Crazy Facts About the Long Island Rail Road

Dating back to the early 19th century, the ubiquitous rail road has a lot of history.

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Photo: Stock image [Shutterstock]

It’s the railroad Long Islanders love to hate. Commuters complain about delays, hot or cold cars, overcrowding, and the age of its commuter cars. Yet, the railroad has a history that tracks with the expansion of Long Island as one of America’s greatest suburbs. It gets people to their jobs everyday and travellers head to “the city” for sporting events, concerts, holiday fun, and to shop, eat, and party.


We compiled some interesting facts about the Long Island Rail Road below. How many did you know?


  • The Long Island Rail Road Company was formed on April 24, 1834
  • It was originally called the “Long Island Railroad Company” but is now generally known as the “Long Island Rail Road.” The word Railroad in its name was changed to two words Rail Road
  • The  LIRR was originally built as a rail/ferry/rail connection from New York to Boston
  • The train tracks reached Hicksville in1837
  • In 1844 the railroad made its first trek from Brooklyn to Greenport
  • The ride took three and a half hours
  • In the mid-1800s the LIRR went bankrupt

Photo: Stock image [Shutterstock]

  • Competing railroad companies on Long Island were consolidated in the late 1800s into the LIRR
  • Austin Corbin, the railroad executive and robber baron who presided over the LIRR expansion and consolidation in the 19th century died when he was thrown out of a carriage in 1896
  • The LIRR was the first to install a steam whistle on a locomotive
  • The LIRR was reportedly sold to the Pennsylvania Railroad for $6 million in 
  • The LIRR had its own Police Department that was founded in 1868
  • In 1998 the LIRR Police Department became the MTA Police
  • There are whole histories dedicated to the evolution of the conductor's uniform buttons and cap badges
  • On Thanksgiving eve in 1950, two trains collided between Kew Gardens and Jamaica stations killing 78 people and injuring 363. It is considered the worst accident in LIRR history

Photo: Stock image [Shutterstock]

  • LIRR parlor cars would serve drinks. A martini or manhattan might cost $1.05 and a beer 60 cents
  • In 1957, “Dashing Dan” was introduced and began to appeared on LIRR trains, equipment, and printed material. to represent the harried commuter
  • The tagline for Dashing Dan was “The Route Of The Dashing Commuter”
  • In 1962, a “Dashing Dottie” was added
  • In the early 1970s the MTA used helicopters to patrols LIRR tracks to help it fight vandalism
  • The LIRR opened to Montauk in 1895
  • In 1901, the LIRR was purchased by the Pennsylvania Railroad
  • The modern LIRR has 124 stations on 11 lines
  • The budget for the LIRR is over $1 billion
  • Its revenue is about $790 million a year
  • In 2018,the LIRR experienced a new modern record in ridership, carrying 89.8 million passengers
  • The previous post‐war record was 91.8 million passengers in 1949
  • Over the past 30 years, system‐wide ridership has grown by 19%