Tuesday Tour of the Hudson Line: Yankees – E 153rd Street

Today our Tuesday Tour takes us to one of Metro-North’s newest stations, Yankees – E 153rd Street, or as many people think of it, Yankee Stadium station. The station construction coincided with the building of the new Yankee Stadium – the stadium opened on April 3, 2009, and the station shortly afterward on May 23, 2009. Though a station servicing the stadium had been talked about for a while, it was the new stadium that provided the motivation to get the project off the ground.


MTA preliminary design sketch of what Yankees-E 153rd Street station would look like. The completed station is very true to this rendering.


Timetables highlighting the new Yankees-E 153rd Street station. Hudson Line timetable from the collection of Bob Mortell.

While I generally like to feature history in our station tours, Yankees-E 153rd Street is a new station, thus I figured it would be interesting to instead check out the construction of the station. This is Metro-North’s newest station in New York (Fairfield Metro is the newest station, located in Connecticut). Historically, the New York Central offered special game day service to the old Yankee Stadium, but it required taking a train to Melrose, and either walking or taking a bus to the stadium itself. Now the stadium is just a short walk away – making Yankee Stadium extremely well connected with public transit (a subway station also services the stadium).

Flickr user Interloafer wonderfully documented the construction of Yankees-E 153rd Street station, even capturing the first train to service the station, and a shot of the first game day service. The below photos are from his collection:

  
  
 
  
 

While Yankees – E 153rd Street is designated as a Hudson Line stop, it is unique in that Harlem and New Haven Line trains service it on special game days. Using the wye at Mott Haven, trains from those two lines can move onto the Hudson Line, allowing passengers a one-seat ride to games and events. On non game days, the station is regularly accessible by trains on the Hudson Line.

An important part of the new station complex is the elevated and enclosed walkway that stretches from the station proper towards Yankee Stadium. An Arts for Transit piece was installed in this walkway, consisting of eleven mosaic panels, each measuring eighteen feet wide, and six and a half feet tall. The work is titled The Home of the Stars, and is by artist Ellen Harvey. Each panel displays a progression of time, from the sunset to the stars in the evening sky.

 
  
   
  
   
 

The Home of the Stars, an Arts for Transit piece by Ellen Harvey. Photographs of each individual panel from the artist’s website.

In the station proper, things look a bit different than at most other Metro-North stations. The rounded advertisement boards on the platform, and the large overhead dome in the mezzanine seem to resemble an airport more than a train station. This is also the only Metro-North station where you’ll find single person entry gates. On game days, you’ll need to hand in your ticket to get through these gates, in case there was not time to collect your fare on the train. The remainder of the station resembles the typical Metro-North station, complete with island platforms, wire benches, and blue trash bins.

Anyways, here are the photos I took at Yankees – E 153rd Street station… hopefully everyone out there is okay and has survived Sandy!

 
 
  
  
 
 
  
  
 
 
 
  
 
 
  
 

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Celebrating Grand Central Terminal’s Centennial: The 100 for 100 Project

Provided you haven’t been living under a rock recently, you may have heard that Grand Central Terminal’s Centennial is fast approaching. While Metro-North will be kicking off celebrations in February, I thought it would be more fun to get the party started now. That’s why I Ride the Harlem Line will be counting down the next 100 days to Grand Central’s Centennial with a historical photo of the Terminal. That’s right – 100 historical photos, posted one per day, for the next 100 days. I like to call it the Grand Central 100 for 100 Project. While there will, of course, be a few iconic photos in the mix that you’ve certainly seen before, I’m hoping that the majority of them you haven’t seen. It is a great way to visually explore the history of the Terminal, and to see Grand Central in a new light.

Grand Central is truly a monument of New York City. Not only is it functionally important – a great example of what a train station should be – it is architecturally significant, and paramount, an important precedent for historical preservation in the United States. Besides all that, Grand Central means a lot to me – and this is one of the few ways a lowly commuter interested in history such as myself can celebrate it. Grand Central, and its Centennial Committee, plan to hold their festivities on the first of February – which seems entirely appropriate – for the committee contains the rich, and the famous. Grand Central unofficially opened on the First of February in 1913 – not to the public, but to the rich and the famous. It was not until the gorgeous Information Booth clock’s hands moved to midnight, commencing the new day of February 2nd, that the Terminal opened to the public. Thus, February 2nd is the day that our project will be counting down to, one photo at a time.


