The Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation has given a $226,632 grant to the Friends of the New York Transit Museum to help chronicle Long Island transportation history.
The money will be used to survey, identify, catalog and digitize an extensive trove of historic material that tells the story of the Long Island Rail Road and related history.
The New York Transit Museum will make collections related to the rich transportation history of Long Island, including documents, photographs, maps, postcards, timetables, ephemera, employee memorabilia and more, freely accessible online to scholars, students and the public at nytransitmuseum.org/collections.
The centerpiece of the three-year project will be cataloging and digitizing a recent collections acquisition from MTA Long Island Rail Road, nearly 1,700 early documents, dating as far back as 1836.
Books of hand-drawn land maps detailing the railroad’s routes from Brooklyn, Hunters Point, and Jamaica through Nassau and Suffolk counties and along the North and South Forks to Greenport and Montauk are annotated with the names of the families that sold the land. Transaction records and annual reports record decisions and personalities that helped shape the LIRR and the areas it served.
“The Transit Museum’s collection offers a unique view into our regional past,” Kathryn Curran, executive director of the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, said in a written statement. “The hand-drawn maps alone listing the lands acquired for the Long Island Rail Road lines reads as a genealogical research tool. The farmers, the landowners, the villages all are noted and their lands delineated. This is just one area of the thousands of documents that personalizes the story transportation played in the history of each of our individual communities, their changes and development.”
Established in 1987, the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, based in Hampton Bays, primarily supports the study of Long Island history and its role in the American experience. Robert David Lion Gardiner was, until his death in August 2004, the 16th Lord of the Manor of Gardiner’s Island. The Gardiner family and their descendants have owned Gardiner’s Island since 1639, obtained as part of a royal grant from King Charles I of England.