Rail Park


Top: Aerial of existing context, from Main Street to MTA rail yard
Bottom: Site plan of proposed interventions

Top: Aerial view of proposed downtown development, looking towards Main Street
1. New passenger rail station
2. Educational center with stationary exhibit sidings/retail/office
3. Mixed-use retail/office
4. Mixed-use retail/residential
5. Residential
6. Hotel
7. Multi-level parking deck (700 stalls)
8. Flexible commercial space with rail car acces
9. Rail park with access platforms
10. Existing historic train station (Rail Museum)
11. Convention center/community gathering space
12. Ancillary/service space for convention center with parking decks below grade (270 stalls)
13. Landscape green space with new trail system
Bottom left: View through new side street to Rail Museum
Bottom right: View west down Rail Park towards new passenger rail station

Top: View of access platforms with renovated cars in use, looking towards Car Bar
Bottom right: Diagram for access platform view
1. Rail car access station
2. Tri-level vehicle transport car renovated for art gallery/museum use
3. High-cube boxcar functioning as a farmer’s market
4. High-cube boxcar serving as a display for vertical gardens and farmer’s products
5. Rail car access platform
6. Pedestrian thoroughfare
7. Bicycle lane, connecting to existing streets and trails
8. Central rail car access station and flexible space
9. Car Barn: Rail car repair/renovation studios and Visitor’s Center
10. Landscaped buffer to adjacent existing industrial properties
Bottom left upper: Bar/Restaurant Car
Bottom left lower: Performance/Stage Car

Top: Aerial view of new Car Barn, yard, and Visitor’s Center at location of former MTA railyard
Bottom right: Diagram for Car Barn view
1. Rail car access platforms
2. Rail car access station
3. Railyard control tower/Visitor observation platform
4. Central access station (for large events, functions)
5. Rail car repair/restoration/renovation warehouse
6. Visitor’s and Interpretive Center
7. Overhead access for visitors (within warehouse as well to provide safe viewing over shop)
8. Rail car display siding
9. Visitor parking
Bottom left upper: Hopper car with trees
Bottom left lower: Tandem halfpipe cars


Long Island downtown centers such as Port Jefferson Station owe their existence to the rail line. But while it has been critical to the economy and identity of the hamlet, the railroad is also divisive and unattractive. It acts as a barrier to the stimulus the hamlet needs to be lively and have a growing economy. Rail operations in Long Island town centers must be re-evaluated, and their impact reconsidered, so that the rail line itself becomes a positive catalyst for the area.

This proposal seeks to reclaim land currently occupied by track infrastructure, creating a linear park space that allows for recreation, art, and commerce. This takes place in the rail corridor to the east of Main Street and is made possible by ending passenger rail service on the west side of Main Street. No longer limited by regular rail traffic, Main Street activity can freely expand to the south. The new rail station, marking the end of the rail line, is the centerpiece of new development and includes connections to other transit, such as ferry service. This development forms a new, denser neighborhood of mixed-use activity, while invigorating the historic Main Street area.

The new Rail Park space is then populated by a changing collection of pedestrian-friendly rail cars. The cars move on two tracks left in place, while a landscaped trailway for pedestrian and bike traffic occupies the remainder of the corridor. Platforms provide pedestrian access to the cars; trackside buildings provide utility services. Passage along the corridor ends at the former MTA storage yard, now a center where the community can interact with artists and engineers who adapt rail equipment for use and display in the Rail Park (or anywhere in the country).

The intersection of the railroad and Main Street is transformed into the true heart of Port Jefferson Station, becoming a destination for visitors and a vibrant neighborhood for residents. With the relocation of passenger service to the west of Main Street, and the redevelopment of the rail line as public space to the east, the railroad no longer divides the community, but unifies it.

With a dynamic mix of uses, the layout of new development promotes social interaction and supports increased commercial activity. The new area includes retail, office, cultural and residential uses. Flexible loft-like spaces with the ability to connect directly with the rail cars support a variety of cultural and commercial functions and events. The development replaces large areas of transit parking lots; commuters are now drawn through an active streetscape as a part of their routine.

The re-imagined rail corridor becomes a link to the adjacent urban nature of the hamlet, and provides opportunities for recreation, cultural interaction, and commercial stimulation that are unique to Port Jefferson Station. A changing array of re-engineered rail cars, accommodating a wide range of creative and compelling uses, populate this public space extending into the Downtown area. These cars create events along the generous walking and biking pathways which link to new green spaces and the surrounding neighborhoods, redefining the rail corridor as a positive asset to the nearby community.

The tracks function as a gallery for renovated rail cars, creating a new form of streetscape: Rail Park operators locate the cars for varying lengths of time at access platforms, creating events and activities that can be regularly scheduled and expected, or randomly occurring and surprising. Connection to the rest of the LIRR system is maintained through the new passenger station, allowing for a larger exchange of the renovated railcars – exporting/importing goods and ideas to the rest of Long Island or beyond.

The unsightly rail storage yard is relocated to the west of Main Street. The sidings of the former storage yard are reused as part of a new creative space where engineers and artists transform retired rail cars into pieces of art and interesting destinations, or restore historic equipment for educational use.

Part factory and part artist’s studio, this Car Barn supports activity in the Rail Park and becomes an attraction of its own. The public is welcomed to observe the activity of transforming the rail cars while a visitor’s center provides interpretive information on the process and history of the area. Modified rail cars can be seen here at all times, regardless of which cars are scheduled to be stationed at docks, platforms, or other stops on the LIRR.