By now you are probably aware that I finally finished my three-year-long project to photograph every Metro-North station – all one hundred and twenty three of them. For my “final” Tuesday Tour post, I thought it would be nice to post a map which links to the photographic tours of every station. Though I’ve tried my hand at doing some Harlem Line maps in the past (they were crappy) and made an acceptable stab at a map of the West of Hudson Lines, I never really attempted a system-wide map. I’m not the biggest fan of Metro-North’s maps, especially how they deal with multi-line stations like Fordham (admittedly, it is not a bad map when you compare it to this atrocious Metro-North publication!), so I wanted to do something drastically different.
I guess when I say drastically different, I mean cleaner, hopefully easier to read, and showing info that the official map does not contain. One addition was Metro-North’s extra services, namely game/special event trains. Including them explains visually how Metro-North’s main lines connect, something most railfans probably know, but the average rider may not. The official map doesn’t properly illustrate that the Harlem and New Haven Lines run side by side up to Woodlawn, that they can both head onto the Hudson Line for Yankees games, or that the New Haven Line can diverge and follow Amtrak’s path into Penn Station and Secaucus for football games. Other additional info I included are limited-service stations, and shared stations. A handful of Metro-North’s stations also have Amtrak service, and in the case of New Haven station, Amtrak and Shore Line East service.
In all, my map is more of a “diagram” than anything. Some geography has been compromised a little bit for easier viewing and aesthetics. But every station name and dot links directly to its respective Tuesday Tour full of photos and history, so it is certainly an interesting way to see the system as a whole. Since the map is large, it will open in a new window. Click the preview image below to launch the map!
2012 has been an interesting year here at I Ride the Harlem Line… we finished up touring the stations on the New Haven, Port Jervis, Pascack Valley, and Hudson lines, as well as visited some places far outside Metro-North’s territory. As if that wasn’t enough, we also began our Grand Central 100 for 100 Project, posting one image every day for 100 days, all to celebrate Grand Central Terminal’s centennial.
As is customary around the end of the year, let’s take a look back at what was most popular on the site this year, based on the number of reads… presenting the top 15 posts of 2012:
Starting off our countdown at number 15 is a photographic look at the old Milwaukee Road Depot in Minneapolis. Completed in 1899, the old station was renovated and turned into a hotel. An old train shed now offers an ice skating rink. This is one of a few posts on the blog about Minneapolis this year, from my visit there in April. Some of the other stuff from Minneapolis included the Stone Arch Bridge, a former railroad bridge converted to pedestrian use, riding around on the Hiawatha Line, the old and new Minnehaha Station, and the classical music playing Lake Street – Midtown station.
14th most viewed for the year is our Hudson Line tour to Yonkers. The nicely restored brick station at Yonkers, built by the New York Central, is definitely one of the gems of the Hudson Line.
There are plenty of hoaxes and tall tales related to Grand Central Terminal, but only one of them made our top fifteen list this year. Coming in at number 13 is the 1929 hoax in the Information Booth. As the story goes, a tricky scammer convinced a fruit seller that the railroad was planning on selling space in the information booth, and that prime space could be turned into a fruit stand. Of course, it was a complete lie, and the scammer skipped town with a nice wad of cash. Amusingly, you can buy apple in the Terminal today – either in Grand Central Market, or in the figurative sense, the Apple store in the main concourse.
Another Grand Central themed post comes in at number 12 on our countdown – featuring the sky ceiling that nobody really knows about. This painting can be found inside Grande Harvest Wines – it is the last surviving remnant of the 242-seat newsreel theater that was once in Grand Central Terminal.
Our tour of New Haven Line station Mamaroneck makes the list at number 11. Mamaroneck has a lovely old station that was undergoing a transformation into a restaurant called the Club Car – we managed to get a sneak preview of the place, and shared it along with the station tour.
The Hudson Line tour of Tarrytown station also makes the list, likely for our coverage of the new and most wonderful Arts for Transit piece by Holly Sears. The 1898 Richardsonian Romanesque-style station at Tarrytown was built by architectural firm Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge, who are most known for their stations on the Boston and Albany railroad.
Ninth most popular for the year was my first foray into 3D modeling, and 3D printing. I decided I would try to model the Harlem Line’s Brewster station from historical photos – basically how it looked when it was first built. The interesting journey was featured in various places around the internet, including the TinkerCad Blog, Shapeways Blog, Adafruit and Wired.
