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Exploring the 4: Arts for Transit Glasswork in the Bronx, Part 2 Train Photos

Friday, August 29th, 2014

Continuing along on our tour of the 4 line’s Arts for Transit glasswork are five more stations – each with a unique piece of art that adds color to the urban landscape.

183rd Street

Artist: Jose Ortiz

Title: Many Trails

Found in the mezzanine area of the station, the glassword at 183rd Street depicts scenes from the area, both from the past and present. The title of the piece derives from the symbol depicted on the first panel of the piece – it is the Mohican “Many Trails” symbol. The meaning behind the symbol is described as thus:

The design symbolizes the endurance, strength, and hope of a long-suffering, proud, and determined people. The curved shape represents the arms of a man raised in prayer. the circles represent many campfires. The lines represent the many trails taken from the time the Indians left their ancestral homes.

Some of the scenes depicted in the piece are the lands once inhabited by the Siwanoy Nation (a branch of the Mohicans) in the 1600s, the Croton Aqueduct, St. Nicholas of Tolentine Church, and the Hall of Fame for Great Americans at Bronx Community College.

  
 
  

176th Street

Artist: Juan Sanchez

Title: Reaching Out For Each Other

Originally designed with shaped bits of colored paper, Sanchez’s artwork features hands reaching out. Although the shapes are simple, they are easily recognizable, and add splashes of brilliant color to the platform and mezzanine areas of the station.

From artwork to faceted glass
Translated from paper to faceted glass – at left, one of Sanchez’s original works, at right, the same art in glass installed at the station.

  
 
   
  
 

Mount Eden Avenue

Artist: Amir Bey

Title: The Procession of Folk #3

At Mount Eden Avenue you’ll find colorful faces rendered in faceted glass on both the platform and lower entrance areas to the station. While the ones on the platform are certainly nice, the lower ones really shine – passing light projects the colors of the glass onto the floor. Each face represents a specific individual, someone known to the artist, and symbolizes the uniqueness of each rider that passes by.

  
   
  

170th Street

Artist: Dina Bursztyn

Title: Views from Above

Next along the line is “Views from Above” – which like Mount Eden Avenue is located on the platform and also downstairs in the station’s entrances. Bursztyn makes a little play on how the stations at the end of the 4 line are all elevated, depicting plants and animals in a similar elevated perspective. The brilliant colors of the faceted glass echo the colors of the sky seen from the elevated platform during sunrises and sunsets.

  
 
   
  

167th Street

Artist: Carol Sun

Title: A Bronx Reflection

Last, but certainly not least, is “A Bronx Reflection” – definitely one of the more beautiful bits of glass on the 4 line, if not the most beautiful. Installed in the station’s lower passageway, twelve colorful panels reflect a vision of growing up in the Bronx. Featuring text in both English and Spanish, the piece depicts animals, plants, schools, shops, and churches – culminating with a view from a window, complete with a steaming mug of coffee. All of these are scenes plucked from the memories of the artist, a Chinese-American artist who grew up in the Bronx, and teaches art to high-schoolers there today.

 
  
   
 
  
   
 

That wraps up the glass art found on the 4 Line… There are plenty of other Arts for Transit pieces along the line, but I’m featuring my favorite medium. While mosaics and other such pieces are certainly lovely, faceted glass has a unique ability to transcend the wall on which it is placed. As the daylight changes and the sun’s rays reflect through the glass, colors are projected onto the platform, providing an ever changing view.

Arts for Transit is a wonderful program, and if you’re interested in some of the other things you might find at various MTA transit stations, they have an app that you can download documenting the various art along the way. Coming this fall, a second edition of the book “Along the Way: MTA Arts for Transit” will be hitting the shelves, which will contain a photo or two of mine as well.

Behind the scenes of the Alaska Railroad… Train Photos

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

Over the past few weeks we’ve gotten a chance to check out the best that the Alaska Railroad has to offer – from its most attractive scenery to some of its rarer routes, we’ve covered a lot of ground. Part of the awesomeness of the NRHS convention was that we got to see some “behind the scenes” stuff that most rail passengers never get to see. The Alaska Railroad was undoubtedly a generous host, opening not just their rail system to us, but their operations center and even their locomotive shops.

I won’t include a whole lot of commentary with this post, and I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. If you ever wanted to get a “behind the scenes” view of the Alaska Railroad, we’ll take a quick tour of their operations center, check out the view from a few of their locomotives, visit the car facilities and of course, the locomotive shops. And yes, I ran all around with my trusty fish-eye lens… because I could!

  
 
 
From this perch one can monitor the activities of the Alaska Railroad…

 
  

Shall we take some equipment out for a spin?

