but construction was delayed because of a Korean War steel shortage.  The final steel girder was set into place on October 6, 1953 and the two-mile span opened to traffic on June 12, 1954 when Moses’s granddaughter, Caroline Collins of Babylon, cut the ceremonial tape.  It includes a 600-foot center arch sixty feet above the water.  A double-leaf drawbridge over the state boat channel connected the causeway to Oak Beach where Captree State Park was constructed.  Here, ferry service was available to Fire Island State Park at a newly-constructed, $500,000 boat basin.  Captree State Park was also furnished with parking fields and a refreshment stand as well as an 800-foot dock with a forty-boat capacity.[52]

Robert Moses Twin Causeway, Sampwams Point (July 17, 2016)
Robert Moses Twin Causeway, Sampwams Point (July 17, 2016)

The second step was when Moses applied to the U.S. Army in 1958 for permission to construct a bridge from Captree State Park across Fire Island Inlet.  In the plan, Moses aimed to create “another Jones Beach” out of Fire Island State Park by developing the four miles to the west of the existing facilities.  At the time no plans were discussed to expand beyond the park’s eastern edge at Kismet.  However, it was in Moses’s long-range agenda for Fire Island, a roadway constructed atop a fourteen-foot-high dune, from the Fire Island Inlet to the Smith Point Bridge.  In one editorial he argued that the roadway would preserve the island rather than destroy it.  It would protect it from erosion by equinoctial storms and provide controlled, limited access to communities.  In January 1961, bridge construction came one step closer when the State Department of Public Works announced it was receiving bids the following month.[53]

Robert Moses Twin Causeway, Venetian Shores Park (July 17, 2016)
Robert Moses Twin Causeway, Venetian Shores Park (July 17, 2016)

However, in a dramatic turn of events, State Governor Nelson Rockefeller asked Moses to resign as head of the New York State Council of Parks.  Moses eventually did and also stepped down from four other state park posts he held, including the Long Island State Park Commission.  The Fire Island parkway was later permanently put to rest after Representative Otis Pike introduced a bill to create the Fire Island National Seashore, from Robert Moses State Park to Smith Point County Park.  It was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson in September 1964.[54]

Regardless, a bridge to Fire Island was built.  In fact, in a surprise move on June 27, 1963, the State Council of Parks renamed both Captree Causeway and Fire Island State Park in honor of Moses and his many years of work.  Construction of the 4,232-foot long Robert Moses Bridge over Fire Island Inlet to connect Robert Moses Causeway to Robert Moses State Park started in 1961.  At its highest point it is sixty-five feet above the inlet.  Moses gave a dedication speech on June 13, 1964 and the $10 million structure opened to the public at 3:00 p.m., allowing automobiles access to Fire Island and the new $3 million upgrade to Robert Moses State Park.[55]

Robert Moses State Park Water Tower and Robert Moses Bridge, Captree State Park (August 26, 2012)
Robert Moses State Park Water Tower and Robert Moses Bridge, Captree State Park (August 26, 2012)

Two months after the new bridge opened, the Long Island State Park Commission announced that the two-lane Robert Moses Causeway and boat channel crossing, Captree Bridge, would be widened from two to four lanes at a cost of $12 million.  The plan was later expanded to include a new span over Oak Island Inlet to parallel to the existing bridge.  Constructed to the east, the three-lane span opened to traffic on April 22, 1968, at which time the older bridge was closed for repairs.  After a week, both bridges were in service, the senior bridge serving southbound traffic and the new bridge serving northbound.[56]

Over the years, needed repairs were preformed on all spans.  In 2001, a refurbishment of the Robert Moses Bridge over Fire Island Island was performed.  In 2008, the bridge also received new bearings and the sister bridges over Oak Island Inlet received an anti-corrosion paint and new jacket tiles.[57]

Fire Island Lighthouse (July 6, 2012)
Fire Island Lighthouse (July 6, 2012)

One of Fire Island’s most notable fixtures, its lighthouse, was later preserved.  In 1974 the federal government extinguished the lamp after 150 years of service and gave its navigation duties to the Robert Moses State Park water tower.  However, thanks to efforts by the Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society to raise more than $1.2 million, the light was restored on May 25, 1986 at 9:00 p.m.  A decade later, the society assumed control of the structure from the National Park Service.[58]

Robert Moses statue, Babylon Town Hall (July 17, 2016)
Robert Moses statue, Babylon Town Hall (July 17, 2016)

To honor Robert Moses, Babylon village unveiled a plan in 2002 for a statue of the famous Babylonian.  Dressed in a suit with one hand on his hip and the other holding a set of plans, the life-size bronze statue was planned and designated by artist Jose Ismael Fernandez.  It is currently just west of village hall.[59]

