For the most part my New Haven Line tour has thus far focused on quite a few barely-stations on both the Danbury and Waterbury branches. Today we’re going to look at what may be the leader on the barely-there stations, Merritt 7. I figured now would be a good time to take a look at the station, as it has recently been in the news and is slated to get a five-million-dollar upgrade. The low level platform will become a high-level with pedestrian bridge, and the 88-car parking lot will be enlarged. Hopefully a new station sign will also be included – one that looks like the signs at every other Metro-North station (the only other exception I am familiar with is Suffern, which barely counts. The hundred-plus other Metro-North stations all have them).
Merritt 7’s name derives from the Merritt 7 Corporate Park which the station is adjacent to. Merritt obviously refers to the Merritt Parkway, and the 7 from Connecticut’s Route 7. The corporate park houses well-known companies such as Kodak, GE, Siemens, and Canon. The station was built in 1985, partially to service the corporate park, but also to serve the citizens in the northern part of Norwalk. Unlike Norwalk’s other stations which are on the New Haven main line, Merritt 7 is part of the Danbury Branch. The station is located 45 miles from Grand Central, and travel time takes on average one hour and fifteen minutes.
As of right now, this is what Merritt 7 looks like. Not much to write home about. Perhaps once the station is rebuilt, I’ll have to go and take another look.
Ah, Waterbury… also known as the Brass City, or most affectionately the “Dirty Water.” Yes, Waterbury and I have a history, we go way back. Many years ago I attended UConn’s Waterbury Branch, and it was there I acquired my first job as a slave to the computer. From there I just went downhill, into the realm of phone line computer technical support (“my ethernet cord has a virus!”), and fixing college students’ virus-riddled computers after they downloaded copious amounts of pornography. But back then at Waterbury I was just a lowly computer monitor, though I would occasionally get called on various errands. One of those errands was to head down to the library and check out a computer that wouldn’t start. Now the campus was right in the middle of the city of Waterbury, and we’d frequently have crazy people just walk right in. Apparently one of them decided to walk right into the library and cannibalize the inside of one of their computers. It was no wonder why their computer didn’t start – anything easily accessible after whoever it was managed to get the case open was taken. There was no memory, they even managed to get the hard drive. I’m not completely crazy for telling this story – because I sort of hear the parking lot at the Metro-North station is pretty similar. If a random stranger off the streets of Waterbury had no qualms about stealing the innards of a computer where the librarian was right around the corner, they really will think nothing of theiving your car, especially when they know you’re on a train heading in the opposite direction. Apparently the situation has gotten bad enough for commuters to say they are boycotting Waterbury station. Plus, I haven’t seen a station as full of these signs as Waterbury:
I’ll try to not insult Waterbury too much (every time I go there I see another store has gone out of business!), but instead bring up an observation. Even if you’ve never actually been to Waterbury, even if you’ve just driven through, there are probably two landmarks that you are familiar with. The first is the big cross up on the hill, the mostly-abandoned (for the most part, except for brave urban explorers, and lawbreakers) Holy Land. The most iconic landmark in Waterbury, however, is the clock tower. Amusingly, most people don’t even realize the clock tower is part of what used to be Waterbury’s railroad station. The tower itself was a late addition, after construction on the structure had already commenced. Waterbury’s tower is modeled after Italy’s Torre del Mangia, and was designed by architecture powerhouse McKim, Mead and White. Today the building serves as the home of the Waterbury Republican-American newspaper, a wonderful example of iconic rail architecture being repurposed and given a second life (I’m not going to go too in depth here, as I’m hoping to arrange a tour of the place and devote an entire future post to the old station itself).
Alongside the old building is Metro-North’s small Waterbury station, which is, as you could well deduce, the terminus of the New Haven Line’s Waterbury Branch. At 87.5 miles from Grand Central, Waterbury is the furthest Metro-North station from the city (excluding the west of Hudson service). Although there are at least ten tracks by the station, few of those are actually used – a reminder of Waterbury’s status as a once-busy rail hub (in its heyday, Waterbury Union Station would receive more than 50 passenger trains per day). Today on a normal weekday the station has just eight trains departing for Grand Central, running approximately every three hours.
Of all the places I’ve been on this little tour of the Harlem Line, it is funny that I have not yet featured the one station I spend the majority of my time at. As of the first of this month, I have been living in and commuting from Goldens Bridge for two years (I’ve been commuting regularly on the Harlem Line slightly longer, though from Brewster station). Besides some of my crazy neighbors, it is a fairly nice area, albeit a little quiet.
Goldens Bridge station in the 1920’s
Over the years that the railroad has been servicing the area, much has changed in Goldens Bridge, and it was probably not as quiet as it now feels. In the early 1900’s the Muscoot Reservoir was created, flooding areas in the town that people had formerly lived. Some of these people had their entire houses moved to other locations. The construction of Interstate 684 in the late 1960’s also changed the landscape of the hamlet significantly, and the two dangerous grade crossings that were in the town have been removed. The station building that was in Goldens Bridge was on the east side of the track, roughly located where the southbound entrance to the Interstate now is.
