Metro-North’s newest Arts for Transit – a revisit to the Hudson Line

I think it is fairly well established that I love the Arts for Transit program, and pretty much any transit-related art in general. My three-year-long jaunt to every single Metro-North station was not only a great way to become familiar with our rail system, but to also become familiar with the art found within many of the stations. The Hudson Line has some of the newest and most attractive pieces out of the Arts for Transit program, including two stations that never made it into my Tuesday Tours. Both Croton-Harmon and Peekskill got some art in the latter half of 2012, after both stations had been featured on the site. Both are rather attractive designs, and I figured it would be worth visiting the Hudson yet again to check them out.

Some of Arts for Transit’s most successful installations are those that almost transcend the barrier between art and function, and those that interact with the space in which they are placed. While bronze sculptures hanging on the wall are certainly a lovely (though easily missed) addition to any station, the bronze chairs you’ll find at Pleasantville station become even more than that. They are attractive, but also functional, they interact with the people that use the station, and they begin a dialogue. People that spy them from the train might say, “what are those nice looking chairs, and why are they there?” And as the artists intended, they evoke the comforts and feelings of home, and the thought that to many regular commuters this station is their second home. When comparing Arts for Transit pieces, Pleasantville always seems to be the bar to which I compare, and is (at least in my opinion) one of the best embodiments of the program’s concept of enhancing the experience of travel.

In a similar vein to the Pleasantville piece, both of the newest Arts for Transit works on the Hudson Line seem to interact with the stations in which they’ve been placed, and thus the people that frequent them. Croton-Harmon’s artwork, a series of laminated glass panels by Brooklyn-based artist Corinne Ulmann, not only depict the changing of seasons, but seem to change on their own based upon the light that filters into the overpass. Several Hudson Line stations feature both faceted and laminated glass works in the overpasses, and I’ve always felt they’ve been successful as they’re never the same at all times. As sunlight passes through, colors are reflected onto the platforms and walkways and move as the sun crosses the sky. Thus the art is hardly static, it subtly changes due to season, time, and weather.

Metro North President Howard Permut at Peekskill station
Metro North President Howard Permut speaks at Peekskill, with the station’s newest Arts for Transit piece in the background. [image credit]

Peekskill’s art, an installation of various painted steel pieces by Joy Taylor, also interacts with the station, and the sunlight. The large pieces cast shadows on the platform, but also highlight a play between new and old at the station. During Peekskill’s recent renovations, the station’s historical canopy was restored. This canopy runs parallel to the more modern one found on the station’s other platform, but both evoke a different feeling. The historical canopy is rounded, where the new is more angular, with squared edges. But with the artistic flourishes added to the modern canopy (the historical canopy was appropriately left without embellishments), the new canopy visually parallels the old. Not only does it create an interesting play between new and old, but it emphasizes the historical nature of the one canopy. That side of the platform is not bare, however. The fencing behind the old canopy carries the same flowery motif, but without compromising the part that is historical.

If you happen to get over to the Hudson Line, both pieces are certainly worth checking out, and make commuting on the Hudson Line a little bit more attractive than before.

 
 
   
  
   
 
   
  
 
  
 
  
 
  
   
  
 
  

And before I forget, Metro-North’s newest Arts for Transit will be at Fordham station on the Harlem Line. If you happen to be an artist, you still have a few days to reply to the Call for Artists. Submissions need to be postmarked by the 28th.

Read More

Tuesday Tour of the Hudson Line: Peekskill


Cropped postcard views of Peekskill station

For today’s Tuesday Tour, we venture back up to the un-electrified territory of the Hudson Line, 41 miles north of Grand Central, and make a stop at Peekskill. Many Hudson Line stations have been recently renovated, however, the process still continues at Peekskill, hopefully to be finished by this fall. As such, the station isn’t much of a looker right now. Construction vehicles surround the tracks, orange cones sit on the platforms, and a portion of the overpass is blocked off. Although a minor inconvenience for passengers right now, when the station is complete it will be well worth it. Besides the aesthetics of making the place look nice, there will be new canopies, lighting, heating, and an upgraded elevator.