 
Inside DMU #751 – “Chugach Explorer”

 
   

The Alaska Railroad’s finest railcar, the Denali, is luxury on the rails. Built in 1929 and refurbished by the Alaska Railroad, the car features only the fanciest materials – bronze, crystal, mahogany, and marble. The railcar contains a sitting area, a “boardroom”, a kitchen, as well as a bedroom and bathroom (which is probably nicer than the one in your own home).

  

Railcars used by various cruise companies are also stored and maintained here.

 
  
  
Some of the various equipment stored outside…

 
   
  
   
  
 
 
The car facilities and locomotive shops… that’s what you really wanted to see, isn’t it?

Tuesday Tour of the Hudson Line: Spuyten Duyvil Train Photos

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012


View of the railroad tracks near Spuyten Duyvil in 1890.

When coming up with superlatives for the Hudson Line, people generally cite it as Metro-North’s most attractive line. I, on the other hand, like to think of it as the most frequently misspelled. It is the Hudson Line that has stations like “Phillip’s Manor” and “Pokipse,” and, of course, the one that takes the cake – “Spitendivel.” Today’s tour takes us to the (correctly spelled) Spuyten Duyvil, a station about 10 miles north of Grand Central Terminal in the Bronx. Considering that it is a station that is frequently misspelled, as well as rather attractive, it seems to be a good representation of the Hudson Line.


Stock certificate for the Spuyten Duyvil and Port Morris Railroad Company

As I am sure you could gather, the name Spuyten Duyvil is clearly not from the English language. The name derives from the Dutch Spuitende Duivel, which means spouting devil. First bestowed on the creek nearby, the name was later adopted for the train station as well. Historically, there was also a railroad that bore the name – the Spuyten Duyvil and Port Morris Railroad Company. It was leased to, and later incorporated into the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad, which allowed that road to connect with the Harlem Railroad at Mott Haven.


Spuyten Duyvil station in 1958.


1975 view near Spuyten Duyvil.

I don’t think there is really too much else to say about Spuyten Duyvil, other than the fact that it really is an interesting spot. Located right on the water, you can watch the Circle Line and other boats sail up and down the river. Right above your head is the Henry Hudson bridge, which provides an interesting vista very much unlike any other Metro-North station. Just north of the station is an old rail tower that is no longer used, which is visible in a few of my photos from the station. Also north of the station is where Amtrak diverges, and the tracks cross the river via a swing bridge which is visible from the platform. The swing bridge is definitely interesting to watch, it opens and closes somewhat frequently to accommodate around 30 trains that pass over it every day.


Aerial view of Spuyten Duyvil. The Henry Hudson bridge as well as Amtrak’s Spuyten Duyvil swing bridge are visible. If you look closely you can just make out the Metro-North platform under the bridge.

Anyways, that is all I’ve got for today and Spuyten Duyvil. I must insert a shameless plug here – if you like the historical photos I post along with these Tuesday Tours, you should totally like us on Facebook (if you haven’t already). I’ve been posting a bunch of old photos on there, and I promise something pretty interesting will be happening over there within the next month (shh, it’s a surprise!).

 
   
 
  
 
 
 
  
 
 
  
 
 
  
 
 

Tuesday Tour of the Hudson Line: Breakneck Ridge Train Photos

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012


Penn Central locomotive passes by Breakneck Ridge in 1971.

Though Metro-North is primarily a commuter railroad, there are a few station stops throughout the system that break that mold. Mount Pleasant is a limited-service station on the Harlem Line, adjacent to several cemeteries. In addition, there are three other limited-service stations that are primarily for hikers: Appalachian Trail, Manitou, and the subject of today’s tour – Breakneck Ridge. Located 55 miles from Grand Central, Breakneck Ridge lies in the un-electrified territory of the Hudson Line. Similar to Appalachian Trail, no weekday trains stop here – but on weekends and holidays two trains in either direction make stops.


20th Century Limited passes by Bannerman Castle, just north of Breakneck Ridge

Although the name Breakneck Ridge might be a bit off-putting, the hike does offer beautiful views of the Hudson. Located just north of the station is Bannerman Castle, which only adds to the scenery. To the south is one of several tunnels on the Hudson Line – the aptly named Breakneck tunnel. Both of those landmarks may overshadow the actual Breakneck Ridge station, for there is not much here at all. The northbound side, meant for disembarking passengers, consists of only a small wooden platform. The southbound side is a bit more interesting, as it contains a small pedestrian overpass. From there you can look out and see the Hudson, or descend the stairs to another wooden platform from where you can board a train and be whisked back to the city.


Landmark numero uno – Passing through the Breakneck Tunnel, just south of Breakneck Ridge station. 1993 photograph by Jim Kleeman on Flickr.


One of my favorite photographs by Frank English, former Metro-North photographer, taken just north of Breakneck Ridge in order to capture Bannerman Castle.

