The life of a subway cat…

If you’re a regular New York City subway rider, it is highly likely that at least at some point during your journeys you’ve seen a subway rat. Rats are such a plague on the system that someone even started a site called Rate My Rat (thankfully, Metro-North doesn’t have to worry about this problem quite so much – though there are always exceptions). Since the New York Transit Museum is housed in a retired subway station, they too have visiting rats. And who better to take care of those rats than a cat?

 

Enter Sadie the subway cat, an adorable feline that has already been featured here once before. Though she may have been adopted to keep the rats in check, I’m told that she doesn’t too much in terms of catching rats. In fact, one of the security guards at the museum told me she got scared and ran away from a rat once, without even hissing or making a noise at it.

Sadie is, however, one of my favorite parts of the museum. It had been nearly two years since I saw her last – as every time I visited the museum she was somewhere hiding. But on my most recent visit, she was in a strange mood and starving for attention. She interrupted several tour groups of children, and wandered around the museum’s various restored cars while I snapped her photo. She’s gotten quite chubby since the last time I saw her, but she’s still adorable. Not like the Transit Museum will listen to anything I suggest, but I most definitely think they ought to get her a cat cam. It would be interesting to see the museum from a cat’s point of view!

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Photos from the Toronto Railway Heritage Centre

A few weeks (months!) ago I began going through all of my yet-unposted photographs, and presented some shots from the old roundhouse in Toronto. That roundhouse is currently occupied by three different organizations, the brewery which I previously featured, a furniture store, and the Toronto Railway Heritage Centre. The TRHC is a relatively young organization, and the first part of their museum proper, in Roundhouse Park, opened in May of last year. I got a chance to visit the place at the start of their opening season, and took a ride on their mini railway. I also took lots of pictures – and procrastinated in posting them. So a few months shy of a year, here they are.

Volunteers are still working hard to make Roundhouse Park a great museum devoted to rail history in Canada. The significant feature of the park, the John Street Roundhouse, was completed in 1931, and used by the Canadian Pacific Railway up until 1986. It was eventually donated to the city of Toronto. A 60,000-gallon water tower exists in its original location (the water tower had to be moved during construction of the parking garage for the Convention Centre, which is underneath Roundhouse Park. Portions of the roundhouse were also dismantled and then reconstructed), now painted with the Steamwhistle Brewing logo.

Also located in the park are Don Station and Cabin D. Don Station was constructed in 1896 and was originally located alongside the Don River. The station was relocated to Roundhouse Park, and serves as a point to purchase tickets for the 7.25″ gauge miniature railway. Cabin D was also originally built in 1896, by the Grand Trunk Railway, and it coordinated track switches and signal lights. It was also relocated to Roundhouse Park.

All of these facilities in the park are beginning to look amazing, and the miniature railway serves as a fun way to tour the grounds. Don Station once again serves as a station, as opposed to the boarded up shell it once was before being moved to the park. Writing about places like the Railway Heritage Centre, the Milton on Hudson station, and even the Danbury Railway Museum, I’m always amazed by the sheer determination of rail-interested volunteers. The Toronto Railway Heritage Centre is certainly shaping up to be quite a wonderful place, and if you ever happen to be in the Toronto area, I highly recommend it.

 
  
   
  
 
  
   
 
  
   
   
 
   

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Photos from the Holiday Train Show at the Botanical Garden

Several weeks ago I got a chance to take my first visit to the New York Botanical Garden to see the Holiday Train Show. For all the folks out there that have any experience with model railroading, you are familiar with the fact that it is a rather expensive hobby. I can only imagine how much the setup at the Botanical Garden took, not only in dollars, but in time as well. The amazing array of recognizable current and historical landmarks is astounding, and created of plant matter. I was quite fascinated with the beautiful textures: the layered leaves and twigs that comprised the roofs, covered bridges made of tree barks, building details made of seeds and acorns, and the thin imitation of glass illuminated from the inside. Current landmarks, such as Grand Central Terminal, stand side by side with recreations of the city’s long-gone masterpieces: from the house of William Kissam Vanderbilt that once stood on Fifth Avenue, to the stunning Pennsylvania Station.

I would definitely consider the Holiday Train Show to be a must-see holiday event. You still have a bit of time to get over to the Botanical Garden and see it, if you haven’t done so already. The show runs until January 9th. If you have the ability to visit on a weekday, I would highly suggest it. The weekend afternoon time I visited was quite busy, and I would have loved to not have to get kicked, or have my camera tugged on, by various small children. You can even purchase your tickets to the show online. And of course, getting to the Botanical Garden is easy on the Harlem Line via Metro North.

