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Commuter Train, Woodside, Long Island, 1934

Commuters Boarding Train at Woodside, L.I.
New York State Archives, NYSA_A3045-78_Dn_LpY7
 
Document Description
A crowd of commuters boarding a train at Woodside on Long Island, New York, 1934.
 
Questions
How did the name "commuter" originate?
Why would one ride a commuter train?
If this man is getting on in Long Island, where might he be commuting to?
Locate Woodside on a map. How far is Woodside from Manhattan?
 
Historical Challenges
When was the train station in the photograph constructed?
 
Interdisciplinary Connections
English Language Arts: Create a passenger guide for those commuting on the train so they know where to get off. Create a persuasive poster to entice people to ride the commuter train. What makes it a good deal?
 
Resources
Collicutt, Paul. This Train. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1999. ISBN: 0374374937.
Petty, Kate. Some Trains Run on Water. Brookfield, CT: Copper Beach Books, 1997. ISBN: 076130598X, 0761306099.
Simon, Seymour. Seymour Simon's Book of Trains. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2002. ISBN: 0060284757, 0060284765.
 

Historical Context
Commuter trains got their name when the railroad companies realized that they could pick up additional passengers on trains already being operated if those trains entered the city in the morning hours (to coincide with the beginning of the work day) and departed at the end of the workday. It was cost-effective for the railroad company to pick up these extra passengers, because the trains would be running through cities; they just needed to make more stops to let people on and off.  The railroad companies realized that they had to cut fares (or "commute" part of the fare) to be attractive to passengers.  Thus the name "commuter" developed for the passenger who traveled back and forth regularly.
 
Essential Question
How does the availability of transportation affect the economic and cultural aspects of a society?
 
Check for Understanding
Describe the scene in the photograph and explain how this technology impacted the local communities.