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A standing-room-only crowd jammed the glass-walled atrium in the Long Island Rail Road station’s AirTrain building in downtown Jamaica last week in a ceremony celebrating a century since the LIRR’s original depot opened in 1913.
“This station has been a staple of the community for 100 years and is a major hub of the Long Island Rail Road and a key part of our region’s transportation network,” said Borough President Helen Marshall.
Helena Williams, the 38th and first female president of the LIRR, served as master of ceremonies at an observance of the Jamaica station’s centennial last Friday. She explained that Tom Prendergast, chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which oversees the LIRR, had been called to a meeting in Albany and could not attend the proceedings.
“We celebrate the 100th anniversary of Jamaica Station, assured that it will continue to play a strategic role in the future of mass transit in our region,” she said.
“The MTA’s commitment to downtown Jamaica has never wavered,” Williams said. “A decade ago, we completed a major rehabilitation of Jamaica Station in conjunction with the construction of the AirTrain terminal by the Port Authority.”
Jamaica Station is the nerve center for the Long Island Railroad, the AirTrain and the J, E and Z subway lines serving both Manhattan and Brooklyn.
She pointed out that more than $300 million has been set aside for infrastructure upgrades to the railroad. Part of the LIRR’s future role will be providing service to Grand Central on the East Side of Manhattan, which will enable some passengers now traveling to Penn Station to avoid an additional cross-town commute.
“We are proud to be a part of Greater Jamaica,” Williams continued. “Our headquarters and Jamaica Station have been an anchor in this neighborhood for 100 years, bringing tens of thousands of travelers to Jamaica annually. We hope with this restoration to be here at least another hundred years.”
The event included the Oyster Bay High School wind ensemble performance of “Change at Jamaica,” a 10-minute instrumental piece by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Paul Moravec, of Adelphi University. Appropriately, the Oyster Bay musicians traveled to Jamaica by the LIRR.
The LIRR station is one of the best-known landmarks in Queens and home to the oldest railroad in the United States that still operates under its original name. Each weekday, the LIRR operates 732 trains with some 300,000 passengers traveling through Jamaica twice a day.
©2013 Community Newspaper Group
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