A poster advertising Grand Central Terminal’s opening on February 2nd, 1913.

Our photographic countdown will be comprised of nine different topics, with the photos in each moving in a roughly chronological order. Posting a new photo on the blog every day doesn’t seem to be the best format in which to present these images – thus I’ve decided that the better place to post them all will be on social media. Facebook and Twitter are conducive to sharing – and I want you to share these photos. I want everyone to celebrate Grand Central and its 100th birthday – for it is our monument, not just a pretty building for the privileged.

Part 1: Construction of Grand Central Terminal
Thursday, October 25th

Part 2: Outside views, and the Changing Urban Landscape
Sunday, November 4th

Part 3: Waiting for the Train
Saturday, November 10th

Part 4: Trains in the Terminal
Sunday, November 18th

Part 5: Famous Faces
Friday, November 30th

Part 6: Around Grand Central
Sunday, December 9th

Part 7: The Main Concourse
Saturday, December 29th

Part 8: Noteworthy Events in the Terminal
Wednesday, January 9th

Part 9: Grand Central Terminal, Restored
Thursday, January 24th

So today, we begin. The first photo, and all subsequent photos, will be posted daily at 11 AM. Make sure to like or subscribe over on Facebook, or follow @mtaHarlemLine or the hashtag #100for100GCT on Twitter to see all the photos. There is also an unofficial countdown clock on the top of this site, which will link to the project photos, and count down to the centennial. We’ll also be celebrating with other Grand Central-themed posts over the span of the next hundred days, and will have something special on Grand Central’s birthday, February 2nd. Let the festivities begin!

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


Various artifacts from Hastings-on-Hudson station, including New York Central and Penn Central tickets. The Monthly Commutation ticket is from the collection of the Hastings Historical Society, and belonged to a young woman named Josephine Selvaggio.

Nestled in between the stations of Greystone and Dobbs Ferry, and just over 19 miles from Grand Central, lies the station of Hastings-on-Hudson. The railroad has been a main feature of Hastings since the 1840’s, and along with it came various factories and industry. In 1840 a sugar refinery was established just south of where the train station is. A fire destroyed the building in 1875, and many of the other riverfront factories also burned. While the refinery was not rebuilt, other factories moved in to occupy the desirable space, adjacent to both the railroad and the riverfront.

Over the years a chemical company, a cable and wire company, a pavement company, and even a brass manufacturer have all called Hastings home. Unfortunately some of this industry has left parts of the area contaminated. Though there are certainly spots close to the train station where one can admire the view of the Hudson River and the Palisades, it is impossible to not notice the marks of Hastings’ industrial history.


Industry in Hastings – A postcard from the Hudson River Steam Sugar Refinery, and a brochure from the Anaconda Wire and Cable Company. The railroad, which ran right alongside these factories, is visible in both. These two artifacts come from the Historical Treasures of Westchester County website.


A 1926 photo of the riverfront area in Hastings-on-Hudson. Located beside the railroad tracks and the Hudson River, the area was quite industrialized. Visible in the photo are the Zinsser Chemical Company (far left), the American Brass Company (far right) and the Hastings Pavement Company (center). The roof of the train station is visible in the bottom right. Photograph by Arthur Langmuir, from the collection of the Hastings Historical Society.


The first train station in Hastings, circa 1900. This station was demolished in 1910 to make room for a new station. Photo from the collection of the Hastings Historical Society.

The current Hastings-on-Hudson station, operated by Metro-North, consists of two side platforms straddling four tracks. The platforms are connected by an overpass, which includes a few ticket machines inside. The old railroad depot, constructed circa 1910, still stands and overlooks the platforms. The building’s manned ticket window is long gone, but the space is now occupied by the Hastings Station Cafe. Beyond that, there isn’t much that is particularly noteworthy here. Just another Hudson Line station, complete with a nice view, and a little bit of history.