Elevated Railroad Station

In early-September 1964 the LIRR completed two grade crossing elimination projects, one in Hicksville and the other in Babylon.  The new overhead tracks at both stations cost a total of $26.3 million.  The Babylon project was over $11.3 million and the first multiple-crossing elimination in Suffolk County.  The new tracks were generally elevated onto earth embankments except between Carll and Deer Park Avenues where a 1,200-foot-long reinforced cement concrete viaduct supported twin, island-type platforms and eliminated the Depot Place crossing.  In total nine bridges were constructed for street and stream crossings: two at Great East Neck Road and one each at Little East Neck Road, Litchfield Avenue, Carll Avenue, Deer Park Avenue, and Cooper Street as well as Carll’s Creek and Sumpwams Creek.  Upon completion, the project included parking facilities for 250 automobiles and more than six-and-a-half miles of permanent track, six on the Montauk Branch and the remainder on the Central Branch.[60]

Location of the former LIRR Babylon Station central building, view northwest (June 18, 2016)
Location of the former LIRR Babylon Station central building, view northwest (June 18, 2016)

The Public Service Commission approved plans for the project in July of 1961.  Horn Construction Co., Inc. of Merrick was the low bidder at $6.3 million and contracts were signed in early-1962, with a tentative completion by September 1, 1964.  Horn Construction did about seventy percent of the work and the remainder was done by the LIRR.[61]

LIRR Montauk Branch Great East Neck Road trestle, view north (October 15, 2016)
LIRR Montauk Branch Great East Neck Road trestle, view north (October 15, 2016)

Initial plans called for a temporary station to be built at the existing south side station parking lot, with temporary passenger shelters erected on both sides of temporary tracks.  A temporary pedestrian overpass would provide access to each side.  Although some parking would be eliminated, two parking areas nearby would provide additional spots.  The temporary tracks, to be used during the construction period, would run along Trolley Line Road and through the existing parking lot.  To facilitate operation, Trolley Line Road needed to be closed to vehicular traffic, from a point west of Great East Neck Road to east of Carll’s Creek, and temporary access roads would be built for residents living south of it.  When temporary tracks were ready for use, the former depot building, platforms, and pedestrian overpass would be removed.  The earth embankment and viaduct would then be built in its place, with elevated platforms and a street-level central building below.  When the new station and the grade crossing project were completed, the temporary station and tracks would be raised and Trolley Line Road rebuilt.[62]

LIRR Central Branch Great East Neck Road trestle, view north (October 15, 2016)
LIRR Central Branch Great East Neck Road trestle, view north (October 15, 2016)

A by-product of the project was the plan for a modern highway along the railroad right-of-way from Amityville to Islip.  The Suffolk County Department of Public Works called for the reconstruction of Union Street (currently Union Boulevard) and John Street into a four-lane highway from the town boundary, or from as far east as Higbie Lane in West Islip, to the Cooper Street crossing in Babylon.  The Cooper Street crossing would be relocated about 150 feet westward.  John Street, which formerly ended at Cooper Street, would intersect with the latter and curve under the newly-constructed trestle to junction with Simon Street.  Most houses on the south side of Simon Street were slated for demolition to allow construction of a seventy-foot, four-lane road that would continue on a gentle curve as Simon Street and cross over Deer Park Avenue.  The county then planned to extend construction westward along the line of Locust Avenue to Great East Neck Road, where the highway would cross under the trestle and proceed westward to Amityville.  The former Knickerbocker Ice Company along the tracks just west of Cooper Street, and some buildings at the Glen Hendrickson lumber yard east of Cooper Street, were among the structures razed.[63]

LIRR Little East Neck Road trestle, view northwest (July 17, 2016)
LIRR Little East Neck Road trestle, view northwest (July 17, 2016)

The grade crossing project also eliminated other buildings throughout the village.  On the south side of the railroad right-of-way, from Deer Park Avenue to Great East Neck Road, several houses, commercial buildings, and other structures, needed to be removed whole or in part to make way for the temporary tracks.  The American Red Cross building, just west of Deer Park Avenue, had its canteen wing removed.  The building was the oldest house in Babylon, built by Nathaniel Conklin in 1833.  Just across Deer Park Avenue, the retail store of E.W. Howell was demolished as well as Reliable Fuel Company just west of Carll Avenue.[64]

LIRR Litchfield Avenue trestle, view north (July 17, 2016)
LIRR Litchfield Avenue trestle, view north (July 17, 2016)

