Tuesday Tour of the New Haven Line: Darien

Welcome to Darien, a lovely Connecticut town filled with famous people, aspiring politicians, and people that make a whole lot more money than I do. In fact, Darien is considered part of Connecticut’s “Gold Coast” – a moniker I had not even heard of prior to today. Along with other railroad towns I’ve featured – like New Canaan and Greenwich – Darien is certainly one of the more wealthy destinations along the New Haven Line. The story is still the same – the railroad enabled people to move out of the city and establish suburban communities in Westchester and southern Connecticut. But really, who wouldn’t want to be able to work in the city during the week, and hang out at the yacht club on the weekend?


Postcard view of Darien

Darien station is one of two stations in the town of Darien, the other being Noroton Heights, which is one stop to the west. The station is slightly less than 38 miles from the city, and it takes you just under an hour to get to Grand Central. Stamford, on the other hand, is a short, approximately five mile, jaunt that takes a bit less than ten minutes.

The historic station building that still stands was built at some point in the 1800’s, and was restored in 2002. As with other stations we’ve seen on the line, building plans were often reused as a cost cutting measure. Darien’s station bears a strong resemblance to Westport, and is practically a twin to Southport‘s west-bound station


Photo of Darien from the lovely TylerCityStation

It was at Darien that I think I realized the true nature of my terrorist photographer tendencies. Metro North published a nice little “System Safety / Security Pocket Guide” for employees. Inside it lists various suspicious behaviors that should be reported straight away. One of which says, “Taking photos in areas of little interest to the public.” I don’t know about you, but I am not sure if light fixtures are of real interest to the public. In fact, I think I took more photos of light fixtures than I did of the 100+ year old Darien station. Thankfully it wasn’t a hot day – sweating is another suspicious behavior.

Below you will find all of the suspicious photos I snapped at Darien – which is the second-to-last station to be featured on our tour of the New Haven Line. Next Tuesday will be our final station stop – Stamford.

  
  
 
   
  
   
  
 
   
 

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Tuesday Tour of the New Haven Line: Noroton Heights


Noroton Heights, circa 1920. Image is from a postcard that was for sale on eBay, labeled as Norton Heights.

Today’s station visit on our tour of the New Haven Line may deserve the title of “Most frequently misspelled Metro-North station,” which certainly made researching it for today fun. Noroton Heights – or as some would believe, Norton Heights – has even been spelled wrong on a map published by Metro-North. However you spell it, we’re talking today about the place in Connecticut, the one that has the railroad station (a Norton Heights does actually exist in CT, it is in Wolcott). Located about 36 miles from Grand Central, Noroton Heights is on the New Haven main line, and is one of two train stations in the town of Darien.


Noroton Heights, 1946


Noroton Heights, date unknown. [image source]

Although the historic photos of Noroton Heights above are pretty awesome, none of them depict the placement of the station how it is today. When high-level platforms were being constructed along the line (in the early 70’s), the Noroton Heights station was shifted about two tenths of a mile east. Unfortunately, I was not aware of this at the time, so I missed seeing the old Noroton Heights depot, which is still around and is being used as a youth center. When the building’s life as a railroad station ended, it was transformed to serve the population of Darien in alternate methods. In 1972 it became the home of Darien EMS Post 53, and served as their headquarters for 16 years. After Post 53 relocated to a new building across the street, the old depot was set to be demolished. Fortunately, it was saved from that fate when the youth center acquired it in 1989.


The newer, high-level platform at Noroton Heights, 1980. [image source]

The station building that is there today isn’t particularly noteworthy, though it does have the typical amenities one would expect on a main line station – a canopy and shelter, a walkway to cross the tracks, and a few ticket vending machines.

 
  
   
   
  
 
  
  
 
  
 

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Tuesday Tour of the New Haven Line: Rowayton


Twilight on the Sound, Darien – Painting by artist John Frederick Kensett.

Welcome to Rowayton – a delightful neighborhood of Norwalk (full of people with salaries significantly higher than mine), located right along the coastline of Long Island Sound. The New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad ran through this area for many years, but a station was only established in Rowayton in February of 1868. According to popular lore the station was built at the urging of several prominent artists that worked in the area. Vincent Colyer and John Frederick Kensett worked out of a studio located on Contentment Island – although a part of Darien, the new Rowayton station was less than a mile away.


