by Kevin Walsh

March 2019 marks Forgotten New York’s 20th anniversary. To mark the occasion, I’ve re-scanned about 150 key images from the early days of FNY from 35MM prints. In the early days, when people including me were accessing FNY with dial-up modems, I had to save photos really small — in some cases, just 4″ across. I couldn’t find all those early photos — I think I foolishly discarded some along the way — but all month, and into April, I’ll be picking out some and showing the newly scanned versions.

Here’s a photo I took on a stop at Shea Stadium on a “fan trip” in September 1999 using LIRR MP72 units, ran by push-pull diesel engines. We were visiting old station houses around the Island, and one of the stops was the 1890s-era Port Washington station. It was quite unusual to see these old rattling cars, in use since the 1950s, on the Port Washington, a fully electrified line. The cars by then were bare bones affairs with thin red carpeting on the walls. Nevertheless, they were standard issue for the Rail Road’s easternmost sectors whose tracks didn’t have a third rail and needed to be pulled by engines. They did not fade away completely until newer dual-power double decked cars were purchased in 2002.

The Shea Stadium station has changed, too. In 1999, it was lit by banks of fluorescent lamps. A decade or so later, the stanchions had been allowed to remain, but held high intensity LED lamps. The name of the station was changed in 2009 to “Mets-Willets Point,” as the use of the stadium’s name, Citifield, would be considered advertising on MTA signage, and was thus ruled out. I’m unsure of this station’s lineage. I imagine it was first built for the 1939-1940 World’s Fair, or was it the 1964-65 Fair? If the latter, did trains stop there at all in the years between the Fairs? As is, the station has always had a rough and ready quality, which did not improve much even after Citifield opened in 2009.

Last but not least, in the background we see the Corona IRT Yards, in 1999 the bastion of now-retired and scrapped R-33 and R-36 cars, known as “Redbirds” for their maroon red paint job. Originally, the cars had a distinctive blue and white paint scheme to match the 1964-65 color signage scheme. They were painted maroon in the 1980s as the MTA mounted its final, and successful, offensive against the graffiti scourge of the 1970s.

Check out the ForgottenBook, take a look at the gift shop, and as always, “comment…as you see fit.”



Jeff B. March 13, 2019 - 10:34 pm

Willets Point station has been around since 1928 when the Flushing Line opened to Main St-Flushing. The station was rebuilt for the 1939-40 World’s Fair and the bridge over the trains was built. Info is condensed from

Kevin Walsh March 14, 2019 - 10:21 am

I mean the LIRR station, not the 7 train.

Michael M March 14, 2019 - 10:32 am

Not sure about the MTA station name convention, in Brooklyn we do find- “Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center”

Kufat March 14, 2019 - 3:50 pm

In that case, the MTA sold naming rights for $200k/year.

Andy March 14, 2019 - 12:00 pm

The LIRR cars shown are MP72 models, built in 1955-56 originally as electric MU cars, and used on all of the electrified branches, including Port Washington, until about 1974. I remember them on the Port Washington in my younger days when I lived in that area. In 1974, the M1 electric car became the sole rolling stock in LIRR third rail territory. The MP72 (and sister MP75 cars, the ones with a slightly lower roofline) were then rebuilt for diesel push-pull service, in order to provide diesel branch customers with a fully air-conditioned car fleet to match the electric branches. After that, these cars were known as P72 and P75 models.

So the cars shown indeed stopped at the World’s Fair-Shea Stadium stop when that stop opened in 1964, and of course beyond as service was provided for Mets and Jets games.

Should also note that a similar-looking of fleet of cars, the P72 EH, were also built in 1955-56 but were only used on diesel-hauled trains, as they were never equipped to run as electric MU cars. These cars did not operate in push-pull mode, but were simply pulled by a diesel engine and required a Wye to turn the engine at terminals. The EH (electric heat) refers to their use of electric generators below the floor to provide power for heat, lights, and air conditioning.

All of these diesel-hauled cars continued to run until 2000, when the current bi-level coaches completely replaced the older fleet.

Kevin Walsh March 14, 2019 - 5:39 pm

So they were diesel hauled on the Port Washington?

Andy March 14, 2019 - 10:21 pm

The MP72 and MP75 coaches never operated any regular diesel service on the Port Washington Branch, as this branch has been electrically operated ever since 1910. In their original iterations as electric MU (multiple-unit) coaches, between 1955 and about 1974, these cars indeed were in regular service on the PW Branch and other LIRR electric lines. After being retrofitted for diesel push-pull mode, they operated only on LIRR’s non-electric lines – Oyster Bay, Montauk, Port Jefferson (east of Huntington), and Ronkonkoma (after 1988, only east of Ronkonkoma to Greenport). Of course, these trains did use electrified tracks on their journeys to and from Hunterspoint Ave., Jamaica, and their various eastern terminals beyond third rail territory. But the retrofitted MP72 and MP75 coaches never operated any regular PW branch service.

Tal Barzilai March 14, 2019 - 4:34 pm

Surprisingly, they didn’t change the name of this LIRR station even though the nearby subway stop was recently despite the fact that very stadium it was named for has been demolished a decade ago as the one there has replaced it has been there since.

Kevin Walsh March 14, 2019 - 5:37 pm

It was changed.

Tal Barzilai March 14, 2019 - 8:36 pm

Now that I looked at it over on Wikipedia, I just realized that the LIRR stop was renamed, so I guess I just didn’t pay attention to that.

Nunzio March 14, 2019 - 9:44 pm

No, Kevin- the MP72’s were electric cars; they were later converted to be hauled by diesels when they were replaced by M1’s on the electric branches.

William Mangahas March 14, 2019 - 5:55 pm

“So they were diesel hauled on the Port Washington?”

ERA Fan trip.

Bill March 15, 2019 - 10:03 am

You might be interested in this academic article about The Great Gatsby but closely related to the subject at hand. Maps, photos:

Ken Buettner March 19, 2019 - 12:37 pm

If you walk all the way to the east end of the platform and look across the westbound tracks you can spot a real treat. This is where the Whitestone Branch started its run through College Point, ending at Whitestone Landing. If you look carefully you can see see tracks, in the swamp grass, that start to follow the old right-of-way alongside the #7 train yard.
The Whitestone Branch also is why the current station at Flushing is called “Flushing Main Street”, the only station on the LIRR with a name that identifies both the community (Flushing) and a road crossing (Main Street). Before the Whitestone Branch was discontinued, it had a stop at the foot of the drawbridge over the Flushing River, at what was then known as Bridge Street, and which we now know as Northern Boulevard. That stop, logically, was “Flushing Bridge Street”. Although there is no longer a need to differentiate between two stations in Flushing, the old name continues to be used.

Bill March 19, 2019 - 8:44 pm

Man, the different tarnishes on those car roofs! You don’t see that down waiting on the platforms.


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