Exploring New York’s Long Island
The Long Island Railroad (LIRR) is the busiest commuter railway in North America. It is also one of the oldest. It has been operated under the same name since 1834. It is now publicly owned as part of the MTA Corporation that also runs New York’s subway system.
The network stretches east from a terminal at New York’s Penn Station onto Long Island and then divides into two main branches both of which stretch most of the length of Long Island.
The two branches have a series of sub branches as well mostly at the New York end. I have often used the trains of the Long Island Railroad on my way from Penn Station to Jamaica in Queens for the connection from there to JFK airport.
Long Island itself is 118 miles long and lies just off the eastern coast of the USA mainland. Its western end forms part of New York City, specifically the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, and it is a statistical fact that most New Yorkers actually live on Long Island.
Nevertheless, when people talk about “Long Island” they usually mean the eastern bit that is not in New York; they mean the rural bit that stretches north-east.
I have explored Long Island twice on two separate road trips. Both times involved renting a car at JFK and heading east. Once was in autumn 2008 with two close friends over a weekend and once was in summer 2014 over two days with my wife.
The first time we set off late from JFK on a Friday evening and only made it half way down the island to a Marriot near Brentwood. The next day we continued our tour passing through “the Hamptons” and inspecting Montauk lighthouse before heading up to the north to stay near Greenport.
We returned slowly on the Sunday stopping off for a long breakfast in East Hampton on the way back to the Airport.
The second time we spent a whole afternoon winding our way down to Montauk and then had a couple of nights there relaxing and touring a much smaller area before returning to JFK again. We visited East Hampton on that visit too.
East Hampton is one of the oldest settled places in the USA and contains many buildings that date from before the revolutionary war.
The Hamptons are famous as the playground of the rich elite of New York and there are many summer homes in the area owned by the wealthy and famous.
Montauk is famous for its 200 year old lighthouse and also for its beaches.
The whole surrounding area has some terrific seafood places. There are plenty of formal restaurants but the little roadside calm and lobster shacks are fun to stop off too.
The train actually runs all the way from Montauk to Pennsylvania Station. Although with a journey time of more than 3 hours it is not really suitable for a daily commute.
There are actually special faster trains that run down from New York to the Hamptons on Friday nights in summer with balancing trips back on Sunday afternoons.
I think I have some more exploring to do on Long Island and next time I may just take the train.