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: Riverside


Riverside station in 1954

In-between the stations of Cos Cob and Old Greenwich on the New Haven main line, lies the station of Riverside. A journey to Grand Central, approximately 30 miles, takes around an hour. Four tracks run through Riverside, and two platforms run alongside the two outer tracks. On those platforms you can find a few ticket vending machines, a soda machine, a couple newspaper boxes, and a bench or two. One side has a small shelter from the elements, though it looks pretty beat-up and is tagged with graffiti and strewn with trash.

Riverside station itself is not particularly noteworthy – though the bridge that carries traffic over the tracks is one of Connecticut’s historic bridges – and a little bit more interesting.


Aerial photographs of Riverside and the bridge in 1977

Various sketches of truss bridges, from the patents of bridge engineer Francis Lowthrop

The historic Riverside Avenue bridge is clearly visible to anyone taking the train from or past Riverside station. Not only does it carry traffic over the four railroad tracks, it has two stairwells and an area for pedestrians to cross over to the other side of the platform. Although this bridge was originally constructed in 1871, it did not find its current home until around 1894. Designed by Francis Lowthrop and fabricated by the Keystone Bridge Company, the current span was a portion of a larger railroad bridge over the Housatonic River in Stratford. That bridge was replaced in 1884.

Photos of Riverside and the bridge in 1984

The portion of the Riverside Avenue Bridge that was reconstructed here is smaller than original – the bridge is now 164 feet long and 22 feet wide, and about 20 feet above the tracks. Bridges similar to this one are very rare today, and the Riverside Avenue bridge is the last cast-iron bridge still in use in Connecticut. With the increasing weight of heavy locomotives, many cast-iron bridges were simply replaced due to safety issues, or modified to carry lighter cars instead of trains, which explains their rarity today. By 1986 the safety of this bridge was also being questioned, and parts were deemed unsafe. However, instead of replacing the bridge or restricting it to only pedestrians, a new bridge was built inside the historical bridge. This solution allowed the preservation of the historic bridge without compromising the safety of the drivers that cross it every day.

The Riverside Avenue bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977, and is one of roughly 55 bridges on the Register from Connecticut. It is also the oldest railroad bridge listed in Connecticut (though it only carried trains for a short period of its lifetime).


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Tuesday Tour of the New Haven Line: Greenwich

Postcard of Greenwich station

Growing up as a kid in Connecticut, probably the only thing I knew about Greenwich was that was where rich people lived. As completely illogical as it sounds, I almost expected that the train station there would have a platform paved with gold… or at least the station would be extravagantly nice. In reality, however, Greenwich is just another regular station along the New Haven main line. Located 28 miles from Grand Central, the train ride to the city ranges from a 41-minute express train, to a 57-minute off-peak local. The station building has a little waiting room with vending machines and benches, and contains a staffed ticket window, an amenity getting rarer and rarer on the Metro-North system. From inside the station building, you can descend a set of stairs and exit to the street level and the various shops of Greenwich.

Photographs of Greenwich station, taken November 1928

When I first arrived at Greenwich, I hiked up a big set of stairs at the western end of the platform. While that far end of the platform is a little beat up, the opposite end is a bit nicer, and has views of Borealis, a sculpture installed at the adjacent Greenwich Plaza.

Aerial photo of the station area, visible is the station building and platform, Greenwich Plaza and the sculpture Borealis, as well as Interstate 95 and Greenwich harbor. [image credit]

Although the sculpture is not exactly part of the station, it is definitely visible to those that commute. While photographing the station, I felt myself drawn to it. Borealis, installed in Greenwich in 1999 (though completed in 1988), is the work of artist Mark di Suvero. When installed, a crane was brought in to lift the 29-foot-tall sculpture, made of welded steel, into place. Borealis also has a sister piece, called Aurora which is on display at the National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden.


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Tuesday Tour of the New Haven Line: Cos Cob, and the Mianus River Railroad Bridge

Over the two and a half years I’ve maintained this blog, I’ve featured quite a few old railroad stations that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today is a little different, as not only do I have photos of another station that makes the list, but also of a bridge. I have mentioned Bridge L-158 before, and I’ve always thought it had a terrible name – though the Mianus River Railroad Bridge may be even worse. All you pretty much need to do is a google image search for Mianus – you’ll see plenty of fratboys (and the folks from the show Jackass) posing in front of various town signs. As much as they’d love to believe the name refers to a particular area on the body, it apparently derives from the name of a Native American chief.

Photos of the Mianus River Railroad Bridge taken in 1977 from the Library of Congress

The Mianus River Railroad Bridge (Sometimes referred to as the Cos Cob Bridge. Not to be confused with the Mianus River Bridge which carries I-95 over the river and famously collapsed in 1983) was built in 1904 by the American
Bridge Company. A previous two-track bridge existed in the same spot, but was deemed unsafe. However, not all parts of the previous bridge were dismantled, some portions were reused in the construction of the current four-track replacement bridge. Historically, this bridge was the final constructed portion of the railroad line linking New Haven and New York – completed on Christmas day, 1848.

Photos of Cos Cob station, first photograph is from 1946, and the second from 1954. Both are from the Dodd Research Center’s Railroad History Archive.

Located just west of the bridge is the Cos Cob train station. This building is also on the National Register of Historic Places, and was built around 1894. The wood-framed station is on the west-bound side of the tracks, and measures 50 feet by 20 feet. The station was constructed during a time when the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad was working on a complete overhaul of the line. Curves were straightened, tracks were elevated to remove grade crossings where possible, and two tracks additional tracks were added for a total of four. The relatively simple station design was reused for other stops along the line as a cost-saving measure – the Old Greenwich station is an extant example.

Similar to many stations I’ve featured here, the railroad played an important part in the growth of the area. Greenwich became an upper-class suburb, and its citizens could easily commute by rail into the city. Looking out the window from the train, it is highly likely you’ll spot many boats and yacht clubs – and in the few photos I took of the Mianus River Railroad Bridge it is fairly difficult to even spot the bridge as there were so many boats.

Cos Cob is roughly 30 miles to Grand Central, and during off-peak times takes about an hour to get to the city. However, some express trains during peak hours make the journey in as little as 45 minutes. The station is one of four along the New Haven Line in the town of Greenwich, and the neighborhood of Cos Cob is one of fifteen that make up the town.


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