Grand Central Terminal isn’t the only building that lights up for the holidays… the old New York Central Building is another gem to behold. When I featured that building on the site – designed by Grand Central architects Warren and Wetmore – I mentioned the lights, but didn’t include any photos. Constructed to be the corporate offices of the New York Central Railroad in 1929, the railroad sold the building in the 1950s and has gone through several name changes since.
However you want to call it – the old New York Central Building, the Helmsley Building, or 230 Park – it looks gorgeous at night. While Grand Central’s light show ends tomorrow, the lights here are year round. Similar to the lights on the Empire State Building, the show can change colors for various holidays or other events. Over 700 individual lights were added to the building, and lighting designer Al Borden was hired to create a night time lighting scheme for the building. As the building is designated as a landmark, none of the lighting was permitted to “compromise the building’s architectural integrity.” Thus all light sources had to remain hidden, and none could be drilled into the building’s surface.
Of course, one can not pass up the opportunity to take more photos of Grand Central’s light show and exterior on an abnormally warm winter evening…
I figured I’d wrap up this post with a look at this year’s holiday card for those that didn’t receive it. The front features Mount Kisco station, and the unique station mileage sign that graces the building on the track side. The sign lists the original length of the Harlem Division – from Grand Central to Chatham in Columbia County. Astute viewers will note that the station view is visible through the window of an M8, which on a few days this year were actually in revenue service on the Harlem Line.
If you’re into relatively inane holidays, have I got a card for you! This 1951 advertisement for the New York Central was just dying to be made into a card for Valentine’s Day.
Obviously, the above is photoshopped, but for veracity’s sake, below you’ll find the original advertisement – which is not at all for Valentine’s Day. The main concept it depicts is traveling in between the “heart” of cities, as the railroad does. With the mention of no “stormy skies” the ad seems to reference commercial air travel – to which the railroads were steadily losing passengers. While most railroad stations are more towards the center of the city (especially the case with Grand Central in New York), many airports are far outside it. Unfortunately, most people would rather take a short flight than a long train ride, even if they had a nice amenities, accommodations, and food on a train.
Happy holidays to all our readers, and a very Merry Christmas for those who celebrate it! For those that are into history, be sure to check out this post of holiday Harlem Line timetables, and this groovy Penn Central holiday suburban schedule. Penn Central may be despised by many, but they certainly put out some interesting timetables.
Despite the holiday, today is of course Tuesday, and our final Hudson Line Tuesday tour will be posted, though likely later on this afternoon.
Despite the fact that I managed to send out the holiday card to quite a few people, there were some that I would have liked to give it to that I never managed to get it to. About half are mailed out to friends, readers and fans, while the other half are hand-delivered to various train riders and Metro-North employees. If you didn’t get the card this year, consider it virtually sent… and email me your address and I will make it a point to get out out to you next year!
This year’s holiday card is inspired by a 1943 New York Central ad
I was going to photoshop Santa getting patted down by the TSA for this – then I realized I didn’t have to, it had already happened for real. Needless to say, the TSA is why trains, and not planes (forget about those reindeer!), are the preferred method of transportation for Santa Claus this Christmas.
Metro-North President Howard Permut was the railroad’s Vice President of Planning before landing his current gig… so he’s got a pretty good sense of where and how things ought to be improved. Not only is he eyeing the New Haven Line for big improvements, but he’s also looking at service West of the Hudson. On his wish list is a second track on the Port Jervis Line, and a connection to Stewart Airport.
Improvements at Cortlandt to be finished soon
The train station upgrades at Cortlandt, which included new parking and amenities, are almost done – though slightly behind schedule.
Transit-based development considered in Mount Vernon
This week the city of Mount Vernon released a new comprehensive plan with suggestions for improvement. Suggestions included expanding Bee Line Bus service in the city, and further developing the areas surrounding the Mount Vernon East and West stations.
Progressive Railroader has an interesting piece on thoughts for passenger rail in 2012, with thoughts on various transit systems across the country, including Metro-North.
A Look to Tappan Zee From Hastings, painting by Kent Patterson
Retired Metro-North employee, now artist, to have show in Briarcliff Manor
Kent Patterson worked for Metro-North for 37 years as a yard and train master, but in retirement has turned back to an old love – painting. Prominent in his work are the trains and scenery he worked with for so many years. His paintings will be on display in Briarcliff Manor, and are certainly worth checking out.
Photos from Santacon
Buzzfeed has an amusing collection of 22 photos from NYC’s Santacon, which was last weekend. And of course since it was in New York City, some mode of public transportation is involved. Who knew that Santa rode Metro-North?
If you didn’t get this year’s holiday card in the mail, here it is! Conductor Dog wishes you a very happy holiday and new year… and would love it if you happen to have any treats. He is eagerly awaiting his debut as Metro North’s mascot, with an appearance in Mileposts. Hey, a dog can dream, right?
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!)
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.