The view of the concrete Richmond Hill trestle from Hillside Avenue lets us see one of the Long Island Rail Road’s more intriguing relics: the Keystone.
The LIRR was run under the auspices of the now-defunct Pennsylvania Railroad from 1900 to 1966, and in those years, the LIRR signage adopted the “Pennsy” keystone symbol, since Pennsylvania is called the Keystone State. Until 1955, the LIRR’s chuffing steam engines all carried a keystone plate on their noses, when the last steam engine was retired from active service. One of their complement, Steam Engine #39, is exhibited, Pennsy plate included, at the Railroad Museum of Long Island in Riverhead.
Surprisingly, few Pennsylvania Railroad relics, aside from the name of the main terminal in New York City, remain from the LIRR’s Pennsy days; this is one of the few.
Pop star Lady Gaga, meanwhile, is from Manhattan, not Queens, though she did show up in Astoria in late 2015 at a new restaurant’s opening night, the Pomeroy, as she is a friend of the owner.
Service on this branch of the LIRR, known as the Montauk Branch from Long Island City to Jamaica, ran in a limited fashion (2-4 trains a day) until 1998. Today, it has converted to 100% freight use, although in my opinion the MTA is missing out on an opportunity to run passenger service through underserved areas.