Initially, there was concern over the amount of commuter parking available during the project.  However, after he conferred with the State Department of Public Works, Horn Construction, and the railroad, Babylon Mayor Gilbert C. Hanse guaranteed that there would be more, not less, automobile parking.  In total, 220 parking spots were eliminated, but 265 were added, for a gain of forty-five.  Although the ninety-seven spaces in the north side lot and the sixty-eight on the west side of Carll Avenue were not be disturbed, there would be room for only 149 cars in the 283-space south side station lot.  The additional parking came from fifty-five spaces on Trolley Line Road, the Locust Avenue lot, and the acquisition of property on George Street for a new village field.[65]

LIRR Carll Avenue trestle (left) and viaduct (right), view north (July 17, 2016)
LIRR Carll Avenue trestle (left) and viaduct (right), view north (July 17, 2016)

In January of 1962, Mayor Hanse was given a tentative timetable.  Work was to start in February.  After the temporary station and tracks were in use south of the existing right-of-way, an earth embankment would be constructed of hydraulic fill that was dredged from the Great South Bay off of the West Islip shoreline and trucked to the site.  The embankment would be pierced at the street intersections and trestles set in place over the roadway.  Each street would be closed at a time for construction of bridges.  After new tracks were laid and placed into service atop the new right-of-way, the temporary station and tracks would be removed.[66]

LIRR Babylon Station south platform (left) and north platform waiting room and elevator (right) (June 18, 2016)
LIRR Babylon Station south platform (left) and north platform waiting room and elevator (right) (June 18, 2016)

The mayor asked for more trains to be run from Deer Park and Bay Shore Station to provide other travel options. He also asked state officials to consider constructing fall-out shelters in the embankment.  He claimed it was a feasible location and would be a “practical and dramatic” method to provide the first public shelters constructed in the state.[67]

LIRR Babylon Station south platform and EMD DM30AC number 506 of eastbound train number 8704 on track 3, view west (May 21, 2016)
LIRR Babylon Station south platform and EMD DM30AC number 506 of eastbound train number 8704 on track 3, view west (May 21, 2016)

The first phase of the project began on Tuesday, February 6, 1962 when work crews arrived to begin construction of the temporary passenger station, just south of the existing station.  Village Historian, Miss Beulah Muncy, was on hand with Mayor Hanse as bulldozers moved in to start work.  A week later the mayor announced that the project was proceeding on schedule and that the next progress meeting would be held on February 27.  He also said that the village received a letter from Edward H.L. Smith, Director of the Suffolk County Civilian Defense, supporting the fallout shelter idea.[68]

LIRR EMD MP15-AC numbers 168 & 164, LIRR Babylon Station south platform track 2, view west: Class E-15mc, built March-April 1977, number 168 converted to power cab option August 1983, and number 164 converted to power cab option October 1983 (October 15, 2016)
LIRR EMD MP15-AC numbers 168 & 164, LIRR Babylon Station south platform track 2, view west: Class E-15mc, built March-April 1977, number 168 converted to power cab option August 1983, and number 164 converted to power cab option October 1983 (October 15, 2016)

After the February 27 meeting, Hanse reported that progress continued at four different locations.  In addition to work at the temporary station, tracks were being laid at the car storage yard in West Islip.  At the Stowe Avenue work location near Belmont Junction at the eastern boundary of the Twin Oaks section, a drainage project was underway to direct run-off water into a drain and then onto the stream that flowed along Stowe Avenue.  The final location had the most immediate significance.  Horn Construction was laying tracks to build a “team yard” for freight handling at the Albin Avenue property along the Central Branch in West Babylon.  Upon completion, commuters would be able to park on the site of existing freight sidings just west of the power station and north of Trolley Line Road.  The former freight house, which was being used as an express office since 1957, would also be removed to make way for additional parking.[69]

LIRR EMD MP15-AC number 164 and work train consist, LIRR Babylon Station south platform track 2, view east: Class E-15mc, built March-April 1977, converted to power cab option October 1983 (October 15, 2016)
LIRR EMD MP15-AC number 164 and work train consist, LIRR Babylon Station south platform track 2, view east: Class E-15mc, built March-April 1977, converted to power cab option October 1983 (October 15, 2016)

However, as part of a last-minute change in early-April, Trolley Line Road would remain open to traffic for an additional two to three months.  The adjustment was part of a larger revision by Horn Construction to proceed work from east to west rather than from west to east.  It also meant that the laying of temporary tracks would be delayed.  On a positive note, it shortened the duration of the worst traffic problem.[70]

LIRR EMD MP15-AC numbers 164 & 168 and west-end staircase to street-level, LIRR Babylon Station south platform track 2, view east: Class E-15mc, built March-April 1977, number 164 converted to power cab option October 1983, and number 168 converted to power cab option August 1983 (October 15, 2016)
LIRR EMD MP15-AC numbers 164 & 168 and west-end staircase to street-level, LIRR Babylon Station south platform track 2, view east: Class E-15mc, built March-April 1977, number 164 converted to power cab option October 1983, and number 168 converted to power cab option August 1983 (October 15, 2016)

