Buy your train tickets at the Union Ticket Office, 1861

Today as a graphic designer, I have various different methods for catching your attention in an advertisement. Attractive imagery, and most importantly, color, are major ways a designer can catch your eye. But what if we’re talking about design well over a hundred years ago, when color printing and photography wasn’t around? Although using various typefaces is certainly an option, my personal favorite tactic of yesteryear is the pointing finger. You know things are serious when that finger comes out!

The Hudson River Railroad schedule above, printed in 1852, makes use of the pointer finger in a very small way – it is visible at the very bottom. But what if you really wanted to get people’s attention? You can’t make it red, so clearly it needs to be BIGGER!


Bigger. Like this. You will never forget the number 9!

 

That is a HUGE pointer finger! Guess you better remember to buy your train tickets at the Union Ticket Office, at the 9 Astor House! Note that this 1861 ad makes additional use of the finger in a smaller way – highlighting the fact that they sell tickets to all railroads, not just the Hudson River Railroad or the New York Central.

Next advertisement I design, I think I am going to stick a big pointer finger in it. We’ll see how well that goes over…


This is probably why Metro-North doesn’t want to hire me…

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Tuesday Tour of the New Haven Line: Mamaroneck


Postcard view of Mamaroneck station


Aerial view of Mamaroneck. The old station is to the left, away from the tracks and platform.

Welcome to one of the final Tuesday Tours of the New Haven Line. Our stop today is the delightful village of Mamaroneck. I had every intention of posting Mamaroneck last – I even had Darien’s tour ready to go – but I happened to get a sneak peek of the newly-restored station over the weekend, and couldn’t resist posting it right away. The station, built in 1888 in the Richardsonian Romanesque style (which, admittedly, is one of my favorites), is certainly one of the nicest (and second oldest) on the New Haven Line. However, like many old stations, the condition of the building had degraded, and it needed a lot of work. Metro-North, who owned the station, was having difficulties finding someone to lease the place in the condition it was in. Without the funds to renovate the station themselves, Metro-North instead listed the station for sale in 2007.


Drawing of Mamaroneck station, front view

Though various parties were interested in the station, it was ultimately sold in 2008 to John and Chris Verni of Verco Properties, for $1.25 million. Renovations began after a formal groundbreaking ceremony on April 22, 2010. During my first visit to Mamaroneck last September, I happened to get a few shots of the station while the restoration was in progress. It didn’t look like too much had been completed yet, but I was feeling very optimistic about this place, and knew I would return at some point.

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Tuesday Tour of the New Haven Line: Fairfield


Postcard view of Fairfield station

Welcome to Fairfield, the next stop on our tour of the New Haven Line. Although it isn’t as hip as the new Fairfield Metro station, it does have a bit of history – including an 1882 station listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Located just over 50 miles from Grand Central, a train trip to the city from Fairfield takes about an hour and fifteen minutes.

 
 

Many of today’s historical images of Fairfield station have come from a site called Tyler City Station, which is filled with information about Connecticut stations, and is quite wonderful. It is definitely worth checking out.

One of the nice things about New Haven main line stations are the configuration of the tracks. Instead of having an island platform, like a lot of Harlem Line stations, there are two platforms – one on each side of the four tracks. Because of this arrangement, there were usually two station buildings, one on the New Haven (or eastbound) side, and one on the New York (or westbound) side. While many stops along the line have only retained one of their stations, Fairfield has managed to preserve both.

 
Diagram of the tracks and station buildings at Fairfield

Fairfield’s eastbound station is the oldest of the two, a brick building constructed in 1882. The building measures 26 feet by 82 feet, and is one and a half stories in height. The inside has high ceilings and hardwood flooring. The old waiting room is used by a taxi company, and the building also contains a restaurant and cleaners.

The westbound station is constructed of wood and measures 30 feet by 90 feet. It also has hardwood flooring, and is partially occupied by a coffee shop. There is a small waiting area that once served as a ticket office, but Metro-North closed that window in 2010. The design is similar to several other stations we’ve featured, as reusing the architectural plan for multiple stations was a method of cost savings for the railroad.


Because we’re all fascinated (or at least I am) with train crash images, here is one in Fairfield.

  
Photos of Fairfield in 1988, from the application for listing the station on the National Register of Historic Places.

That is about all I have on Fairfield, and for our tour today. At the time of my visit there was some construction going on, and some tracks were out of service. You will note in several of the photos that trains were boarding from temporary wooden platforms, instead of the normal concrete side platforms, because of this construction.

 
  
 
   
  
 
  
   
 
  

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Tuesday Tour of the Harlem Line: Crestwood


Norman Rockwell’s version of Crestwood

Not many train stations can claim the honor of having been featured on the front of the Saturday Evening Post… or for that matter, having been painted by iconic American painter Norman Rockwell (Rockwell had a long association with doing covers for the Post, stretching from the 1920’s to 1970. He also lived in the area for a time). One such station that can claim that, however, is Crestwood. Crestwood can also claim that it has been featured in video, from television commercials (Tuscan milk, Optimum Online), and even a movie or two (Remember Me, 13). Yes, Twilight lovers, that means that even Robert Pattinson has been to Crestwood.


