Do you love old train photos as much as I do? It has been a while since I last posted some Monday Morning old photos… but I do plan on posting a few for the next couple of weeks. In my endless endeavor to acquire old photos of the Harlem Line, I’ve borrowed and digitized more old photos from Lou Grogan. These are slightly newer than previous photos I’ve posted: at least I was alive when they were captured, albeit a young child. But they are old enough to capture the old platform at Pawling, and construction at White Plains. Though the dates probably vary, my guess is that they are either very late 80’s, or early 90’s – a time when Metro-North Commuter Railroad was a fledgling organization.
I love this one: self portrait of the photographer, at White Plains.
If you missed any of our series of Monday Morning old photos, you can find them here:
Ever since we shifted the clocks for Daylight Savings Time, I’ve had difficulties waking up in the morning. Instead of my usual train reading, I’ve been doing more train sleeping. And of course, coming back from the weekend, that is the hardest part. But if I had some good things to look forward to on a Monday morning, well, maybe that would make it a bit easier – like a good collection of historical photos from the Harlem Line. Here is part 3 of our Monday Morning old photos… as previously mentioned, these are all images that I’ve acquired from various places, often by purchase online, or have been sent to me by other people. I’m not sure of who the photographers are, and it is pretty much a mixed bag of year and location. But I do think some of you have enjoyed the challenge of attempting to figure out where the photos were taken. Anyways, enjoy the pictures, I’m going to try and do these posts as many Mondays as I can, or at least until I exhaust my collection of old photos.
As promised, here are some more old Harlem Division photos to start off your week. There are some photos in this bunch that I really like, including a shot at the old State Hospital station, which along with the Wingdale station, was removed and replaced by Harlem Valley-Wingdale.
If you liked these old photos, be sure to check out Part 1 from last Monday, and this collection of photos from the 80’s. More old photos are definitely on the way….
Have a case of the Mondays? Need something to cheer you up on this crappy weather day? Hopefully some old Harlem Division photos will do the trick. People are always selling old slides and photos on eBay, and I have a little bit of a collection. I don’t always know the location (though they are on the Harlem Division), date, or even the photographer, but I love looking back at the trains of yesteryear – and even the old cars in some of the photos. The next few Mondays I’ll be posting my collection of old eBay-acquired photos… enjoy a little look into the past on the Harlem Division.
I’m not exactly sure why, but I have a strange affinity for the village of Chatham. Although it is an adorable place, rather quaint, I wonder what exactly it was like when the railroads ran through here. You might see a freight train, or a passing Lake Shore Limited, but none of them stop. Chatham once serviced the New York & Harlem Railroad, the Boston & Albany, and the Rutland – all of which are long gone. And thus the place is a little bit of a curiosity to me. The many suburbs along the Harlem – Bronxville, Hartsdale, Scarsdale, and even the ones further north, Katonah, Brewster – they were all influenced by the rail. They grew and morphed into the places we know now, and though the rail does not entirely define those places now, the rail still is there, playing a part in the futures of those areas. But Chatham, it is a special case. The single most defining factor of the village has disappeared. It is no longer the terminus of any railroads. The once busy Union Station no longer serves train riders, it is a bank. Chatham has reverted to a quieter version of itself, representing a little portion of historical Columbia County.
Many places across the country have seen transformations, with the things they were built upon playing a part in their downfall. Detroit was built on the auto industry, but as the industry migrated and moved overseas, parts of the city have become abandoned – a true example of urban decay. The small town of Centralia, Pennsylvania was built upon anthracite coal, literally and figuratively. Ironically, it was the coal brought the death sentence of the little town, as it caught fire in the 1960’s and has been burning ever since. There is something about these changed places that intrigues me (high on my list of places to visit is also Pripyat, an abandoned town brought down by the failings of humans). All of these, of course, are radical examples. Chatham lives, it does not decay. Perhaps the once-fundamental core of its being is gone, but it still thrives. But just as one can compare the photos of Detroit’s urban decay with the historical photos of yesteryear, one can bear witness to the radical changes made in just a few scant years (or slightly longer than the years I’ve been on this Earth). There are no more signal towers, water towers, or turntables. The children of Chatham will never board a passenger train in their village to head the one hundred and twenty seven miles to Grand Central. And of course, the Harlem division will never again run this far north.
The time for Chatham as a railroad town has passed. As the time has ticked by it has reinvented itself, and is still reinventing itself. It is not the decline as a railroad hub that has intrigued me about Chatham, but that reinvention. It is a charming and beautiful little village, with a gazebo, clock tower, shops, and restaurants – plus a whole lot of history. The photos below were taken back in October upon my second visit to Chatham, a visit where I actually had time to shop and eat, and enjoy the surrounding history. Perhaps if you too find Chatham to be interesting you will take the time to visit some day…
The photos below were sent in by reader John. They were taken in the late 1960’s at Chatham.
For an even further back look, the Library of Congress has an illustrated map view of the village of Chatham from 1886. At this time the “Union Station” had not been built, and the Boston & Albany, and the New York & Harlem each had their own rail stations. For easier viewing I’ve given the B&A station a slight red tint, and the Harlem a blue tint.