  
  
 
   
   
 
  
 
   
 
   
 
 
 
 
   
 

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Photos in New Milford, and Christmas Events in CT

On my childhood journeys over the river and through the woods to get to my grandmother’s house, I always passed by the train station in New Milford. I never thought about stopping until more recently, where I snapped a few photos. This Housatonic Railroad station doesn’t get much action, though there have been thoughts to extend the Danbury Branch the three more miles up to New Milford. Then again there have also been suggestions of eliminating the Danbury Branch altogether. Oh wait, never mind.

 
  
 
  
 
  
 

Today the station serves as the New Milford Chamber of Commerce, which hosts various events. The day I was there, there was a book signing and tons of people, so I didn’t go in to take any photos. An upcoming event that may be of interest, however, is the 23rd Annual Hands On Train Display, which will be in the station from December 18th to December 31st, 12 pm to 4 pm daily. The event is free, but is closed on Christmas day.
For more information about the event, click here.

 
Photo Credits: Danbury Railway Museum Newsletter

The Danbury Railway Museum always hosts holiday events, and Christmastime is no exception. Santa’s Railway rides will be running Saturdays December 11 and 18, starting at noon, and Sundays December 5, 12, and 19, starting at 12:30. Trains are every half hour, and run until 3:30. Reserving your tickets in advance is suggested. Admission is $8, which includes the ride, a gift, and of course, a visit with the big man himself, Santa Claus.
For more information, or to reserve tickets, click here.

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Holidays on the Harlem Line

Did I ever mention that sometimes I wonder if I picked the wrong profession? I enjoy graphic design but advertisements? For things like Christmas? Bah humbug, I hate Christmas. Well, no, actually I hate being told that I am required to purchase extravagant gifts for a particular person. Honestly, I’d much rather give someone a for no reason other than this reminded me of you present. But yet, here I am, working on last minute ads for Black Friday…

Just this once though, just for my lovely readers, I will pretend that I enjoy the holidays, and fill you in on all the train and holiday related good stuff on the Harlem Line and in the city.

Discounts to see the Christmas Spectacular or Wintuk

In case you missed last week’s Mileposts, those interested in seeing the Rockettes in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, or Cirque du Soleil’s Wintuk can get a discounted ticket thanks to Metro-North. In addition to the discount, you also receive a free roundtrip train ticket to go see the show! When purchasing tickets for these events, use the promo code METRO in order to apply this promotion. For more information, details, restrictions and the like, check out these pages:
Tickets for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular
Tickets for Wintuk

Discounts on the Nutcracker in White Plains

Another holiday event with discounts is at the Westchester County Center in White Plains. The Nutcracker, performed by the Westchester Ballet Company, will have shows on the 17th, 18th and 19th of December. Coupons are available on Westchester County’s website (after completing a short survey).
For information on purchasing tickets, click here.

Grand Central Holiday Fair

Every Christmas season Vanderbilt Hall is filled with various vendors selling their wares, and this year is no exception. The fair will run until December 24th, and is closed on Thanksgiving. For more information about hours, and a vendor map, check out this event page.

Holiday Train Show in Grand Central

The Transit Museum will again be hosting their Holiday Train show in their annex in Grand Central Terminal. Hours are as follows:
Monday – Friday 8:00 AM to 8 :00 PM
Saturday & Sunday 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
The show will run until January 17th.


Video from last year’s Holiday Train Show

Holiday Train Show at the Botanical Garden

The Botanical Garden will be having its annual Holiday Train Show, which starts this Saturday. The garden is easily accessible via the Harlem Line, very close to, you guessed it, Botanical Garden station. The show will run until January 9th. Train and holiday related events will be happening throughout that run – from gingerbread houses to Thomas the Tank Engine visits – so be sure to check the schedule.

Lionel Pop-Up Train Stores

For anybody interested in purchasing some Lionel trains for themselves or friends, Lionel has a few pop up stores in the area. Supposedly these stores will have limited edition products not sold anywhere else. You can find the stores in Manhattan and White Plains:

Lionel New York
1095 Avenue of the Americas (41st St), New York, NY [map]

Lionel at the Westchester Mall
125 Westchester Ave., White Plains, NY [map]

Holiday Events at the Westchester Italian Cultural Center

The presepio is the most popular traditional Christmas decoration in Italy, and the Westchester Italian Cultural Center, not far from Tuckahoe station, will have theirs on display for the season. Events start on November 30th with Christmas Through the Ages, and the opening of the presepio exhibit. The exhibit will continue until January 1st. For more information click here.

