On Jan. 20, 1966, after the Pennsylvania Railroad threatened to abandon the Long Island Rail Road, the state purchased the bankrupt railroad for $65 million. The state also agreed to lease the rights to use the Pennsylvania Station and East River tunnels. The buyer, the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation Authority (which later became the MTA), embarked on an aggressive capital campaign to raise funds for new track and rolling stock. It remains the busiest commuter rail line in the country today.
On Jan. 2, 1937, Queens was already looking forward to the 1939 World’s Fair. “Flushing Meadows Park will be listed as permanent borough benefit. Public improvements are valued at $8 million. Queens stands to gain more than any other borough,” wrote Frederick Mcnutt, president of the Queensboro Chamber of Commerce, in a letter to Richard Whitney, chairman of the World’s Fair bond sales committee. Mcnutt continues: “Not only will we get a park half again as large as Central Park, but other advantages will include such things as new highways, underpasses at bad intersections and improvements to Flushing Bay.”
On Jan. 2, 1890, the Steinway family set up a free circulating library for their employees and residents of the Steinway settlement who grew up around the factory. This library became the Long Island City Public Library, and with the consolidation of New York City, the Queens Library. The Queens Library has the largest circulation of any library in the nation, if not the world. A portrait of its original benefactor, William Steinway, still hangs on the wall of the main reading room of the Steinway branch on 31st Street.
The Greater Astoria Historical Society is open to the public on Saturdays, noon to 4 p.m., at Quinn’s Gallery, 4th Floor, 35 20 Broadway, Long Island City.
For further information, call the Greater Astoria Historical Society at (718) 278 0700 or log on to its Web site at www.astorialic.org.