Optimum commercial filmed at Crestwood

The train station we know now as Crestwood started out under the name of Yonkers Park in the mid 1800’s. Unlike many of the other areas along the Harlem Line, the area surrounding Crestwood was not immediately built as residential. Although the Tuckahoe area, and the discovery of Tuckahoe marble, led the community to grow rapidly, the area around Crestwood was mostly occupied by quarries. It did not develop into a residential area for commuters until the first half of the 1900’s. The growth in population did get the railroad to make Crestwood a regular stop on the Harlem, and an updated station built.

The current station at Crestwood was built at some point between 1901 and 1911, the actual date unknown, as the original plans have been lost. There are, however, records of changes made to the station later on, like when the tunnels under the tracks were built in 1911. In 1928 more significant changes were made, resurfacing the outside, removing the original chimney and installing a new one, and replacing the slate roof with shingles. The original baggage room was also removed in order to enlarge the ticket office.

Crestwood is the last station that I will feature that was part of the Mid-Harlem Station Improvement project. The project consisted of updating eight train stations on the Harlem Line in the late 1980’s. Before the changes were made, each station was documented with a history and photographs, all of which are available online thanks to the Library of Congress. One of the major changes that occurred at Crestwood was the creation of a ticket window above the tracks, and the phasing out of the original station building as a ticket office. As of 1993, nothing had been done with the station, and upon my visit the station building still looked pretty dead. The newer ticket window was also quiet – it was permanently shuttered last year.

 
  
  
 
  
  
 
  
 
 

Here are a few of the historical shots of Crestwood, taken in 1988, which include a view of the inside of the old station building. All of these are from the Mid-Harlem Station Improvement project page at the Library of Congress.

   
  
   
  

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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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Temporary Closure of the Transit Museum Annex in GCT, Alternate locations for TransitChek

Starting on January 19th, and continuing into March, the Transit Museum’s Annex in Grand Central Terminal will be closed for renovations. New fixtures and lights will be added in that time, a redesigned store, as well as a new exhibit. The reopening date in March has not been announced yet. When I hear anything about the reopening of the Annex, I will let you all know.

If you need to purchase any transportation items or gifts from the museum, you can either visit the museum’s main location in Brooklyn, or purchase items online at transitmuseumstore.com.

Anyone who normally uses the museum to redeem a TransitChek, or a Commuter Check for a MetroCard, there are several alternate locations you can use during this time period:

TransitChek

Turtle Bay Chemists 901 Second Avenue at 48th St. 212-752-5151
E.G.I. Check Cashing 117 E. 41st Street (Lex & Park) 212-661-9595
Royal Convenience Inc. 589 Third Avenue at 39th St. 212 687-2299

Commuter Check

New York Check Express 117 East 41st Street (Lex Ave) 212-661-9595
Hil-Nil Corporation 520 Madison Avenue at 53rd St. 212-832-2481
New York Check Express 660 Lexington Avenue at 55th St. 212-750-1070

In regards to TransitCheks for Metro-North, some people have written in saying that the additional ticket window closures will make it difficult to cash their TransitCheks. Now I have never done this, but a few friends of mine have, and claim this is acceptable. Use your monthly ticket from the previous month on the morning of the first day of the new month. Tell the Conductor that when you arrive at your destination (Grand Central) you will be purchasing a new monthly ticket, since you need to purchase the ticket from an actual person. My friends insist that you are able to use your old monthly on the first day of the new month, only for the morning ride. Has anyone else done this before? Is doing that considered acceptable?

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Additional Ticket Offices to Close

Two days ago I posted a link to a story on LoHud.com saying that three Metro-North ticket offices would be closing on January 13: Larchmont, Harrison, and Fleetwood. Unfortunately LoHud reports this morning that the number of closures has jumped to seven. The closures are as follows:
Hudson Line: Ossining
Harlem Line: Fleetwood, Hartsdale, Chappaqua
New Haven Line: Larchmont, Harrison, Darien

That brings down the number of stations ticket offices on the Harlem Line down to eight (not counting Grand Central). As far as I am aware, Harlem Line ticket offices in Brewster, North White Plains, White Plains, Scarsdale, Bronxville, Mount Vernon West, Fordham, and Harlem 125th will remain open. But of course this could change as Metro-North looks to cut costs. Apparently none of the employees of the ticket offices will be laid off, just relocated to alternate positions with the railroad. Supposedly this cut will save $1.1 million in 2010.

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Some Metro-North ticket offices in Westchester to be closed

LoHud reported a few days ago that Metro North will be closing several manned ticket offices in Westchester county in order to cut costs. Ticket offices to be closed are Larchmont and Harrison, both on the New Haven Line, and Fleetwood, which is on the Harlem Line. They are set to be closed on January 13th.

I am certain that my friend is going to be thrilled when I tell her this. She often buys her ticket at the Fleetwood station. And she is one of those people that really hates dealing with machines. She wants to buy her ticket from a person. But I guess that isn’t how things work today. Apparently at Larchmont, only ten percent of the ticket sales were through the ticket counter. It is nice to cite numbers, but we aren’t seeing the number of people that used the ticket counter for other reasons, like looking for help or directions.

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