Mount Kisco: Tree Lighting

Not far from Mount Kisco’s train station the town will host its tree lighting ceremony, on Friday December 3rd at 6PM. Cookies and cocoa will be served, and for the young ones there will be visits with Santa Claus afterward.
104 Main Street, Mount Kisco: [map]

Brewster: Tree Lighting & Putnam Chorale Holiday Concert

Christmas events in Brewster will commence at 4:30 on December 4th at the Southeast Museum, down the street from the train station. A holiday ornament-making workshop will be held for children, followed by caroling and the village’s tree lighting.
For more information about that click here.

Afterward, the Putnam Chorale and Brass Quintet will be performing a holiday concert, which is a free event. The show will be held at the United Methodist Church, which again is not far from Brewster station. The concert starts at 7:30 PM.
For more information, go here.

Great Westchester Toy & Train Show

In time for Christmas gift-giving is the largest toy/train show in the northeast – and within easy walking distance from White Plains station. The show will be held on December 12th at the Westchester County Center, from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM.
For more information and a coupon for a dollar off admission, click here.

Annual IRideTheHarlemLine.com Holiday Card

Did I mention I hate cards too? They’re so impersonal sometimes, just grabbing something at Hallmark and running off. I’d much rather somebody draw me a picture, even if it is shitty. And every holiday that is exactly what I do, though I do hope you don’t think my drawing is shitty. Be sure to find me on the train and I’ll be happy to give you one of this year’s card (which is much better than last years). If I don’t see you or you don’t live in the area, you are welcome to email me your mailing address and I will send you one through the mail. (It will even have a Conductor Dog stamp on it!)

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Halloween at the Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum

Back when I had planned my Fall Roadtrip I had intended to include a visit to the Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum. Unfortunately with the crappy weather some things had to be cancelled… and I had decided seeing some of the old Harlem stations, like Copake Falls and Millerton, were more important to me. I did finally end up making the visit to the museum though, instead for their Halloween train ride. The train cars were decorated for Halloween, there was candy, cider and cookies available, and each passenger also got a pumpkin. Here are some photos from the journey… including the stations in Lenox and Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

  
 
  
   
 
   
  
   
  
 
 
 
 

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The Transit Museum’s Bus Festival is this Sunday

 
   
 
Photos from last year’s Bus Festival

Although the Transit Museum in Brooklyn is known for its collection of subway cars, it also has quite a collection of historical buses as well. Every year the museum has a Bus Festival to show off that collection, in conjunction with the Atlantic Antic, Brooklyn’s largest street fair. Admission to the event is completely free to see the buses and the museum. The festival runs from 10 AM until 6 PM this Sunday. I won’t be attending this year, but last year’s festival was really great and I highly recommend it!

For more information, check out the Museum’s Calendar page.

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Lots of photos from Danbury Railway Day

Saturday’s Danbury Railway Day was a great event, and had perfect weather… hopefully you were all able to make it! I know I saw a few people I knew there :D I spent the day taking far too many pictures (and possibly getting in the way of Eric’s photos), and hanging out at the members picnic that was held afterward (for which I made railroad cupcakes).

I’m a member of both the Danbury museum, and the Transit Museum in the city… and spending a day at the museum in Danbury you get to see how different these two places are. Unlike the Transit Museum, where employees are on the MTA’s payroll, everyone at the museum in Danbury is a volunteer. They don’t have nearly the funds of what the Transit Museum has, but they make up for it with their tenacity and sheer devotion. Some of those volunteers spend their every weekend, if not more, working there – restoring the old trains in the railyard, or even giving talks on Wednesday evenings.

I know I am so bad at processing photos (which is why I still have Japan and Canada photos I haven’t posted yet), and I am so anal about it. It takes me just about forever. But I worked hard Sunday to get all of these ready. Out of the hundreds of photos I took on Saturday, I narrowed it down to around 40 of the best… I did take some video as well, but that will have to be for another day! If you didn’t get the chance to make it to Danbury Railway Day, the museum is still open during normal hours, and is a great place to visit.


