Meanwhile, demolition of buildings was underway.  By mid-April, work commenced on passenger platforms and shelters at the three-track temporary station.  Additionally, plans for a trestle to carry the temporary tracks over Carll’s Creek was slated to begin.  In the end, the layout of the temporary station was similar to the existing station.  Two high-level platforms provided interchange service between Central and Montauk Branch trains, and a single low-level platform served electric trains.  Each of the two high-level platforms featured a long wooden passenger shelter, painted red with a gabel roof.  All three platforms were connected by a pedestrian overpass.  The remainder of the south side station parking lot was closed June 6, from Carll Avenue to Depot Place, so that it could be resurfaced and utilized as a bus and taxi terminal.[71]

LIRR Deer Park Avenue trestle, view north (July 17, 2016)
LIRR Deer Park Avenue trestle, view north (July 17, 2016)

By June 1, much of the preliminary work was finished.  As of Monday, June 11, Trolley Line Road was closed, from a point 400 feet west of Carll’s Creek to Little East Neck Road and from Beechwood Drive to Stowe Avenue, to expedite construction of the temporary tracks.  The former depot building was demolished on July 23 and 24.  The temporary station finally went into service April 6, 1963.[72]

LIRR Babylon Tower, view east (July 17, 2016)
LIRR Babylon Tower, view east (July 17, 2016)

With work nearing completion in August 1964, road resurfacing began on the major north-to-south arteries.  The timetable included roadways under the new trestles erected at Great East Neck Road, Little East Neck Road, Litchfield Avenue, Carll Avenue, and Deer Park Avenue.  Work on Great East Neck Road commenced August 17 and continued through October 9.   Litchfield Avenue was closed from August 24 to September 11, Carll Avenue was closed from August 31 to September 30, Little East Neck Road was closed from October 5 to November 13, and Deer Park Avenue was closed from October 19 to November 30.  Once temporary tracks were removed, the Department of Public Works was set to install a temporary road-bed at the former Cooper Street crossing, pending the widening of John Street.[73]

LIRR Cooper Street trestle, view northeast (July 17, 2016)
LIRR Cooper Street trestle, view northeast (July 17, 2016)

The first of three new LIRR tracks at Babylon Station went into service on August 26 when trains began using a half-mile of the new Central Branch elevated track and new elevated platforms.  In use today, the track begins west of Belmont Junction on the Central Branch and slowly rises onto an embankment in a southeasterly direction prior to Great East Neck Road, where it bridges the crossing.  Just east of the trestle, the Central Branch ends at a junction with the double-track Montauk Branch.  The Montauk Branch is constructed on an embankment, extending eastward from Cedar Woods Road, and crosses over Great East Neck Road on a trestle south of the Central Branch.  A short distance east, the branch next crosses over Little East Neck Road via a 104-foot trestle.  Before reaching the viaduct, it bridges over Litchfield Avenue, Carll’s Creek, and Carll Avenue.  At the viaduct the right-of-way becomes three tracks.  East of the station the branch crosses over Deer Park Avenue, Cooper Street, and Sampwams Creek.  Babylon tower, now located on the north side of the right-of-way just east of Deer Park Avenue, controls all interlockings in the greater station area.  To connect passengers from the temporary station to the new platforms, the pedestrian overpass built over the grade-level temporary tracks was extended to about midway along the new elevated southern platform.  Since escalator construction was not completed, the central station building located under the viaduct was officially opened a few months later, complete with a large ticket office, waiting room, and restrooms.[74]

LIRR Babylon car storage yard, West Islip (July 17. 2016)
LIRR Babylon car storage yard, West Islip (July 17. 2016)

In total, the grade crossing elimination project cost $11,347,833, with $6,798,933 done by Horn Construction and $4,548,900 performed by the railroad.  The remaining two tracks went into service on September 9 along the 2.84 miles of the Montauk Branch.  To honor the next phase in Babylon railroad service, a celebration was held.  The program began at 8:30 a.m., with Assembly John G. McCarthy of Huntington presiding over the event.  It included speeches, a “coffee toast” where commuters and officials were treated to free coffee and pastries, and the ceremonial raising of a crossing gate over track one that was mounted to the north platform bearing a banner proclaiming “Hey, look me over, but don’t shed a tear, I’m the last crossing gate you’ll see around here.”  Both Mayor Hanse and LIRR President Thomas M. Goodfellow were in attendance to lift the honorary gate.  The program was capped by the departure of a city-bound train at 8:53 a.m.[75]