 
 
  
 
   
  
 
   
  
 
  
   
 

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Tuesday Tour of the Hudson Line: Garrison


Excerpts from old Hudson River Railroad timetables, from 1853 and 1889, showing the station name as “Garrison’s.”

If you’re looking for attractive views along the Hudson, Garrison might be the station for you. Garrison station is located along the waterfront, and from there are lovely views of West Point on the river’s opposite bank. Due to the proximity to West Point you may think that the name derives from some military installation, however the name is a reference to the Garrison family. The first Garrisons arrived in the area in 1786, but it wasn’t until 1803 that Harry Garrison purchased waterfront property that the area became known as Garrison’s Landing. The name caught on, largely because of the ferry to West Point, established by the Garrisons in 1829. When the railroad arrived, and a station established, the name became permanent – though over the years it has morphed from “Garrison’s” to just “Garrison.”


Just passing through Garrison…

Today’s train station is located just shy of 50 miles from Grand Central, in the un-electrified territory of the Hudson Line. The old stone station, just north of Metro-North’s station, still stands and is in use by the Philipstown Depot Theatre. Completed in 1893, the station was built by William H. LaDue, who was also responsible for the construction of several other stations in the area. Right next to the old station is the entrance to a tunnel leading under the tracks, built in 1929. The newer platform, used by Metro-North, consists of two side platforms, connected by an overpass. Thus Garrison is one of very few Metro-North stations to have both a tunnel and an overpass.


Photo of the 1897 train wreck, just south of Garrison station. Photo from the George Eastman House Collection, though erroneously labeled as Harrison, NY and not Garrison.

In railroad lore, Garrison may unfortunately be remembered for the terrible train crash that occurred on October 24, 1897. A nine-car train, containing six sleeper cars, left Albany at 3:43 AM and derailed just south of Garrison station at around 5:46 AM. The engine and several train cars were thrown into the river, and eighteen of the nineteen people that perished drowned in the Hudson. Among the casualties was the engineer, at 35-year veteran of the New York Central, and the fireman, who had been working for the railroad for seven years.

The cause of the wreck was inconclusive, and the investigatory report reads:

This train was wrecked either by derailment, which destroyed the embankment, or that the embankment gave way and threw the train into the river. Therefore the board feels it to be its public duty to recommend in urgent terms and to require that all railroads in this State whose roadbeds or parts of roadbeds are carried on embankments lying alongside of and washed by water courses, shall give careful inspection to and constant efficient maintenance for such embankments.

That is about it for Garrison, though it may be worth mentioning that north of the station is a tunnel. An elevated roadway provides a nice vantage point to watch southbound trains passing through that tunnel.

Next week the Tuesday Tour will be heading south and visiting another one of Westchester county’s Hudson Line stations. Want a hint? A hear next week’s station has a restaurant nearby that has some tasty lobsters…

 
  
   
  
 
  
 
  
 
  
   
 
   

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Have you checked out “The New York Commuter’s Glossary” yet?

Have you checked out “The New York Commuter’s Glossary” yet? If you haven’t yet heard of the book, it is a humorous little collection of words and illustrations related to the art of commuting. It was written by Mike Malone – who is the man behind Train Jotting, illustrated by the awesome Joe Walden, and of course, designed by me. You can buy copies online, or if you happen to be in the White Plains area, Gary Waxman is selling copies at his newsstand in the train station. You can also find it at the Village Bookstore in Pleasantville.


Gary Waxman shows off the book


Yes, this book was designed while riding Metro-North

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The Hiawatha Line’s musical station: Lake Street – Midtown

Most public places – whether it be a shopping mall, park, or even a train station – has had at one time had some difficulties with loiterers and troublemakers. How to deter these troublemakers from hanging out is an often debated subject. A convenience store in South Wales tested out the “mosquito tone“, a high-pitched, obnoxious noise audible only to children (in theory, it depends on your hearing. I can definitely still hear it). Rowdy teens that once congregated around the store now avoid it due to the unpleasant noise.