Though not really part of the station, just beyond the overpass to the southbound platform is a small lookout. It is from here that you will get a lovely view – without having to exert yourself in hiking the ridge. Pollepel Island, home to the aforementioned Bannerman Castle, is in plain view from here, as well as the river and Storm King mountain. Much of the Hudson Line itself is quite picturesque, but the area surrounding Breakneck Ridge station is especially so. The views are certainly worth the visit, even if you aren’t planning on riding the train.

  
 
 
  
 
 
  
 
  
 
  
 
   
 

Tuesday Tour of the Hudson Line: Philipse Manor Train Photos

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012


Aerial view of Philipse Manor station, the Hudson Line, and the Hudson River. [image credit]

Our next stop on the Hudson Line is the kind of station that makes me glad I started this exploratory tour two years ago. While there are certainly some very boring, or at least run-of-the-mill, Metro-North stations (many of which I’ve shown you), this is certainly not one of them. Comprised of a lovely combination of history, art, and of course, trains, Philipse Manor is definitely one of the nicer stations I’ve visited.

Similar to many other stations on the line, Philipse Manor overlooks the picturesque Hudson River. Besides the old New York Central-built station building (now occupied by the Hudson Valley Writers’ Center), the platform is guarded over by a large cast-iron eagle. Astute commuters may notice it bears a strong resemblance to the eagle perched over Grand Central Terminal, and rightly so, for these brothers were two of many stationed over the original Grand Central Depot.

  

1988 photographs of Philipse Manor. In one of the images you can see the platform sign listing the station as “Philipse Manor, North Tarrytown.”

Located 26.5 miles north of Grand Central, Philipse Manor station is situated in the middle of Westchester county, in the village of Sleepy Hollow – formerly known as North Tarrytown. That name change was fairly recent, even in the early Metro-North days there was a platform sign that listed the station as Philipse Manor, North Tarrytown. The station consists of two side platforms surrounding four tracks. The original station building, which overlooks the platforms, is no longer used by the railroad.

 

Though the Philipse Manor station may now be home to the Hudson Valley Writers’ Center, artists of all variety seem to frequent the place. The above watercolor of the old station is by Karl Tanner. The lower station sketch by Linda Hejduk is regularly featured in Writers’ Center newsletters.

Over the years so many old depots have been demolished that whenever I hear about a restored historical station, I have to admit, I get a little bit excited. While it is lovely that there are three stations on the Harlem Line that have survived and now house Starbucks, there are a few uses for old train stations that I think fit a bit better – like a library. The old station at Philipse Manor might not be a library, but it is home to the Hudson Valley Writers’ Center. Besides the area being the stomping grounds of the headless horseman of American literary folklore, a historical station seems like a fitting place for artists and writers.


Architectural sketch of Philipse Manor station, created while the station was being restored.

Built circa 1910, Philipse Manor station was constructed into a bluff overlooking the Hudson River. Although one could once enter the station, descend some stairs and exit out of the basement to reach the platform, the lower portion of the station has now been closed off. The arches that provided ingress and egress are still visible on the platform, however. The majority of the station, built in the Tudor revival style, is constructed of rusticated granite, though there is some stucco and wooden trim visible.

Many old stations fall into disrepair over the years, and Philipse Manor was no exception. The station was restored in the early 90′s by Bond Street Architecture, at a cost of around $800,000. Emergency repairs on the roof and stabilization of the building’s frame was completed in 1992, and a full restoration effort began in 1995. The new home of the Writers’ Center opened to the public in 1996. The efforts to restore the station earned the Hudson Valley Writers’ Center the Excellence in Preservation Award in 2005.

   
  
  

Joseph Cavalieri with his Arts for Transit piece, installed at Philipse Manor. [image credit]

A more recent addition to Philipse Manor is visible in the station overpass. Many Hudson Line stations have undergone recent repair work, including renovations to the station overpasses. When the overpass at Philipse Manor was repaired some lovely stained glass was also included, as part of the Arts for Transit program. The piece was designed by local artist Joseph Cavalieri, and is titled North, South and Home. It is comprised of six panels of faceted glass, each measuring 33 by 42 inches. As I am sure @MetroNorthHaiku would appreciate, the text written across the panels is in fact a haiku:

A gentle Hudson
whistle begins my journey
north, and south and home

The piece was fabricated by Willet Hauser Architectural Glass, which made the glass for Scarborough, and several other MTA stations. Many of the recent Arts for Transit pieces installed at Metro-North stations have been in the medium of stained glass, and I think North, South and Home is one of my favorites, along with the piece at Mount Vernon East.

Hopefully you enjoyed touring Philipse Manor as much as I have! There will, of course, be more Hudson Line touring next week. Until then, here are the remainder of the photos I took at Philipse Manor – including a panorama of the station platform and one of the original Grand Central Depot eagles.