Tuesday Tour of the Hudson Line: University Heights

Today’s Hudson Line tour takes us back to the Bronx for a quick visit to University Heights station. Located just less than 9 miles from Grand Central, the station is situated between Morris Heights and Marble Hill stations. The station is named after the section of the Bronx in which it is located – a name that dates back to 1894 when New York University built its Bronx campus here. Though the university is now called the Bronx Community College, after having been sold in 1973, the name University Heights stuck. The attractive campus is just a short walk away from the station.


Local timetables for the West Bronx, which includes University Heights.

The station at University Heights consists of a small island platform, accessible via a stairwell or an elevator on West Fordham Road. A ticket vending machine is located here at street level. Similar to Morris Heights, University Heights is sandwiched between the Harlem River and the Major Deegan Expressway. Unfortunately, the river view is not quite as great as the one near Morris Heights. From the platform you can see the University Heights bridge, which crosses over the Harlem River, and the waterfront space is taken up by a few industrial looking facilities. Though hardly one of the most interesting stations on the Hudson Line, it is at least worth mentioning that at one point in time University Heights was a joint station shared with the Putnam Division, at least until that line was shut down in 1958.

That is about all I have for University Heights, so without further ado, on to the photos…

 
  
 
 
   
 
   
 
  
 
  
 
  

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Tuesday Tour of the Hudson Line: Ardsley-on-Hudson


Two early Metro-North Hudson Line timetables, and a local New York Central timetable listing the station as Ardsley – just to confuse you.

Today’s tour of the Hudson Line takes us just about 22 miles north of Grand Central to Ardsley-on-Hudson station, a place of a bit of confusion. Ardsley-on-Hudson, located in Irvington, should not be confused with actual village of Ardsley, which is located a few miles east and had its own station on the long-gone Putnam Division. As you can see above, many Ardsley-on-Hudson timetables were printed with just “Ardsley” which doesn’t really help much with the confusion. Thankfully, Metro-North has been fairly consistent with printing the full “Ardsley-on-Hudson” on station signs and in timetables for the past few years.


Above: 1896 drawing of the Ardsley Casino clubhouse. Below: 1899 photo of the clubhouse grounds, and a postcard showing the yacht landing, train station, and clubhouse. The aesthetic of the train station matches the buildings for the Casino. Postcard from the collection of Steve Swirsky.

In regards to the train station, the name Ardsley derives from the Ardsley Casino, which opened at this location in 1896. The “on-Hudson” portion was tacked on because of its geographic location on the river, and to differentiate it from the village of Ardsley. To confuse you more, the Casino wasn’t a casino, but more of a club for the rich to play golf. While the Casino built a dock for their rich members to sail up to in their yachts, not all of the membership was quite as fortunate to own one – thus a train station was constructed. The train station building mirrored the Tudor revival architecture style of the Casino’s nearby clubhouse. The two buildings stood in close proximity until 1936 when the clubhouse was torn down. As the only surviving remnant of the club that once stood here, the station building does look a little bit out of place aesthetically, and has a unique look compared to other Hudson Line stations.

Though the Ardsley Casino no longer exists, the more informal Ardsley Country Club, can be named as its sucessor. The Casino merged with the nearby Racquet and Swimming Club in 1935, shortly before the old clubhouse was torn down and took that name.


Pedestrian bridge that connected the Hudson House apartments to the train station, which was destroyed in 2010. Photo by John Reidy.
 
Aerial views of Ardsley-on-Hudson. The one on the left is from 2004, the one on the right from 2010, shortly after the pedestrian bridge was destroyed. Note the differences in the station itself – the station was upgraded in the time between both photos.

After the Casino was torn down, it was replaced with the Hudson House Apartments. At one time there was a pedestrian bridge that connected the apartments directly to the train station. Unfortunately, the bridge was destroyed in 2010 when a sanitation driver crashed his dump truck into it. The historical bridge was never rebuilt.

 
Construction at Ardsley-on-Hudson station in 2005 and 2006. Photos by Henry C.

CSX at Ardsley-on-Hudson. Photo by Michael Foley.

Though the original station building still exists, it is not used for any railroad functions. It is now the home of the Ardsley-on-Hudson post office, and contains rows of post office boxes. The original fireplaces built in the station are still there, but not used. You may not be able to buy your ticket here, but there still is a small area that one could probably use to wait for a train, and some bathrooms.

Like many of Metro-North’s Hudson Line stations, Ardsley-on-Hudson underwent considerable improvements in the past few years. Ardsley-on-Hudson had its turn in 2005 and 2006, when a new overpass was built, as well as new platforms. Canopies were added to much of the platform to protect riders from the elements, which are visible in the aerial shot above. Ticket Vending Machines were installed in the new overpass.

All in all, Ardsley-on-Hudson is a pretty nice station. It has a bit of history, and being right on the Hudson River always looks nice. From the station you can see the Tappan Zee Bridge to the north, and just barely make out the George Washington Bridge in the far south on a clear day. If you ever find yourself on the Hudson Line, Ardsley-on-Hudson would always be an interesting station to check out!

 
   
 
   
  
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
  
 
  
 

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Tuesday Tour of the Putnam Division: Millwood


Postcard of Millwood, and the final passenger service timetable on the Putnam Division. Timetable from the collection of Otto Vondrak.