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Coney Island Nostalgia Ride

After spending a day riding trains on Saturday, I have unfortunately come to the conclusion that my mother never wants to ride the subway again. My mom was born in Brooklyn, grew up in Queens, but when she was in high school her family moved to Connecticut. Despite all that, she never had been on the subway until later on in life. I’m sure most subway riders dislike the crazy folk that occasionally share the ride with them, but by now are used to it. My mother, on the other hand, is not used to it. The ride began normally… until a beggar boarded the train. At the start I was unsure as to whether the beggar was male or female… but I did notice a rather odd shaped stomach. After a few moments I realized that it was a woman, and that she was wearing no bra. Her breasts sagged to waist level, and under a rather baggy shirt it gave her the appearance of a really messed up stomach. As she began to sing religious songs and praise god, the subway rider reflex kicked in: everyone in the vicinity pretended to be asleep. Except for one man, who shouted, “Nobody give her money! She’s going to use it to buy drugs!” And then the fights began…

A white trashy looking lady gets on the train, and instead of walking in, just stands in front of the door, blocking it. Aman behind her keeps saying “excuse me” to try and get her to move, so he can also board the train. She does not, and he drops the f-bomb. Between the two, words begin to fly, as she shouts “You messed with the wrong girl, punk!” I was totally on the side of the man, until he started going batshit, screaming about the “white devil” and how the lady should go “lick a pussy.” As the woman’s stop neared she attempted to convince the man to exit the train with her, so she could fight him on the platform, which he did not do. But what he did do was to team up with the aforementioned braless beggar, singing religious songs, and harassing the man who said she was going to use any money given to her to buy drugs. “You don’t know me! Go back to Africa!” she shouted, as she exited the train.

Soon after that my mother and I arrive at the Transit Museum, and wait to board our Nostalgia Train heading for Coney Island. It was a great trip (though it did feel as though a particular person was missing, if you’re still out there…), and had significantly less crazy people, though there were a few. Railfans are an… interesting bunch. The old man who on the previous nostalgia ride grabbed another man by the neck and told him he’d kill him was back, this time announcing the stations we passed and repeating “pretty, pretty, pretty” over and over again. But other than that, it was another grand adventure riding the old trains, and taking photos. Everyone had the option to either stay on the train for photo opportunities, or to go off and explore Coney Island. Many people chose the explore part, several of which I saw waiting in line for the Wonder Wheel (and one apparently vomited his guts out while on the Wonder Wheel).

Anyways, that is enough overly-verbose babble from me, what you really wanted to see I am sure are the photos…
















I’m not sure when the next Nostalgia Ride with the Transit Museum will be, but they are always very enjoyable, and I highly recommend going on one if you get the chance.

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Arts for Transit: Departures and Arrivals

Well I suppose I am a little late in posting these pictures… but that is the problem with me, I take so many damn photographs I am late with posting up all of them. Plus my shoulder still hurts quite a bit, so by the time I get home from work after using the computer all day, the last thing I want to be doing is messing around on my own computer. I guarantee you that a big part of it is probably poor posture and sitting hours at a time in front of the computer making silly websites. I’m trying to catch up though, I swear. I still have train-related Japan and Canada photos I’d love to post, timetables to scan (I purchased a new scanner for this!), plus photos from the Transit Museum’s newest exhibit, highlighting the Arts for Transit works around the MTA network.

In addition to the exhibit, there were also a couple tours through the museum to see some of the Arts for Transit works. A few weeks ago I went on one of those tours, we went to see Departures and Arrivals, by artist Ben Snead, in Jay Street-Borough Hall station. The tour ended with a trip to Ben’s studio, where we got to see some of his previous work, and the things he is currently working on.

Departures and Arrivals is a glass mosaic, based on original paintings by Snead (these paintings are actually at the Transit Museum for the exhibit). Snead’s work often pictures insects, reptiles and fish, and with this mosaic that theme carries through. On the tour Snead discussed why he chose the various animals displayed on the wall, and perfect for a train station where people come and go every day, the underlying theme is the migration of these animals. All of those displayed in mosaic form – sparrow, lion fish, koi, parakeet – are all animals not native to the city, they were introduced by people, or migrated on their own. The beetle, which is screened onto the larger white tiles, is a species native to this area – though it is disappearing due to humans encroaching on its habitat.

Mosaics always amaze me, as I figure they aren’t the easiest thing to create, and rather labor intensive. Although Snead created the initial design, it was from his paintings that the mosaic was fabricated by Franz Mayer of Munich. Snead mentioned that there was a bit of color shifting from his original designs, but it came out very well. If you look closely the piece is not entirely created from many small tiles, there are some larger pieces of glass used for feathers, and for beaks. This was partially done to save money, I remember hearing during the tour, but I don’t see it as hurting the piece, I rather like the effect.








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