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Interpreting the Evidence

Commuter Train, Woodside, Long Island, 1934

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Eras:

    The Great Depression and WW II (1929 - 1945)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Lower Elementary
    Upper Elementary
    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:


  • Primary Source Types:


  • Regions:

    Long Island
    New York State

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Commuter Train, Woodside, Long Island, 1934 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
A crowd of commuters boarding a train at Woodside on Long Island, New York, 1934.
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.
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?