Staten Island Rapid Transit (Images of Rail)

October 31, 2020
Staten Island Rapid Transit (Images of Rail)

Staten Island's first railroad began in 1860 as a passenger lineconnecting towns along the island's eastern shore, with ferryservice from Vanderbilt's Landing to Manhattan. The Staten IslandRapid Transit was a second line, built in 1885. During the 19thcentury, major eastern trunk railroads competed for the New Yorkfreight market. The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (B&O) was alatecomer but saw opportunity with Staten Island in 1886, buyinginterest in both railroads. The B&O took control of theisland's passenger service and turned it into a thriving commuterrailroad with three branches and nearly 40 stations, foreverchanging transportation in the borough. Reaching Staten Island fromCranford, New Jersey, the B&O built a major freight yard atArlington and a waterfront terminal at St. George. The railroad'scustomers ran the gamut from large industries like Procter &Gamble to small one-carload coal dealerships. By 1971, thecash-strapped B&O sold the passenger service to the New YorkCity Transit Authority (NYCTA), and by 1985, the B&O had leftNew York for good.Marc Pitanza grew up on Staten Island and became fascinated bythe railroad that served his hometown. Since 2009, he has lecturedextensively on the line and now presents a visual tour using imagesfrom the collections of some of New York's best railphotographers.