Various timetables for Peekskill. Thanks to Doug Dray for the 1979 timetable, which also includes the stations of Crugers and Montrose, which have since closed.

Although in fairly poor shape today, Peekskill’s old depot, built in 1874, is still standing and in the process of being restored. The building had been occupied by a restaurant called PJ Kelleys since the early 90’s, but they finally closed their doors in December of 2009. It has been unoccupied since then, with Metro-North performing various renovations on the building. Before the true restoration could begin, asbestos and lead paint had to be removed from the old building. As of last year Metro-North was still looking for a tenant for the 7,395 square-foot building, who will likely be allowed to move in when the station is restored to its former grandeur.


Fleischmann Company factory in Peekskill, from the collection of Steve Swirsky

When Peekskill’s station was completed in the 1874, the area surrounding the depot was a bit different than it is today. Peekskill had quite a few factories, many of which made use of the nearby river and railroad. Believe it or not, Peekskill was once a major producer of yeast – or as the city boasts, “The Yeast-making Capital of the World.” The Fleischmann’s factory that produced this yeast was located along the railroad tracks, about one half mile south of Peekskill station. By 1915, the complex was comprised of over 125 buildings, and had over 2 miles of track interconnecting them. By 1977, however, the company had vacated Peekskill.


These steel sculptures by Joy Taylor is to be installed at Peekskill station later this year.

Before I wrap up Peekskill, I just wanted to offer a quick sneak-peek of one of the upcoming additions to the station. The last portion of Metro-North’s Peekskill project is to install some artwork, courtesy of the Arts for Transit program. The piece selected for the station, titled Jan Peeck’s Vine, is comprised of various steel sculptures and was designed by artist Joy Taylor. The name of the piece derives from Peekskill’s namesake, Jan Peeck. Taylor also created the mosaic piece that was installed at Larchmont station on the New Haven Line.

 
  
  
 
   
 
  
 
   
 
 
   
   
  

Read More

Last Night’s Hudson Line Delays & Pointless MTA Alerts

Whenever there are delays, MTA never really says all that much. Trains last night were delayed on the Hudson Line, due to “police activity” near Peekskill. Apparently the “police activity” was due to a man getting hit and killed by a passing Penn Station-bound Amtrak train at around 5:56 PM. The man was identified as 71-year-old Steven Paige.

Peekskill Fire Chief John Pappas, apparently a very astute man, had this to say:
“You get hit by a train, it’s never good.”
Somehow I think we were all aware of that.

Pappas goes on to say that they were not aware whether the man was a commuter, but he was not wearing a suit or tie. He was clearly not a Metro North rider, as we all know suits and ties are required for all commuters that ride the train.

You can find more information about that incident here and here.

I’m not subscribed to MTA Alerts for the Hudson Line, but anyone who is, was an alert sent out about this last night? Because this is what I imagine the alerts were made for… reporting delays in service that might be… well, important to commuters. Instead all I find that I am getting are “alerts” informing me that I can take the train to see the Yankees game. I just looked at my old text messages, of the 8 I still have in my inbox, 7 of them were related to taking the train to the game. No offense MTA, but I’d like to know about train delays… and taking trains to the game? I get bombarded with signs for it every day at the train station. I’m well aware of it… and I’m sure all of your other regular commuters, the ones that are probably signed up for these alerts, probably are as well.

A possible alternate service for commuters, Rail Bandit actually announced yesterday that they have added Metro North to their list of Rail lines. Rail Bandit has real-time service and delay alerts, in addition to schedules, all on your cell phone. I’ve not used it, but Rail Bandit looks like it could be quite useful for people in the New York area, as there are also live updates for the Long Island Rail Road, PATH, New Jersey Transit, and other railroads across the country.

Read More