LIRR Higbie Avenue crossing, West Islip (July 17. 2016)
LIRR Higbie Avenue crossing, West Islip (July 17. 2016)

Passengers were now sky-bound for the two, island-type platforms, which extended eastward from the Carll Avenue trestle.  Each featured an enclosed passenger waiting room, and staircase to street-level, about midway point on the platform covered by a long flat overhead roof. On each platform a set of stairs also led to street-level, covered by a short flat overhead roof, on the east side of Depot Place.  Additionally, on each platform’s west end, a long flat overhead roof had staircases to Carll Avenue, one set to the east side of the street and one to the west side. On September 15 there was a public request by the village for an escalator.  It was warmly received and a study was set to determine the number of commuters using the stairs.  Haughton Elevator Co. of Long Island City later won the bid of $64,697 for construction and it was installed on the north platform by the end of 1966. Today, there are elevators on each platform just east of the waiting rooms and escalators adjacent to the staircases just west of the waiting rooms.[76]

LIRR Babylon Station central building and viaduct, view north (June 18, 2016)
LIRR Babylon Station central building and viaduct, view north (June 18, 2016)

Following completion of the grade crossing elimination project, work began to remove the temporary tracks and station.  It marked the first time since 1927 that there wasn’t a temporary track on the railroad for some major construction project.  Two additional improvements were also performed in the area.  At the two-span Little East Neck Road trestle, the original plan provided for traffic lanes under one span only, with the second span to be paved if future traffic required it.  However, the traffic in the area increased to such an extent that installation of additional traffic lanes under the second span was deemed necessary and added.  Secondly, a new street was set up north of the railroad viaduct, east of Carll Avenue to the station plaza on Sammis Street.  It improved traffic congestion during peak commuter times and made more parking available under the trestle.[77]

LIRR Babylon Station waiting room, south side exit (left), and west side exit (right) (July 17, 2016)
LIRR Babylon Station waiting room, south side exit (left), and west side exit (right) (July 17, 2016)

In the early-2000s, Babylon Station received an $8 million renovation.  In short, it included a new ticket window and waiting room, a rehabbing of the escalators, and reconstruction of parking areas for approximately sixteen additional spots.  The railroad also tore down the large masonry warehouse building on the northwest corner of Trolley Line Road and Carll Avenue near the electrical substation.  The entire project was expected to take between eighteen months and two years.  To make it as inconvenient as possible, Village Mayor E. Donald Conroy recommended that parking lot renovation work be done when school was out in late spring and summer.[78]

LIRR Babylon Station central building ticket area and south side exit (July 17, 2016)
LIRR Babylon Station central building ticket area and south side exit (July 17, 2016)

Work at the station began in late March of 2000.  In the first phase, a new roadway was constructed under the viaduct, just east of Depot Place, in advance of the construction of a new central building at the site of the existing Depot Place roadway.  Both the new road and new central building were to be completed during the first half of 2001 and the existing building, just west of the new central building, demolished.  In the second phase, the existing escalators were rehabilitated.  Caste stone columns with lighting were installed under the viaduct and large access doors were affixed to the central building.  Victorian gas lamps and landscaping were added to blend with village aesthetics.  Brick on the new central building was of similar design and color to the brick used on the high school adjacent to the station to establish a uniform appearance between the two sites.  Village officials requested no kiosks be installed at the station so as not compete with local business.  They also suggested the bus stop be moved under the viaduct to both give passengers shelter and clear the front of the station for vehicles.[79]

 
Next page: Suffolk


 

[1] “Beautiful Babylon,” Babylon Leader, May 20, 1925.

[2] Molly McCarthy, “A Rowdy Tavern Inspired a Name,” in Home Town Long Island: the History of Every Community on Long Island in Stories and Photographs (Melville, NY: Newsday, 1999), 65; “Babylon a Second Jamaica (Real Estate Ad),” Babylon Leader, May 20, 1925.

[3] “Modern Babylon, the Land of Real Promise,” Babylon Leader, May 20, 1925; Huntington – Babylon Town History (Huntington, NY: Huntington Historical Society, 1937), 238-239; Ibid., 249.

[4] Ibid., 241.

[5] Ibid., 248-249.

[6] Ibid., 241; McCarthy, “A Rowdy Tavern Inspired a Name,” 65.

[7] McCarthy, “A Rowdy Tavern Inspired a Name,” 65.

[8] 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), 67-69.

[9] “LIRR Stations,” Trains Are Fun, accessed on September 6, 2016, http://www.trainsarefun.com/lirr/stations/lirrstations.htm; Huntington – Babylon Town History, 249; Vincent F. Seyfried, The Long Island Rail Road: A Comprehensive History, vol. 1, South side R.R. of L.I. (Garden City, NY: Seyfried, 1984), 79; Ron Ziel and Richard Wettereau, Victorian Railroad Stations of Long Island (Bridgehampton, NY: Sunrise Special Ltd., 1988), 28; Box 2, Book 5, Robert M. Emery Long Island Rail Road Collection, Special Collections, Stony Brook University Libraries.

