A new local timetable – Mount Vernon, 1906

A few weeks ago, I posted about local timetables on the Harlem Line, and focused on some of the “unofficial” timetables that were also printed by neighborhood businesses. Today I’m posting a short addendum to that, as I’ve recently acquired another little timecard. Printed by the Mount Vernon Trust Company, the timecard features fire alarm signals for the city on the front and back, and train schedules on the inside. Schedules for the New York, New Haven, and Hartford station (today’s Mount Vernon East) are on the left side, and the Harlem Railroad’s station (today’s Mount Vernon West) on the right.

Local Timetable

Similar to many companies featured on local timetables, the Mount Vernon Trust Company no longer exists today, at least in name. Arguably, one could say that it does still exist today, after a long string of mergers over the years. In 1952 the Mount Vernon Trust Company was merged into the County Trust Company, which itself was later merged with into the State Bank of New York. That entity was merged into the Irving Trust Company, which then became the Bank of New York in 1989. In 2007 that bank merged with the Mellon Financial Corporation, becoming BNY Mellon. Don’t you just love banks?

I still think that these little timecards were really an ingenious idea for businesses back in the day, and this one really exemplifies the concept. The previously posted Pawling timecard featured so many ads that it was almost unwieldy. But this card, just a few inches long, was perfect to always carry around. Not only did you have easy access to the train times for both railroads running through town, you certainly wouldn’t forget that the bank was open from 8 AM to 4 PM.

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Local Timetables on the Harlem – 1890 to today

Every time I go to grab a snack at home, I find myself staring at an advertisement. And I’m not talking about the packaging of the food itself – my roommate has hung a calendar from our local pharmacy on the inside of the cabinet. You probably have one of these somewhere in your home – whether it be from the local Chinese restaurant, hardware store, bank, or doctor’s office. Businesses ingratiating themselves among their customers by providing them with a useful item (with a little advertisement for themselves, of course) is hardly a new concept – in fact it has been in practice for well over a hundred years. While today fridge magnets and calendars are commonplace, historically it wasn’t unheard of for a business to print useful cards with train schedules. What better way to remain at the forefront of your customers’ mind than to have your ad on a card they carry around everywhere?

Unofficial timecards are fairly easy to pick out – they bear no official railroad logo or marking – and generally have a whole lot of ads. They also use the railroad’s original name – the New York and Harlem – which was a name everybody knew, as opposed to calling it the Harlem Division, as the railroad did by this time.

Train timecard from Pawling Train timecard from Pawling
Train timecard from Pawling, 1892. A bifold card, the outside features advertisements for numerous businesses. In featuring only weekday trains, the card is tailored to the businessman that would likely patronize the featured establishments. For those looking for Sunday trains, the card advises to consult an official timetable “of the road.”

Another Harlem timecard
Timecard from 1890, featuring selected stops along the Harlem, all the way up to Chatham. Also a bifold, this card is likely more successful than the unwieldy one above, as it would easily fit into your pocket.

Although I wouldn’t classify it as an advertisement like above, the Woodlawn Cemetery also printed their own small time cards. You’ll note a great comparison below – an official railroad-printed Woodlawn time card, along with one printed by the cemetery itself. Besides the address and phone numbers of the cemetery, the card also contains an edited list of train times – corresponding with the cemetery’s hours – of course!

Timecards from Woodlawn
Timecards from Woodlawn. The 1891 card at left is official and printed by the railroad. The 1892 card at right was printed by the Woodlawn Cemetery.

Eventually, local timetables did become standardized – printed by the railroad, but still containing advertisements. Below is a nice collection of some local timetables throughout the years. Make sure you note an important portion of the design – the top of every New York Central local timetable is labeled as “official.” By the time the Penn Central came into being, this disclaimer was dropped. Also in the mix is a more current version of Metro-North’s local timetable. The new design still contains advertisements, but they’ve been relegated to the inside.

The current local timetable style

The current local timetable style

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Weekly News Roundup, 1/8

A quick news roundup for the week…

Idiots park running SUV on railroad tracks

A stupid couple started off the new year right by leaving their SUV on the railroad tracks just west of Fairfield station. As expected, alcohol played a part in the driver’s complete lack of judgement.

Branchville’s Whistle Stop Bakery

The Connecticut Post had a nice little interview with Lolly Turner, the woman that converted the old, “beat-up” and “falling apart” Branchville station into a successful bakery.

“We’ve taken a piece of history and turned it into a viable business. I think it’s a wonderful thing we’ve done.”

Schumer seeks to restore commuter tax benefit

It is always good to know that Schumer actually fights for something worthwhile every now and again.

The MTA’s App Contest

Hopefully I am not the only one that finds a little bit of amusement in the fact that the MTA is holding an “app contest” for useful transit-related smartphone apps. You know, since back in the day the MTA claimed that train schedules were their own intellectual property, and sent their lawyers after app developers. But it is true – the MTA is holding a contest, and the New York Times had a nice article about it this week.

Commuters get discount at local grocery store

If you commute in the Brewster/Southeast area and need to pick up a few things on the way home, you should definitely check out DeCicco’s, as they offer a 5% discount for Metro-North riders with monthly passes. I believe it applies only to the store in Southeast, right up the road from the station.

