When I snapped this shot looking east at Review Avenue and Laurel Hill Boulevard opposite Calvary Cemetery in 2011 I knew that I was taking a photo of one historic artifact but I didn’t know that within a few years, it would include two.
For over 100 years this was a stop on the Long Island Rail Road on what is now referred to as the Montauk Branch. The branch ran from Jamaica on tracks through Richmond Hill, Glendale, Fresh Pond, Haberman (an industrial business at 56th Road and 49th Street) and here, at Penny Bridge. The station had ben named for a steel truss bridge that crossed Newtown Creek, connecting Review and Meeker Avenues; according to legend, toll takers collected a penny to cross it at least through part of its history. The bridge was removed after the first Kosciuszko Bridge was built across the creek in 1939.
The station was actually active for a few morning and afternoon runs, using diesel powered locomotives pulling rattling MP-50 cars, until March 1998. This was just before I started carrying a camera with me everywhere for Forgotten New York so unfortunately, I have no visible record of the ride I took on the Montauk that month. By 1998 there were no stationhouses, sheds and very few signs — the stations were just clearings at the tracks, which were unelectrified. The LIRR finally ended service to these stations when new cars with high entrance steps were introduced; otherwise, the MTA would have to spend millions to build high level platforms for stations that saw 2 or 3 riders per day!
Periodically, one City Council member or the other floats ideas to electrify the tracks and turn them into a P or X subway line, but it’s just logrolling. The LIRR used the tracks for a couple of morning runs express from Jamaica to Long Island City until 2010 or so, but now all service to Long Island City, just a couple of trains a day, goes through Hunters Point and the Sunnyside Yards. The line is used completely for freight now.
In 2011, I had not yet heard of plans to demolish the 1939 Kosciuszko Bridge and build two cable-stayed spans to replace it. However work began on the first one in 2014, and it opened in 2017; the second one, with a sidewalk and bike path, is scheduled for 2020.