[10] Vincent F. Seyfried, The Long Island Rail Road: A Comprehensive History, vol. 2, Flushing, North Shore & Central Railroad (Garden City, NY: Seyfried, 1984), 150; Box 2, Book 5, Robert M. Emery Long Island Rail Road Collection; “Branch Notes,” Trains are Fun, accessed November 19, 2016, http://www.trainsarefun.com/lirr/branchnotes.htm.

[11] McCarthy, “A Rowdy Tavern Inspired a Name,” 65; Huntington – Babylon Town History, 249-254; Richard M. Bayles, Historical and Descriptive Sketches of Suffolk County with a Historical Outline of Long Island (Port Washington, NY: Ira J. Friedman Inc., 1962), 178.

[12] McCarthy, “A Rowdy Tavern Inspired a Name,” 65; Huntington – Babylon Town History, 249-254; Bayles, Historical and Descriptive Sketches of Suffolk County, 178; Ibid., 249.

[13] McCarthy, “A Rowdy Tavern Inspired a Name,” 65; Bayles, Historical and Descriptive Sketches of Suffolk County, 249.

[14] Ibid.

[15] McCarthy, “A Rowdy Tavern Inspired a Name,” 65; Staff of Long Island, Our Story, Home Town Long Island, 67-69.

[16] Vincent F. Seyfried, The Long Island Rail Road: A Comprehensive History, vol. 6, The Golden Age 1881-1900 (Garden City, NY: Seyfried, 1984), 269; Seyfried, Long Island Rail Road: A Comprehensive History, vol. 1, 79; Box 2, Book 5, Robert M. Emery Long Island Rail Road Collection; “Branch Notes.”

[17] Ziel and Wettereau, Victorian Railroad Stations of Long Island, 62-64.

[18] Ibid, 4-5.

[19] Bayles, Historical and Descriptive Sketches of Suffolk County with a Historical Outline of Long Island, 178; Huntington – Babylon Town History, 252; Madeleine C. Johnson, Fire Island: 1650s-1980s (Mountainside, NJ: Shoreland Press, 1983), 4.

[20] Ibid., 1-2.

[21] Ibid., 2.

[22] Ibid., 3.

[23] Ibid., 3-4.

[24] Ibid., 31-34; Ibid., 48.

[25] Ibid., 39.

[26] Ibid., 48-50.

[27] Huntington – Babylon Town History, 249.

[28] “Big Event in Railroading,” Suffolk County News (Sayville), May 22, 1925, http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/titles/places/new_york/suffolk; “History of Electric Service on Long Island Railroad,” Babylon Leader, May 20, 1925.

[29] “L.I.R.R. Pays 8 Million for ’24 Improvements,” County Review (Riverhead), March 5, 1925, http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/titles/places/new_york/suffolk; “History of Electric Service on Long Island Railroad”; “R.R. to Babylon Nearly Electrified,” Long-Islander (Huntington), March 20, 1925, http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/titles/places/new_york/suffolk.

[30] “L.I.R.R. Pays 8 Million for ’24 Improvements”; “History of Electric Service on Long Island Railroad”; First Electric Train Arrives: Makes Babylon on Tuesday with RR Officials,” Babylon Leader, May 8, 1925.

[31] “History of Electric Service on Long Island Railroad”; “First Electric Train Arrives: Makes Babylon on Tuesday with RR Officials”; “Radical L.I.R.R. Changes,” Long-Islander (Huntington), May 8, 1925, http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/titles/places/new_york/suffolk; “Big Event in Railroading.”

[32] “L.I.R.R. Pays 8 Million for ’24 Improvements”; “Electrification to Babylon Under Way,” Long-Islander (Huntington), January 2, 1925, http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/titles/places/new_york/suffolk; “Big Event in Railroad in Railroading”; “History of Electric Service on Long Island Railroad.”

[33] “First Electric Train Arrives: Makes Babylon on Tuesday with RR Officials”; “History of Electric Service on Long Island Railroad”; “Big Event in Railroad in Railroading”; “Radical L.I.R.R. Changes”; “Electrification to Babylon Under Way.”

[34] “Electric Trains to Babylon on May 20,” County Review (Riverhead), May 14, 1925, http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/titles/places/new_york/suffolk; “Babylon Depot Showing New Overhead Bridge and Center Platform,” Babylon Leader, May 20, 1925; “History of Electric Service on Long Island Railroad”; Ziel and Wettereau, Victorian Railroad Stations of Long Island, 64; Box 2, Book 5, Robert M. Emery Long Island Rail Road Collection; “Big Event in Railroad in Railroading.”

