Early in the twentieth century, after the consolidation of Greater NYC, the “wild west” era in LIC, Queens was tamed by centralized planning. Excavation of the Sunnyside Yards was used to provide landfill for filling the wetlands of LIC and after proper sewers were constructed the Yards were used as storage and repair of through trains from New Jersey to Long Island. The LIRR, which had been sold to the Pennsylvania Railroad, was electrified, lined with modern factory buildings and routed via tunnels to the new Penn Station. The Degnon terminal integrated rail and road transportation, canals and shoreline and LIC became the largest industrial concentration in NYC. The Montauk Cutoff connected the LIRR mainline from Woodside with the Montauk line along Newtown Creek to Jamaica.
In the last thirty years this landscape has again been the site of actual and proposed radical change. Gantry Park and the Queens West housing development usurped mainline LIRR access to the shoreline. In the Sunnyside Yards, the East Side Access Project is under construction to enable LIRR commuter trains to terminate at Grand Central. The Long Island City terminus of the Montauk line is linked to a new ferry landing in Hunter’s Point South. Part of the Degnon terminal railroad has been reworked into a green farming oasis called Smiling Hogshead Ranch. The MTA has received proposals for reusing the Montauk Cutoff elevated tracks beginning at the southern end of the Ranch.
We will convene outside the Hunters Pt. Ave. station (#7) and tour Smiling Hogshead Ranch with some of its volunteers. Then we will walk the length of the elevated Montauk Cutoff, enjoying its fabulous views and imagining its future. Returning to the Ranch we’ll rest in some lounge areas created by the Ranchers.
BYOD and snack; there are no nearby cafes or stores. “Go before you come!” This walk is mostly off-pavement and on railroad ties and recommended only for the sure-footed. After leaving the Ranch we will return to the subway and ride the #7 east over the Sunnyside Yards to observe that scene from above. The tour officially ends at 33 St. (#7) inside the subway system. Restaurant suggestions in nearby Sunnyside will be provided.
$20, includes $10 donation to the 596 Acres Community Land Access Program
$10 for members of the Montauk Cutoff coalition
FREE for Ranch volunteers.
Please contact Jack Eichenbaum, Queens Borough Historian, firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP. The tour is limited to 30 participants.