One of the more memorable things I got to do this year was to have a brief chat with Metro-North Railroad President Howard Permut. Having been with Metro-North since its inception, the man has a pretty interesting viewpoint regarding the history of the Harlem Line. We talked about Metro-North’s formation from ConRail, Millerton, and other admirable rail systems, among other things.
Before touring the Port Jervis and Pascack Valley lines, I wrote a brief introduction to the West of Hudson lines, which was the seventh most viewed post on the site this year. The intro included a few maps, time tables, and a look back on the damage Hurricane Irene wrought on the Port Jervis line.
Sixth on our top 15 countdown is a trip to Metro-North’s Operations Control Center. This is the workplace for the railroad’s Rail Traffic Controllers – one of the most stressful and possibly thankless jobs at Metro-North. The current OCC is certainly high tech, but we also got a glimpse of the old OCC, and an ad for one of the New York Central’s historical towers in Grand Central – which looked quite archaic in comparison!
One of the most memorable shots of Hurricane Sandy was this capture of a boat resting on the Hudson Line’s tracks in Ossining, which I couldn’t help but turn into an image macro. In other news, whoever happens to own that boat is probably a big asshole, as it seems to be named after a Nazi warship. I guess the owner never realized his boat would end up on the front page of several newspapers – or top 5 in our countdown.
Fourth most popular for the year was our April Fool’s prank about Harlem Line service getting restored up to Millerton, complete with two fake timetables and a fake ticket. Rumor has it, some folks in Metro-North’s customer service department hate me even more than they did before after this trick!
Coming in at third most popular is the Grand Central 100 for 100 project, featuring 100 historical photos of the Terminal in the hundred days leading up to its centennial. By now we’re more than halfway through, so if you aren’t following the project on Facebook, you totally should be!
It appears that everybody loves Dobbs Ferry station, as our tour was the number two most read post on the site for 2012. Featuring another Richardsonian Romanesque station by Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge, Dobbs Ferry also has a nice location right on the Hudson River’s waterfront.
Everybody seems to say that the cat is the internet’s unofficial mascot, and it certainly seems that is true! By far, the number one most read post on the site was about Sadie the Subway Cat, of the New York Transit Museum. In addition to our March photo session with the popular feline, we updated you on Sadie’s subsequent retirement, and a humorous update on her new life outside the museum.
That just about wraps up 2012 – I’m definitely looking forward to bringing you new things in 2013… everybody have a Happy New Year!
I’ve been joking around recently that the next time someone asks me why I like the Harlem Division/Line, I am going to answer that “I am a girl, and I like the color blue.” Because clearly female railfans choose their favorites based upon color! If that were the truth, then my second favorite line would have to be the Pascack Valley, as the color for that line is purple. Much to my chagrin, none of Metro-North’s printed timetables for the line are actually printed in purple (so I had to make a fake one – which is below). New Jersey Transit, however, does print timetables for the Pascack Valley line, and they are purple! Since we’re now touring the Pascack Valley line (and I not-so-secretly love old railroad timetables), I figured it would be appropriate to check out some of the printed materials that have been used over the years.
A few of the older timetables you’ll notice use the name New Jersey and New York Railroad, which was used up until the Erie-Lackawanna merger. You’ll notice that the one EL timetable I’m posting from 1969 does actually use the name Pascack Valley. Most of the timetables I have for show are more current, from both the New Jersey Transit and Metro-North. I’m sorry to have to say it, but the NJT timetables are quite a bit nicer, and actually purple. Metro-North has always been all about trying to cram as much junk onto the front of their timetables as possible… which is not necessarily the most aesthetically pleasing. The newest east-of-Hudson timetables have a horrible and cheap-looking drop shadow, at least the west-of-Hudson timetable missed out on that crappy treatment!
Can’t we just go back in time to the late 1800’s or early 1900’s when timetables were beautiful and actually looked like this?
New Jersey Transit’s timetables for the Pascack Valley line feature the color purple, and a pine tree, both of which represent the line. Although Metro-North also uses the color purple to represent the line, they do not make use of the pine tree image.
Metro-North does not print a separate timetable for the Pascack Valley line – it is combined with the Port Jervis Line and colored orange. I wanted a purple Pascack Valley timetable though, so I faked it!
Welcome to the Pascack Valley Line – our tour here will be done in nearly the blink of an eye… Only three stations on the line are in New York State and considered part of Metro-North – Spring Valley, Nanuet, and Pearl River. The line is named after the Pascack Valley, an area in New Jersey that encompasses the Pascack Brook. On New Jersey Transit timetables, the line is represented by a pine tree and the color purple. Metro-North only uses the color purple to represent the line, though the station signs on all three platforms look more blue than purple.