[35] “Babylon’s Gala Day May 20: Plans Progressing to Make Electrification Day One of Note,” Babylon Leader, May 1, 1925.

[36] Ibid.; “LIRR Famous Commuters: Four Men who have Ridden Million of Miles,” Babylon Leader, May 20, 1925.

[37] “Airplane Welcome Babylon Electric,” County Review (Riverhead), May 21, 1925, http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/titles/places/new_york/suffolk.

[38] “Electric Trains to Babylon on May 20”; “Electrification Celebration Next Wednesday, May 20th,” Babylon Leader, May 15, 1925; “Dana Wallace to Speak To-Day,” Babylon Leader, May 20, 1925.

[39] “Airplane Welcome Babylon Electric”; “Fireworks for Electrification Day,” Babylon Leader, May 15, 1925; “Dana Wallace to Speak To-Day”; “Governor Smith Visits Babylon,” Babylon Leader, May 20, 1925; “Judge Brown Saw 1st Train Pass on LIRR in 1844,” Babylon Leader, May 20, 1925; “Ed White Ran the First Train to Babylon in ‘68,” Babylon Leader, May 20, 1925.

[40] “History of Electric Service on Long Island Railroad.”

[41] “Babylon a Second Jamaica (Real Estate Ad),” Babylon Leader, May 15, 1925.

[42] Ibid.

[43] Ibid.

[44] Ibid.

[45] “Modern Babylon, the Land of Real Promise.”

[46] McCarthy, “A Rowdy Tavern Inspired a Name,” 65.

[47] Ibid.

[48] Staff of Long Island, Our Story, Home Town Long Island, 67-69; Johnson, Fire Island: 1650s-1980s, 175-176.

[49] Staff of Long Island, Our Story, Home Town Long Island, 67-69; Johnson, Fire Island: 1650s-1980s, 175-176.

[50] Ibid., 176-177.

[51] Ibid., 182-184; Tom Renner, “Open 1st Road Link to Fire Island in June,” Newsday (1940-1987), May 13, 1959, http://www.proquest.com.

[52] “Ready 500-G Captree Basin for June Opening,” Newsday (1940-1987), April 22, 1954, http://www.proquest.com; “State Votes $9,000,000 for Captree Causeway” Newsday (1940-1987), October 7, 1953, http://www.proquest.com; “Complete Last Span of Captree Bridge,” Newsday (1940-1987), October 7, 1953, http://www.proquest.com; Tom Morris and Jack Mann, “Baptism of Tire Opens Captree Bridge,” Newsday (1940-1987), June 14, 1954, http://www.proquest.com; “Moses to Preside at Captree Bridge Opening, June 12,” Newsday (1940-1987), May 28, 1954, http://www.proquest.com.

[53] Francis Wood, “Fire Island’s Future: Closeup on 3 Plans,” Newsday (1940-1987), June 5, 1962, http://www.proquest.com; John Ehrlich, “Plan 2nd ‘Jones Beach’ on Fire Island,” Newsday (1940-1987), February 22, 1958, http://www.proquest.com; Robert Moses, “Needed: Causeway to Fire Island, Newsday (1940-1987), September 13, 1969, http://www.proquest.com; “Fire Isle Span Moves Step Closer to Reality,” Newsday (1940-1987), January 24, 1961, http://www.proquest.com.

[54] Johnson, Fire Island: 1650s-1980s, 185-186.

[55] Robert Mayer, “4 Parkways, Parks Renamed After Him,” Newsday (1940-1987), June 28, 1963, http://www.proquest.com; “Robert Moses Bridge Open,” Newsday (1940-1987), June 13, 1964, http://www.proquest.com; “Robert Moses Bridge: Ready after 3 Years,” Newsday (1940-1987), June 11, 1964, http://www.proquest.com.

[56] “Widening set for Causeway to Fire Island,” Newsday (1940-1987), August 11, 1964, http://www.proquest.com; “Bridge Opens Today,” Newsday (1940-1987), April 22, 1968, http://www.proquest.com.

[57] John Valenti, “Summer’s Here: It’s Time For Paving in the Streets,” Newsday (Combined editions), June 24, 2001, http://www.proquest.com; Michael R. Ebert, “Work on Causeway Bridges will never End,” Newsday (Combined editions), June 24, 2001, http://www.proquest.com.

