Tuesday Tour of the Harlem Line: Brewster

There is always a little part of me that considers Brewster my home station. It was from here that I took my first Metro-North train. I even ran away from home once – I managed to get to Brewster and hopped on a train. When I first started my job out of college I made the 25-mile trek from my parents’ house in Connecticut over to Brewster every morning and evening. I always loved the little station building, and remember it prior to the renovations made for the added cafe. At that time the ticket window was moved to the other side of the room, where it still is currently. Though many ticket windows have closed, the one in Brewster remains.

Historically Brewster was always an important part of the Harlem Valley. The New York and Putnam Railroad (later, the Putnam Division) met with the Harlem at Brewster (Putnam Junction). There was once a turntable and roundhouse where steam engines could be serviced, but was removed when that technology became obsolete. The Brewster Standard, a local newspaper, even called Brewster “the hub of the Harlem Valley.” The name of the station derives from Walter Brewster, who owned the farmland the original station was built on, and many early maps refer to the stop as “Brewster’s.” Gail Borden had a condensed milk factory in the town (in addition to the one also on the Harlem in Wassaic) and on your way to the station you’ll probably pass over the Borden Bridge, where his condensed milk crossed and headed out to the Union troops in the Civil War.

Today Brewster is still an important station, and gets many passengers from across the state lines. Despite the usage it remains a small station and the platform can only accommodate four train cars. The old station building houses a small cafe called “The Dining Car” and a ticket window. Despite having been to Brewster a million times, I had never photographed it until July. I visited on a scorching-hot Saturday in July when the sky was a beautiful blue…









5 thoughts on “Tuesday Tour of the Harlem Line: Brewster

  1. For those of us of a certain age, Brewster will always be the hometown of Ann Marie (Marlo Thomas) from the classic late 60s sitcom, “That Girl” (just as New Rochelle will always be the home of Rob & Laura Petrie).

    1. Yeah, but for some reason, the opening theme has her on the line along the Eastern Spur of the New Jersey Turnpike, around where Secaucus Junction is today.

  2. Quote: “There was once a turntable and roundhouse where steam engines could be serviced, but was removed when that technology became obsolete.”

    I ride from Brewster for the most part and I can’t picture where this could have been. The line is pretty much in a valley the whole way. Even the area at the”Southeast” (formerly Brewster North) yard seems too small for such an installation. Was it off to the west on one of the abandoned lines? Just curious.

    1. Technically the yard was at Putnam Junction- slightly north from Brewster station. Brewster is at mile post 51.9, Putnam Junction was at 52.3, and the yard was to the west of that.

  3. Thanks for the pictures Emily.They bring back a lot of memories.I can’t say I used Metro North much until 20 years ago because my sister had moved from the Bronx up to New Fairfield. Then I had to learn a new way of catching trains.I was so used to using the subway and knowing what train was what because they had signs on the train that and you pretty much knew what the train was and where it was going.When I first used Metro North I was headed for Brewster and wound up taking the train to Stanford.I didn’t realize it till i finally saw the conductor and asked if this train was going to Brewster.He said no you have to catch one of the blue trains.The train I caught was red.I had to get off several stops up and go back to Fordham Rd station and start all over.

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