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Locustwood / Gotham Civic Association
Elmont, Long Island, New York 11003

Next Meeting:

December 18
7:30 PM




Belmont Park's Train Terminal

Belmont Park Train Terminal

The History of the Terminal

Belmont Park's early success had be lead by the convenient access to the Long Island Railroad terminal. The terminal also served as a switch over, from the diesel trains from the city, to the steam-powered trains from the LIRR.  The original location of the terminal was south of Hempstead Turnpike. It is to be believed that the area known as the Locustwood Estates was once originally part of this massive terminal, that Belmont one time hoped to be the Penn Station equivalent on Long island. As we know now, that did not occur, as much of the transit system eventually merged together, forming today what is the MTA. Belmont endeavors in mass transit went to the creation of the subway system. Even in the original blue prints of the Train Terminal, there was a plan to connect a subway line to it.

The Terminal served as an integral component of transportation in 1910, as over 150,000 individuals attended the International Aviation Tournament held at Belmont Park, during the time horse racing was outlawed in New York State.

In 1917, part of the Terminal was damaged due to the great fire, that destroyed most of the park, including the luxurious clubhouse and horses. Adjacent to the original terminal until the 1920s was a steeplechase course track, named the Belmont Park Terminal.

When the Greater New York Association, then renamed to New York Racing Association the following year took over in 1955, the train terminal was moved to its present location north of the turnpike after the 1956 season.

The current terminal still helps to bring patrons to Belmont Park during the racing season. It has helped to secure Belmont Park's legacy in the history books as record holder of the largest attended sporting event and the only US venue to hold over 100,000 individuals in both centuries. As regular attendance declined since the 1970s, due to the establishments of Off Track Betting, and later technologies such as at home racing television channels and the internet, one thing still continued. When the races really mattered, people continue to show.

In 2002, 103,222 people attended Belmont Park to watch the Belmont Stakes, and then that record was broken two years later in 2004 with 120,139 in attendance.  In comparison, the number is almost doubled of that who attended the Super Bowl that year. The benefit of having a train station immediately adjacent to Belmont Park surely did help to attract large crowds.

Despites the rail system deterioration, and often comical stories of the train's inability to move back and forth from the station. The terminal still stands, on the Queens border, continually helping Belmont Park for its contributions to the history of sports and for its continual legacy.

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