A train at Goldens Bridge
The busy station of yesteryear is a stark contrast to what the station is now. It was from Goldens Bridge that the Mahopac branch diverged from the main line, a once-popular service which was discontinued in 1959. The station had a turntable as well as a water tower -northbound steam trains would take on water here and be set until they reached Millerton. By 1902 the New York Central had two tracks all the way up to Goldens Bridge until 1909 when the line was two-tracked up to Brewster.
For all the changes the area has gone through over the years, it does slightly amuse me that the current station is sandwiched between the concrete and asphalt of the highway on the east side, and a little bit of wilderness surrounding the reservoir to the west (if you’re interested about visiting that little bit of wilderness, I’ve posted about it before). But it is that Interstate that brings many people to the station, the parking lot is always filled with commuters from New York and Connecticut… and plenty of folks for me to people-watch…
Not counting Grand Central, the Harlem Line has 37 different stations. Some of them, like Harlem-125th Street, and Fordham, are shared with other lines, but I still count them in that number. So far, I’ve been to 32 of those stations. The inevitable fact of the matter is that although there are a lot of interesting stations – located in nice areas, have historical station buildings, or have some sort of art – not every station is going to be incredibly intriguing. As I post these photos today, I seem to think this is the case with Southeast. The most interesting thing about the station is the yard nearby, but even that isn’t tremendously interesting, and there are better train watching spots on the line.
The station of Brewster North was built in the early 80’s by Metro-North, and has been the final stop on the Harlem’s electrified line. If you’re not lucky enough to be on an express train, it is here you’ll need to swap to a shuttle train for the rest of your journey to the Upper Harlem. Due to confusion with commuters, and a request by the town of Southeast, Brewster North was renamed Southeast in 2003. Southeast is one of the more busy stations on the Harlem Line, and gets commuters from all over the area, including Connecticut.
One of the reasons Southeast is so popular is due to the large parking lot, which can fit more than a thousand cars. This is how I’ve come to know Southeast – growing up my family would always cross the border into New York and take the train to the city, usually from Brewster. But Brewster’s parking lot isn’t the largest, and if it were a weekday we’d always go over to Southeast where there was more parking available. My dad still calls it Brewster North, and I don’t even try correcting him anymore… I know he’ll never remember!
…and I guarantee you if he were to see those pictures, he would ask me, where the heck is Southeast??
Dear all passengers: I love seeing your feet. I couldn’t even work on my Japanese adventure photos, I had to stop and take pictures of your feet, so everyone can see how wonderful they are! The woman on my train last night really took the cake. Feet way up in the air on the back of the train seat all the way up to Mount Kisco. Not long after I snapped the photo, she took her feet down and put her boots back on in order to leave the train. When she stood up, she just looked like the picture in my mind of a stereotypical Westchester woman. She appears all prissy… she’s the kind of woman that would easily spend two hundred and fifty dollars on boots without a second thought. Except when on the train, those boots just won’t do. They need to come off!
The following lady didn’t really show me her feet. But she fuckin’ loves Metro-North, so she wore her happy socks, and put them up on the seat so everyone can see:
The following picture is old, and I’ve posted it before. But when I think about showing your bare feet on the train, this is what I think in my mind:
In other news, quite a while ago I found this blog called You Parked Like a Jackass. There is a high likelihood that at some point in your life you’ve seen someone park like a jackass. Horribly crooked, taking up two spots, or three, or (the horror!) four! People submit photos of horribly parked cars in lots, and you can even print out “Jackass cards” to leave on the windshield of those cars.
Many mornings in Goldens Bridge I see a van that really parks like a jackass. Well, I can’t really say that they park. Whoever is driving goes to the station, assumedly to wait for someone getting off the train. Instead of waiting in line at the entrance like most cars, the driver attempts to park. Horribly. If you are not handicapped, you are a real asshole to park in a handicapped spot. But a true asshole takes up multiple handicapped spots. What if there really was a handicapped person that needed the spot? Most days there are several other spots available when this person is around. But still, I just have to wonder why someone feels it necessary to diagonally park over two handicapped spots and a place you aren’t supposed to park. Mind you this is not an isolated incident. Note the snow in the picture on the left. This happens all the time.
Just add that to the list of people that probably abuse handicapped spots at the station. Kinda like the guy that is late for the train, parks in the closest handicapped spot, and runs like hell to catch that train that is pulling into the station.
I left work a bit early today as I wasn’t feeling too spectacular, and on my way out of the station I noticed a bunch of cardboard boxes littering the ground…
Boxes? Are there good things inside?
Apparently Goldens Bridge has spiffy new machines for the folks that park in the metered section of the lot.
I figured that I would take a few photos of the new machines. But then some guy walked up to me and started laughing at me. Then he pulled out his camera and also started taking photos. Oh well, that is about all the noteworthy stories to come out of Goldens Bridge for the past month or so. The only thing that could possibly be more noteworthy than that is if they actually washed the windows. Am I the only one that finds it annoying when somebody writes “Wash Me” in the dust of a dirty window? Except instead of writing “Wash Me” they draw the one thing that everybody on the planet Earth, irrelevant of their artistic skill, knows how to draw: a crude cock and balls. Sometimes I do think that those people that are supposed to be washing the stations are sleeping on the job…
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.