The “mosquito tone” is a quite crude solution to the problem of loiterers. Although it sounds a little bit odd at first, Minnesota’s Metro Transit has attempted a more eloquent solution – classical music. They certainly aren’t the first to try out the idea – similar initiatives have been put in place in Portland, Atlanta, and even London. After a stabbing incident at the Lake Street – Midtown station, the decision was made to play classical music there. Although there is no hard evidence to say it works, complaints about disorderly conduct and public intoxication at the station are down. Perhaps the music makes people more calm, or more likely, teens don’t want to hang around and be subjected to Bach.


Quick video that I took while at the station as an example of the classical music being played there.

I will be the first to admit that I thought the idea of classical music in a station to prevent crimes was a bit funny. Before heading to Minneapolis I put the station on a mental list of places I wanted to visit, just for amusement value. Though after arriving on the platform, I was a tad disappointed – other than the people waiting for the train, it was silent. However, as I approached the elevator, I could hear the music. Apparently it is played in the enclosed areas of the station. But since the railroad tracks are on the upper level of the station, it is ensured that every rider will get a small dose of classical music when they take the elevator, escalator, or stairs to track level.

Though I do actually appreciate the music, Lake Street – Midtown isn’t too bad of a station without it. As I mentioned in my introduction to the Hiawatha Line, there are a lot of little things that Metro Transit does to make stations a bit more cheerful. Many of the windows at Lake Street – Midtown are colored – there are various panels of reds, blues, and yellows on the lower entrance level, and the upper track level. Anyways, here is a quick look at Lake Street – Midtown station. There will, of course, be more to come, as I took way too many photos in Minneapolis and of the Hiawatha Line.

 
   
 
  
   
 

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Welcome to Minnesota, and the Hiawatha Line

 
Map of the Hiawatha Line in a horizontal format. The line runs roughly north-south, so everything has been rotated to display the stations this way.

When it comes to travel, I am always a fan of the odd and interesting – generally off the beaten track. After all, one doesn’t normally consider burning towns, sketchy Zimbabwean train stations, or big blocks of ice customary destinations for diversion. So when I recently decided to visit Minneapolis, I had been asked by at least one person why. Had I run out of interesting places to go? No, not really. While I am looking to visit the few states I haven’t yet been to (one of which was Minnesota), I honestly thought that the Minneapolis area sounded interesting. I had made plans to check out the Mall of America (and their rollercoasters!), and of course, to ride the light rail. At the time I didn’t realize how much I would love Minneapolis’ light rail system… and I am totally admitting it here. I love the Hiawatha Line.

Admittedly, from railroading point of view, a light rail system like the Hiawatha Line isn’t the most interesting thing to watch. But Minneapolis is big into public art, and obviously their fairly new rail system would be no exception to that. I think it is the blend of rail infrastructure and aesthetic beauty that has captured my interest. Everything about the system, right down to the bricks on the platform, seems designed to be visually pleasing. It is amazing how simple things, like a few colored windows, or the aforementioned bricks arranged into colorful patterns, make such a great impact! But not everything would fall into the category of “little things” – in some instances the station artwork is huge. Downtown East – Metrodome station, for example, has towering patterned arches that dwarf the station itself. The piece evokes the image of the historical Stone Arch Bridge, only a few blocks away. Trains, art, and nods to history? No wonder why I love this place!

The next couple of weeks I’ll be sharing many of the photos I took while riding the Hiawatha Line. I managed to get to more than half of the stations, and a few of the attractions located near the train. An awesome thing to note is that there are actually self-guided city tours designed around the Hiawatha Line, which I made use of on my first day wandering around. Along with an audio device, the tour gives you a pass to ride the rails all day, allowing you to roam and disembark wherever you desire. The tours even work if you are in Minneapolis for just a short time, like an airport layover, since the airport is well-connected to the train line.

So here’s a short photographic intro to the Hiawatha Line… many more photos to come!


Typical area of operation for the Hiawatha Line. Much of the trackage runs parallel to streets, including Hiawatha Avenue, from which the line’s name derives. Other portions of the line, especially at the south end in Bloomington, are at the center of divided highways. The line is just over 12 miles, yet by my count has 39 grade crossings (FYI, the Harlem Line has fewer grade crossings, and is 82 miles long!).

