The Babylon Branch of the LIRR is the beginning of any trip east on southern Long Island, and the ocean is a presence as you pass through its stations – wait on any platform and you’ll hear the call of seagulls, borne aloft in a cool breeze off the Atlantic. If you don’t have a trip planned anytime soon, take a ride with our video tour of four of the branch’s newly modernized stations, Wantagh, Bellmore, Merrick and Baldwin.
At Baldwin Station, new information totems now greet customers at each entrance to the station, and bicycle racks have been installed in the station plaza. The station waiting room is now home to new benches and a USB charging station, and new LED information screens have been placed on either side of the ticket window. The platform has been sealed, new tactile strips have been installed, and there are two new USB charging stations and new benches in the platform waiting room.
Don’t miss the exquisite waiting room at Merrick Station: the walls have been tiled and painted, and four modern LCD screens provide passenger information. For customer comfort, a new HVAC system maintains climate control, the men’s and women’s bathrooms have been refurbished and new benches and USB charging stations are now available. MTA Arts & Design has installed James Gulliver Hancock’s artwork “Connection Cultivating Communities,” in the station waiting room: the piece begins with the idea of the LIRR map as a tree branch extending outward, imagining each town along the line as blossoms. The unique communities of Long Island are presented in Hancock’s whimsical, playful style, with small, colorful details. It’s a love letter to Long Island and a gift to the people of Merrick.
There’s more art to enjoy at the modernized Bellmore Station, which is now home to Dan Funderburgh’s ceramic tile and glass mosaic artwork, SHOAL (2018), which celebrates the journey between home and away and the flow of people, history, and identity throughout Long Island. The station has received a full menu of station upgrades, including platform rehabilitation and a new platform canopy – the platform waiting room has been renovated and now includes new windows, doors, wall tiles, lighting and a new HVAC system for customer comfort.
Our last stop is Wantagh Station, the gateway to spectacular Jones Beach, a summertime haven for thousands of New Yorkers. The platform has been replaced here, and when it’s cold outside, customers can take shelter inside a new heated platform waiting room. Other improvements include a new elevator, the replacement of the existing escalator, a new center staircase, the refurbishment of four other staircases, the installation of a new segmented platform canopy and energy-efficient platform lighting. New signage, and a new public-address system, are also improving the customer experience. Marc Dennis’s Where Dreams Come to Play (2017), a laminated glass and mosaic depicting scenes of an idyllic and imaginative day at Jones Beach and commissioned by MTA Arts & Design, has been installed in the platform waiting room. Enjoy!