Hi everybody… I hope you’re doing well, because I am pretty loopy on cold medicine right about now. I figured I’d post a few pictures from my busy Saturday before I took yet another nap. On Saturday I visited and took photos at two former railroad stations, took a tour to see Bannerman Castle, and also went to the Walkway Over the Hudson. I also got sick in Fishkill, but I don’t think anyone wanted to see photos of that.
Anyways, here are some photos, and historical photos, of the station in LaGrange, NY. It was once part of the Newburgh, Dutchess and Connecticut Railroad, but the tracks were removed a long time ago. It is amusing to me that there are many towns in New York (and other states) that have roads named for the railroad, even though in many of those places the railroad is gone. In this former station’s case, it sits on Depot Lane… and from the outside that may be the only clue as to what this building was once used for.
The building has been beautifully restored, and the inside still has the old ticket window. There is also an artificial fireplace, and when the doorbell is rung it makes train sounds. If you have more money than this poor blogger, it is also for sale. It is actually owned by Lou Grogan’s brother-in-law… who I think is probably one of the funniest people I’ve ever met in my life. He did a pretty great job of having this place restored… an extant former train station in this condition is always a great find, and an even better place to take photos. :D
I’m going to go back to sleep now. Maybe that will make the room stop spinning.
Last Saturday I had the pleasure of meeting Lou Grogan, who is the author of the definitive guide to the Harlem Line and all its predecessors: The Coming of the New York and Harlem Railroad. Over the years he has acquired quite the collection of just about everything railroad related – from books, photos, timetables and newspaper clippings, to the train-shaped weather vane atop his house. Wooden trains, plastic trains, metal trains all adorn the inside of the house on shelves and tables and desks, along with many rocks, which he also collects. His wife told me he didn’t really start collecting all of the stuff until he decided he wanted to write the book (which took about ten years to complete), but once it was written he never stopped. All he’s collected fills rooms, and would probably take weeks, if not months to go through.
We did happen to find a binder of photos though, full of photos of the trains around Pawling, Brewster and Towners from the early 80’s, which he graciously allowed me to borrow. The majority of photos were not labeled, except for an occasional date mark from when the photo was developed and printed. At the end of the binder were two photos though, one of the only ones that happened to have labels. The first was a picture of a blue sleeper car in Canada, with the name Elizabeth stenciled on the outside, with a handwritten caption – “My favorite sleeping car.” Alongside that photo was a photo of his wife, with the caption of “My favorite Elizabeth” (how cute!). The majority of the other photos though, do not have captions or dates, so I am not 100% sure of the location, but they all seem to be either on the Harlem Line or in the vicinity. I’ve scanned some of my favorites, and present them here. A few of them may have been in his book (which was black and white), but this is the first time they’ve been presented in color. So take a walk down memory lane and enjoy these photos (or in my case, a glimpse of Metro-North right before I was born).
Above is a photo that I’ve found, taken either on the Harlem Line, or in the vicinity of it. It was probably taken at some point between 1982 and 1985. Is there anyone out there that can explain this to me? I’m really curious what the hell a school bus is doing on the tracks.
Edit: The general consensus seems to be that the bus was modified to do maintenance work on the tracks. I still want to know who thought this was a good idea… or at least didn’t think about how hilarious this would look to just about everybody.
When it comes to beautiful stations located on the Harlem Line, Hartsdale is definitely high on my list. Scarsdale’s station was built in 1902, and designed by Reed and Stem, in a neo-Tudor style. When Hartsdale’s station was built in 1912, architecture firm Warren & Wetmore modeled the style previously used in Scarsdale. Both station buildings still exist, and in the case of Hartsdale no longer has a ticket window. Instead, Hartsdale’s station building houses a Starbucks. Warren & Wetmore are most noted for their work on Grand Central, though they designed several other stations and buildings for the New York Central, including Yonkers, Mount Vernon West, and the New York Central building (now called the Helmsley Building). The small station formerly had a waiting and ticket room, a baggage room, and restrooms. Above the main door is a balcony with intricately carved wood, though it is fake- there is no way to access this balcony.
Just as Hartsdale and Scarsdale are a pair in architectural style, the Arts for Transit pieces that are at both stations are also a pair. Philadelphia-born artist Tom Nussbaum designed the figures at both stations, made of Cor-Ten steel and installed in 1991. Although the photo of the plaque I snapped at the station lists the name as Untitled, the Arts for Transit website refers to the piece Workers. There are twenty-one life size figures in between the station’s two tracks.
A few of the old station buildings on the Harlem have been converted to Starbucks, and I must admit I felt like a dork taking pictures of people attempting to drink their coffee. I did happen to dig up some nice pictures of the building in the eighties- pre-Starbucks, and when the ticket booth still existed.
My name is Emily, though I am known by many who ride the train simply as Cat Girl, for the hats I customarily wear during the winter time. I am a graphic designer, a former Metro North commuter and lifelong Harlem Line rider. This site is a collection of my usually train-related thoughts, observations, photographs, and travels, as well as my never-ending hunt for intriguing historical artifacts.