Erie K-1 Pacific running commuter service in Spring Valley, 1953.
By now, I’ve been to a total of 104 Metro-North stations. I can’t recall too many where I seriously felt a bit afraid for my life, but for some reason Spring Valley was one of them. Maybe I’m used to high-level platforms, third rail, lots of fences, and the tracks generally being off-limits. I saw too many people here walking along the tracks, popping out of the woods and crossing over the rails. I was entirely convinced that one was going to come over, whack me over the head, steal my camera, and then disappear back into the trees. As I am still alive and writing, and am still in possession of my camera, this obviously didn’t happen – but there is just something about Spring Valley that made me feel uneasy.
While many west-of-Hudson stations are practically dead on the weekends, Spring Valley (and perhaps Pearl River) seem to be the exceptions to that rule. In Spring Valley’s case, the area near the station serves also as a bus terminal. The station building is also home to a cafe – Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill. For those taking the train, Spring Valley is approximately 31 miles from Hoboken, a journey ranging from 50-80 minutes depending on the train. That is about it for this quick visit to Spring Valley, next week we’ll be moving on to Nanuet!
For the past two years, just about every Tuesday we’ve explored a new Metro-North station. For the most part, these have been stations that you may have heard of before, but perhaps never visited. Most regular commuters are familiar with the three main Metro-North lines that terminate in Grand Central: the Harlem Line, the New Haven Line, and the Hudson Line. However, Metro-North owns the stations and funds the operation for two other lines, on the west of the Hudson River. It is there that we will now point our attention, starting with the Port Jervis Line.
Though us commuters on the east side of the Hudson don’t purposely try to forget our fellows over on the west, it is at times easy to ignore them. One pretty big reason is that their trains don’t run into Grand Central. Another reason is that the service is operated by New Jersey Transit. Although the stations are owned by Metro-North, and the railcars usually say Metro-North on the outside, the conductor you give your ticket to is a NJ Transit employee (and you probably bought that ticket from a NJ Transit TVM). The lines may end in New York state, but they begin in New Jersey.
However, one event in the past year has unfortunately brought news of the west-of-Hudson lines to the forefront. Last August’s impending Hurricane Irene led to an unprecedented shutdown of the entire MTA system, and although this helped significantly in mitigating damages, there were some places where it was unavoidable. After the storm had passed and the damage was surveyed, Metro-North was likely the worst hit, compared with the other MTA agencies. Although there was flooding at stations along the Harlem and Hudson Lines, it was the Port Jervis that bore the brunt of the storm’s fury. Service on the line was suspended indefinitely as washouts completely destroyed the track in some places, and entire parking lots were flooded. Photos of the damage became front page news – the Port Jervis Line had our attention – but for all the wrong reasons.
Aside from all that, the Port Jervis Line isn’t that bad a place. It is some of the most rural country on all of Metro-North’s territory, and riding a train through it all can be quite beautiful. My favorite part of the line, the Moodna Viaduct, I featured on the site several months ago. Most of the stations really aren’t much to write home about, but there are several former stations – like Middletown, and Port Jervis – which I also plan on showing you all.
Before we begin the tour next Tuesday with Suffern, I thought it would be good to mention a little bit of back story regarding the line. As I mentioned previously, none of the current stations (with perhaps the exception of Tuxedo) are really noteworthy – part of this is because the route the Port Jervis line now follows was not the original route for passengers. The original Erie main-line diverted west just after Harriman, and passed through Monroe, Chester, and Goshen, before meeting back up with what is the current line just after Middletown.
The route the trains now follow was called the Graham Line, and was used mostly for freight. Instead of having to maintain two sets of tracks in roughly the same geographical area, a portion of the main line was abandoned in favor of the better-maintained Graham Line. This also meant abandoning several historical passenger stations (like the beautiful Erie depot in Middletown, now a library), and building new, relatively utilitarian, facilities on the former freight line. And instead of running right through the center of several towns, trains run on a more circuitous route outside of heavily populated areas.
Since I have all of the Port Jervis stations photographed, I thought it might be nice to actually travel the line in order, starting with Suffern (which is really more of a New Jersey Transit station, though in New York state). Look for the Tuesday Tour of the Port Jervis Line, starting next week.