The eastbound station at Rowayton, photograph from 1916. [image credit]


Another shot of the eastbound station, taken in 1931. By this time the railroad had been electrified, and the catenary system is visible in the background. [image credit]

 

Thanks to Flickr user caboose_radio, we have a whole bunch of historical photos of Rowayton station. The eastbound station pictured at the very top was built in 1896, and was removed in 1955. After that time a new station was built, and this is the station building that still exists at Rowayton today… though it doesn’t look nearly as charming.


The current station building at Rowayton. Photo was taken in 1967. [image credit]

The major difference between Rowayton in the historical photos above, and what the station looks like today are the platforms – the former low-level platforms have been replaced with high-level versions. Located on these platform are a few newspaper, and ticket vending machines. The New York-bound side has a canopy, while the opposite side has only a small shelter area. Rowayton is about 39 miles from Grand Central, and the average trip to the city takes about an hour.

That is about all I have for Rowayton today. There are only ten more stations left to visit on the New Haven Line, which means by mid-March the tour will be all wrapped up – and it will be onto the Port Jervis Line.

 
   
 
   
 
  
 
   
 
 

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Weekly News Roundup, 12/23


Here’s this week’s news, on this incredibly grey and rainy day.

Connecticut to get quiet car trial

When Metro-North started doing trials for their “Quiet CALMute” quiet car program, it only included the Harlem and Hudson Lines. Starting January 9th, however, quiet cars will be appearing on the New Haven Line. The Connecticut Commuter Council’s Jim Cameron blogged about it, and to my amusement said, “treat passengers like adults and they’ll act that way.” I would very much like to ride Jim Cameron’s train, where all the passengers act like adults. You know, where people don’t hide in the bathroom to evade fare and don’t get into fistfights with the conductor because they don’t want to pay.

Many people support the quiet car program, though I still have some reservations about how it will work on a larger scale. I’m curious to hear how it works out when quiet cars are added to some “real” trains. As I’ve mentioned before, the Wassaic trains where quiet cars were added are normally quiet. The people have to wake up early, have long commute times, and often catch up on sleep (oh, and they commute more in a day than Cameron does in a week). On my local, however, we have a delightful business man that dresses in a suit and tie, boards at Mount Kisco and hides in the bathroom until Chappaqua. Then he comes out and shows his Chappaqua monthly, a scheme that saves him $49 a month. He’s not one of the incredibly obnoxious and rude passengers on the train, but it is unfortunate for the real adults that board at Mount Kisco and actually pay the full fare.

Train in Connecticut searched for murder suspect

Connecticut has had some wacky stories this week… from Jesus on a bus, a turkey loose in a tire shop, to a man that defecated in a bank parking lot prior to robbing it. Some Metro-North riders were involved in a situation far less amusing when armed police boarded their train in Darien looking for a man suspected of murdering two. Or maybe a different man that killed someone else. Everybody’s confused, but they were looking for somebody!

Route 120 bridge opens – finally

The Route 120 bridge over the railroad tracks and adjacent to Chappaqua station has opened. Finally. Every morning during my commute, I watched the slow construction on this bridge, and it is nice to see it finished. It contains a walkway and a set of stairs for easy access to the Chappaqua train station.

“Club Car” coming to Mamaroneck

The old Mamaroneck train station is still being renovated, but when it reopens it will be housing the Club Car Restaurant and Lounge.


Renovations in progress at Mamaroneck

MTA approves budget for 2012

The 2012 budget has been approved by the MTA board this week.

Happy Holidays!

To get you into the “holiday spirit” TrainJotting has posted their amusing Twas the Night Before Christmas parody again this year.

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Additional Ticket Offices to Close

Two days ago I posted a link to a story on LoHud.com saying that three Metro-North ticket offices would be closing on January 13: Larchmont, Harrison, and Fleetwood. Unfortunately LoHud reports this morning that the number of closures has jumped to seven. The closures are as follows:
Hudson Line: Ossining
Harlem Line: Fleetwood, Hartsdale, Chappaqua
New Haven Line: Larchmont, Harrison, Darien

That brings down the number of stations ticket offices on the Harlem Line down to eight (not counting Grand Central). As far as I am aware, Harlem Line ticket offices in Brewster, North White Plains, White Plains, Scarsdale, Bronxville, Mount Vernon West, Fordham, and Harlem 125th will remain open. But of course this could change as Metro-North looks to cut costs. Apparently none of the employees of the ticket offices will be laid off, just relocated to alternate positions with the railroad. Supposedly this cut will save $1.1 million in 2010.

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