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Who’s driving this thing?! What you need to know for Thanksgiving:

Thankfully, Metro-North’s engineers are far from turkeys… they’ll get you where you need to go, without the hassle of traffic.

Hopefully my readers out there are licking their chops in anticipation of a big turkey dinner tomorrow and not calling the Butterball Turkey Hotline to inquire as to the proper method to carve a turkey by chainsaw, or if thawing your turkey with your children in the bathtub is a no-no… If you’re not looking forward to getting stuck in the holiday traffic, there’s always the train…

Metro North’s holiday service begins today at 1PM with a early getaway trains, early service for tomorrow morning for anyone looking to get to the parade, and of course, extra service on Black Friday. All fares will be off-peak. Make sure to have your ticket in advance, no tickets will be sold on board on trains leaving Grand Central on Thanksgiving Day (and no bicycles either!).

Be sure to check out the page on Metro North’s website about Thanksgiving Holiday Service, and enjoy your holiday!

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Holidays on the Harlem Line, Thanksgiving Schedules

The holiday season is fast approaching, and many interesting holiday themed events will be happening along the Harlem Line. The Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train Show opens tomorrow, which is accessible via Metro-North’s Botanical Garden station. Grand Central’s Holiday Gift Fair, located in Vanderbilt hall, opens on Monday. Starting on Wednesday the Transit Museum’s Annex in Grand Central will host their Holiday Train Show (please note that this will be closed on Thanksgiving). And of course, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will be held on Thursday. Of course, Metro-North has come up with some new holiday schedules, including additional trains, to help you get to these events.

Thanksgiving Metro-North Schedules

Thanksgiving Eve 11/25 extra early getaway trains will be offered, beginning at 1 PM. Because of decreased ridership in the PM peak, some trains will be combined or eliminated.

Thanksgiving Day 11/26
Operating on a holiday schedule with extra AM inbound service for those of you going to the Macy’s Parade. There will also be lots of late morning/early afternoon outbound service, and plenty of inbound evening service to get you back home.

Day after Thanksgiving 11/27
operating on a “Saturday” schedule with extra service during the AM and PM peak time periods.

For the most up to date schedule information, consult the schedule search on Metro-North’s website. Information for the Harlem Line’s Wassaic branch can be found here.

Regarding events, I’m trying to come up with a nice schedule of all varieties of events accessible by the Harlem Line. These events will be listed on the right side of the site. If you know of an event that I should mention, please contact me!

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Grand Central trains leave a minute “late”…

So on Friday the New York Times posted an article (which I believe was in the print version Saturday) talking about how Metro North trains leave Grand Central one minute late. There is an extra minute built into the schedule, so if a train is supposed to leave Grand Central at 5:59 on the public schedule, the conductor schedule actually reads 6:00. It may have actually been a helpful thing, but now that everyone knows? Probably not so much.

The article is getting posted on various different websites, but in the process they’ve lost the picture that was posted with the original article. In fact I do believe this is my favorite part of the article, this little running man.

Run little man, run!

That, and some of the comments…

Basically, you are destroying a helpful deception in order to make points for yourself as a journalist. SHAME ON YOU!

Now that the word is out, my husband and countless others will be missing more trains. Thanks alot, you just ruined my family’s dinner!

Do you have any idea what you have done!!! Shame on you. Just to score a few “journalistic” points.

This is like those placebo buttons at pedestrian crosswalks and in elevators that give us the illusion of control. Fun to know.

And my personal favorite:

Woo Hoo. What a scoop!! The train people were trying to do their customers a favor and the Times decides to blow their cover.

Next you’ll announce to all six year olds that there’s no Santa Claus.

Why is this on the front page of the New YorkTimes? I thought it was “All the News That’s Fit to Print,” not “All the News That Fits We’ll Print.”

I guess now you can at least take your time walking to your train in Grand Central (note that this extra minute only applies to trains leaving Grand Central)… I mean the last place you want to trip and fall (and hit your head and die) is on a dirty train platform, running to catch your train that was going to be there an extra minute anyways.

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Change of the season…

When I started out this blog, it was sort of just a portion of my own personal website. It had the same layout as my site, and was fairly integrated. I have been thinking for quite a while now though, this blog has really taken off in another direction, and is pretty much standing well on it’s own. So I felt that in order to reflect that new identity, the site needed a little bit of change in the aesthetics department. Enjoy the new layout that I’ve made, which I’ll probably be tweaking for a little while now that it is up. I’m not much of an illustrator, but I did want to try doing a little sketch for the title, with the Sky Ceiling in Grand Central in the background.

So what else is changing? Next week brings new schedules to the MTA, and conductors will be changing around their jobs… so you may see some new faces on your trains. I’m quite bummed that all the conductors on my train all got bumped off and had to take jobs on other trains.

Conductor winter wear will also make it’s comeback… though my proposed new hat for MTA conductors was denied.

If you do like changes though, especially changes in the leaves, you must check out the Fall Foliage Rail Excursion, over on the Hudson Line, which will be happening on the 24th. You can find more information about that tour here.

Lastly, if you missed October’s Mileposts, you may have missed some nice deals. When buying tickets for Cirque Du Soleil’s Wintuk, and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, you can save ten dollars, and get a free round trip train ticket. Just be sure to use the promo code METRO.

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