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A view of “Commuting Through Nature” by Cara Enteles at Merillon Station. (Credit: Christina Dieguez)

The Nature Of Moving Forward

A look at the history and art of Merillon Station

Located at the corner of Nassau Boulevard, Merillon Avenue, and County Court House Road, the Long Island Rail Road’s (LIRR) Merillon Station is an unassuming set of platforms when viewed from one angle, and a small but elegant, almost castle-like structure when viewed from another.

Like other LIRR stations in our area, it also contains more than a few freight cars’ worth of history, as well as one contemporary artist’s interpretation of the outpost as depicted through light-catching glass, with a side of wrought iron.

The history

Merillon Avenue Station was first established in 1911, with its first station house erected in 1912. The area was previously served by a station known as Clowesville (though not on the same spot), which also served the 19th-century seat of Queens County, and was reportedly named after a judge who owned property there at the time. 

That earlier station was established on the old Brooklyn and Jamaica Railroad, and historian Vincent F. Seyfried claimed in his 1966 book that, for a two-year period in the 1870s, the small depot was called Garden City despite the fact that another Garden City Station (famously established by Alexander Turney Stewart) already existed nearby on the Central Railroad of Long Island; according to Seyfried, this may have been intended to lure travellers away from Stewart’s hospitality and toward present-day Garden City Park instead.

Merillon Station remained the same for several decades before being rebuilt in the late 1950s, when a track bridge at Nassau Boulevard was also added next to it. As part of the LIRR’s Main Line Expansion Project, the bridge and the tracks were revamped again around 2019, and a brand new station building was constructed as well, with the finishing touches appearing in just the last couple of years.

As most residents of Garden City Park and adjacent neighborhoods are aware, Merillon Station was also the site of a major tragedy on December 7, 1993, when a disturbed and apparently racially motivated gunman shot and killed six people and wounded 19 others on an eastbound train just after making the Merillon stop. Neighbors and loved ones of those who were murdered that day have often placed wreaths or flowers on or near trackside at Merillon Station in the years since. Last month, County Executive Bruce Blakeman joined with other local leaders and community members to mark the 30th anniversary of the massacre, and to honor the lives of those lost three decades ago.

In recent years, Merillon Avenue Station has remained a busy depot for the residents of Garden City Park and neighboring areas, and offers a decent view of several major roadways, pedestrian paths, and patches of green that surround it.

Since 2021, the station has also been home to a dazzling work of glass art, created by New York-based artist Cara Enteles, whose work has also been exhibited at Wave Hill, the Long Island Museum, the Islip Art Museum, and in Europe.

The artwork, via MTA
Arts & Design

“Cara Enteles’ ‘Commuting Through Nature’ at the Merillon Avenue station celebrates the bucolic landscape of Garden City and brings nature prominently into the station. The glass windows of the elevator towers show a mix of local wildflowers and foliage that create floral lacework, giving way to a landscape of windswept sky and the bodies of water that enliven and define Long Island. The concept of the artwork is centered on the monarch butterfly, considered by the artist to be ‘the ultimate commuter,’ which makes a 3,000-mile migration, including a stop in Long Island, every September.” 

“The butterflies appear alongside flowers and plants familiar to residents of Garden City or visitors to the Garden City Bird Sanctuary. Among them are various types of Milkweed, Asters, Queen Anne’s Lace, vines, and other local plant life, lovingly selected by Enteles, who is an avid gardener. The exaggerated scale of the floral vistas and butterflies allows those who encounter the artwork to become immersed in the local natural landscape. The images are activated by light that changes over the course of a day, and through the seasons of the year.” 

“Enteles’ paintings were translated into the 50 hand-painted, laminated glass panels located throughout the station by fabricator Glasmalerei Peters Studio. A metal decorative fence depicting Enteles’ kaleidoscopic pattern of butterflies is also installed at the station, via the Nassau Avenue pedestrian bridge.”

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