Frank Schlegel photograph of Millwood station

Yes, I suppose this is a bit of a joke. I’m not really doing a tour of the Putnam Division, although I have been to a few of the stations. We must, however, pay our final respects to Millwood, which was one of the few remaining Put stations. Was being the keyword there. On Wednesday morning, Millwood station was demolished, just days after I posted that a demolition permit was applied for. Truly sad.

On Friday I visited the spot where Millwood once stood. I thought in my head I’d at least see some sort of hint that there was something there. Some material strewn all over the ground, a hole or overturned dirt, anything. But there was nothing. It was torn down and covered up too well. I suppose this is why we must photograph everything – you never know when something will just suddenly disappear.


Millwood, I will always remember the words that someone scrawled on one of your outside walls.

In other news, your real Tuesday Tour, of Otisville on the Port Jervis Line, will be posted later on today!

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The trains don’t stop here any more – save me, I’m your history.

Hidden away in a nearly-forgotten corner of my computer’s almost-full hard drive are a few photos that were never meant to see the light of day. They were dark, and the day was rainy, and they were downright horrible. But a bit of graffiti scrawled on the side of the station that I remembered photographing always sat in the back of my mind. It read, “The trains don’t stop here any more. Save me, I’m your history.” A news article that was sent to me today (thanks, Jeff!) led me to dig out those photos.

The station on which the graffiti was written is Millwood – once part of the long-gone Putnam Division. Hardly in spectacular condition (but certainly not the worst), the status of the building has been in limbo for quite a while. Again the station finds itself in the news, as a demolition permit has been applied for. Though tearing down this historical building would be sad, I find it laughable that the article mentions a proposal for making a replica of the station. Why not save the real thing, while it is still here?

 

“Save me, I’m your history.” An apt observation. I wonder who wrote it…

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From train station to library: Briarcliff Manor


Briarcliff Manor station in the early 1900’s

Of the many old train stations I’ve featured on the site over the years, too many of them have been converted into other things and are no longer have anything to do with railroads. This is especially so when the railroad line the station served has been completely ripped out. It is somewhat bittersweet – as it is sad the railroad is gone, but yet wonderful that someone has taken the time to ensure that the historical building still exists. Too much of our old architecture has been torn down and long forgotten.

The old Putnam Division station at Briarcliff Manor is one example of a building that has been preserved and repurposed. And it is great to see that it has been converted into something as noble as a library (and not a Starbucks, of all things!). A library just seems so appropriate for an old station – it is our temple of knowledge, our archive of history and the written word – housed in a historical landmark, a vestige of a defunct and at times forgotten railroad.

Architect’s elevation of the front of the library. The original portion of the building is shown uncolored.


The Briarcliff Manor Public Library as it is today. The right portion in the photo is the original 1909 station, the left is an addition completed in 2009.

The Briarcliff Manor station was originally built in 1909 by the founder of the village, Walter Law. In the late 1950’s passenger service on the Putnam Division ceased, and the town raised the 12,500 dollars to purchase the building. Additional money was raised for cosmetic work, and to convert the building from a station into a library. The building, however, was not a large one, and it eventually became too small to appropriately house the library’s collection. After years of planning and debate, it was ultimately decided to add on to the original structure. Construction on the addition began in 2007, and was completed in 2009. The interior of the older portion of the building still requires work, but will become a reference area, and most appropriately, a local history section.


Construction about to begin at Briarcliff Manor, 2007 [image credit]


Construction of the addition to Briarcliff Manor, June 2008 [image credit]

 
  
 
 
   


Joe Schiavone, known as the “Old Put Guy,” gives a talk at Briarcliff Manor. The former rail line is slightly visible, located in between the fence and the road. It has been converted to a rail trail.

Schiavone has written three books about the Putnam Division. You can support the Danbury Railway Museum by purchasing the two most recent from their gift shop.

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Tuesday Tour of the Harlem Line: Brewster

There is always a little part of me that considers Brewster my home station. It was from here that I took my first Metro-North train. I even ran away from home once – I managed to get to Brewster and hopped on a train. When I first started my job out of college I made the 25-mile trek from my parents’ house in Connecticut over to Brewster every morning and evening. I always loved the little station building, and remember it prior to the renovations made for the added cafe. At that time the ticket window was moved to the other side of the room, where it still is currently. Though many ticket windows have closed, the one in Brewster remains.

Historically Brewster was always an important part of the Harlem Valley. The New York and Putnam Railroad (later, the Putnam Division) met with the Harlem at Brewster (Putnam Junction). There was once a turntable and roundhouse where steam engines could be serviced, but was removed when that technology became obsolete. The Brewster Standard, a local newspaper, even called Brewster “the hub of the Harlem Valley.” The name of the station derives from Walter Brewster, who owned the farmland the original station was built on, and many early maps refer to the stop as “Brewster’s.” Gail Borden had a condensed milk factory in the town (in addition to the one also on the Harlem in Wassaic) and on your way to the station you’ll probably pass over the Borden Bridge, where his condensed milk crossed and headed out to the Union troops in the Civil War.

Today Brewster is still an important station, and gets many passengers from across the state lines. Despite the usage it remains a small station and the platform can only accommodate four train cars. The old station building houses a small cafe called “The Dining Car” and a ticket window. Despite having been to Brewster a million times, I had never photographed it until July. I visited on a scorching-hot Saturday in July when the sky was a beautiful blue…









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