[58] Johnson, Fire Island: 1650s-1980s, 51; Phil Mintz, “Fire Island’s Beamin’ Beacon, 128-year-old Landmark is Back at Work,” Newsday (Combined editions), May 26, 1986, http://www.proquest.com; Bill Bleyer, “Fire Island Light in Loving Hands,” Newsday (Combined editions), December 19, 1996, http://www.proquest.com.

[59] Carolyn James, “Robert Moses Statue Comes to Life,” Babylon Beacon, June 13, 2002.

[60] “LIRR Promises Hoopla at 2 Project Openings,” Newsday (1940-1988), September 8, 1964, http://www.proquest.com; “LIRR Marks End of Train Crossings on Babylon Roads,” New York Times (1923 – Current file), September 10, 1964, http://www.proquest.com; “Rites Mark Elimination of LIRR,” Babylon Town Leader, September 10, 1964.

[61] “LIRR Marks End of Train Crossings on Babylon Roads”; “RR Project Bringing Big Changes: County Will Rebuild John, Smith Streets,” Babylon Town Leader, January 4, 1962.

[62] “RR Project Bringing Big Changes: County Will Rebuild John, Smith Streets; “Grade Crossing Job Means ‘Face Lifting’ for Babylon Village,” Babylon Town Leader, January 11, 1962; “RR Project Bringing Big Changes: County Will Rebuild John, Smith Streets.”

[63] Ibid.

[64] Ibid.

[65] “Commuter Parking OK during RR Job,” Babylon Town Leader, January 18, 1962

[66] “Commuter Parking OK during RR Job”; “Work will Start Tuesday on Eliminating Crossings,” Babylon Town Leader, February 1, 1962; “Elevated Service Began Today: Its L.I. ‘Skyroad’ in Babylon Now,” Islip Bulletin, September 10, 1964, http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/titles/places/new_york/suffolk.

[67] “Commuter Parking OK during RR Job”; “Hanse Proposes Fall-Out Shelter in Railroad Grade Embankment,” Babylon Town Leader, January 25, 1962.

[68] “Work will Start Tuesday on Eliminating Crossings”; “History in the Making,” Babylon Town Leader, February 8, 1962; “Beginning on Schedule,” Babylon Town Leader, February 15, 1962.

[69] Ibid.; “RR Grade Crossing Project Progressing on Four Fronts,” Babylon Town Leader, March 1, 1962; Box 2, Book 5, Robert M. Emery Long Island Rail Road Collection.

[70] “RR Project Work to Go East to West,” Babylon Town Leader, April 5, 1962.

[71] Ibid.; “Trolley Line Road to be Shut Monday,” Babylon Town Leader, June 7, 1962; “Aiming at the Station,” Babylon Town Leader, April 19, 1962; “The Red Platform Shelters are the Temporary Station at Babylon in 8/1964,” Trains are Fun, accessed on November 25, 2016, http://www.trainsarefun.com/lirr/babylon/redplatformshelterstemporary%20stationBabylon1964.jpg.

[72] “Trolley Line Road to be Shut Monday”; “The Jaws of Progress?,” Babylon Town Leader, July 26, 1962; “LIRR Stations.”

[73] “Road Closing Schedule is Announced by Mayor in Grade Crossing Elimination,” Babylon Town Leader, August 20, 1964.

[74] “Central Branch of the RR is now Elevated in Elimination Plan,” Babylon Town Leader, August 27, 1964; “Village Request for Elevator is Warmly Received at Hearing,” Babylon Town Leader, October 1, 1964; “$11.3 Million Project Nears Completion: Commuters Use Babylon’s Elevated R.R. Platform,” Islip Bulletin, August 27, 1964, http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/titles/places/new_york/suffolk; “New Elevated LIRR Track in Operation,” Newsday (1940-1988), August 31, 1964, http://www.proquest.com.

[75] “LIRR Project Completed,” New York Times (1923 – Current file), September 5, 1964, http://www.proquest.com; “New Elevated LIRR Track in Operation”; “Rites Mark Elimination of LIRR”; “LIRR Marks End of Train Crossings on Babylon Roads.”

[76] “Rites Mark Elimination of LIRR”; “Elevated Service Began Today: Its L.I. ‘Skyroad’ in Babylon Now”; “Central Branch of the RR is now Elevated in Elimination Plan”; “State Gets Low Bids for Projects on L.I.,” Newsday (1940-1988), February 16, 1966, http://www.proquest.com; “Village Request for Escalator is Warmly Received at Hearing.”

[77] “LIRR Promises Hoopla at 2 Project Openings”; “Village Request for Elevator is Warmly Received at Hearing”; “Village Condemns Land for New Street near RR,” Babylon Town Leader, November 19, 1964.

[78] Carolyn James, “Work at Babylon LIRR Station to Start this Month,” Babylon Beacon, March 16, 2000.

[79] Ibid.

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