   
 

Typical view of the inside of a Hiawatha Line train car, which are produced by Bombardier. Most times two car trains are the norm, but special events (like Twins games) will warrant trains with additional cars.

 

Typical ticket machine on the Hiawatha Line. Machines are programmed to work in four different languages: English, Spanish, Somali, and Hmong.

  

Platform views on the Hiawatha Line. An important part of the system is the low-level platforms, which match up with trains with very low floors. The gap is almost non-existant as well, allowing people in wheelchairs to board trains without assistance.

 

Another important feature of the system is the public art. Most stations have some sort of artistic flair, if not obvious works of art, like the above arches at Downtown East – Metrodome station.

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From train station to library, Part 2: Middletown


Middletown station, circa 1900. From the collection of the Historical Society of Middletown

Last December I posted some photos from Briarcliff Manor, a station that was along the now-defunct Putnam Division, and how it has since been converted into a library. I’ve always thought it seems appropriate for an old train station to live a second life as a home to history and literature in the form of a library. There are several such places in New York state alone, but one of my favorites is in Middletown, NY. Since we’ve now turned our attention to Metro-North’s west-of-Hudson service and will spend the next few Tuesdays visiting the stations of the Port Jervis line, I thought it would be appropriate to also check out some of the former stations. Middletown is likely one of the most beautiful of the extant stations to fall under that category.


Roosevelt arrives in Middletown via train, 1898. [image source]

As I mentioned earlier this week, the current Port Jervis line follows a slightly different route than the original passenger line operated by the Erie railroad. A portion of the Erie main line was abandoned, and trains were rerouted along the freight Graham Line in the 80’s. The tracks that ran through the center of Middletown, and past this Erie depot, were part of the section that was abandoned. When the old tracks were removed, Middletown’s historic Erie depot became just an old building surrounded by asphalt and automobiles. Its life as a venue for rail travel had come to an end.

 

(top) A circus train arrives in Middletown in 1906. (bottom) Celebrating Erie Day in 1943. [images source]

Built in 1896, the beautiful Romanesque-style Erie depot was designed by architect George Archer. Archer was a native of Maryland and a graduate of Princeton University. He designed several churches, banks, and other buildings in the mid-Atlantic area of the US, and in varying styles. As I’ve mentioned before, the Romanesque style is definitely my favorite, and was popular in the US in the 1880’s and 1890’s. Chatham and Mamaroneck are other examples of stations designed in similar style which I’ve featured before.

  
 
 
1971 photos from the Historic American Buildings Survey, and an undated postcard view of the station

Though the name “Erie Railroad” is prominently emblazoned on the outside of the building, the station did in fact outlive that railroad. In 1960 the cash-strapped Erie, and the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroads combined to form the Erie Lackawanna Railroad. Similar to the fate of the Penn Central, the Erie Lackawanna eventually declared bankruptcy and was ultimately merged into Conrail. The station survived all of these changes, and stood watch as the final passenger train arrived at Middletown at 6 PM on April 16th, 1983.

 

Photos of Middletown in the 1970’s, from the collection of Michael Jensen.

Fortunately, the story doesn’t end there. By the 1980’s, the Middletown Thrall Library began to run into a difficult, yet obvious problem – the building in which they were housed was too small. By 1991 a solution had been found – expanding and moving into the old Erie depot. Construction began in October of 1993, and the library finally opened in its new home on February 13, 1995. The new library cost a total of $5.3 million, and was now 30,000 square feet – much larger than its previous building. The library’s reading room is in what was the original station, and the director’s office was the original ticket booth. The rest of the building is modern, but made to mimic the style of the original station.

In several weeks we will visit Middletown’s replacement station on the Port Jervis Line on our Tuesday Tour, but suffice it to say, it pales in comparison to this beautiful building. But I don’t think anyone can really complain – the former Erie depot makes a fine library.

 
  
  
 
   
   
 
  
    
 
  
 
  
 
  
 
  

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Tuesday Tour of the New Haven Line: Noroton Heights


Noroton Heights, circa 1920. Image is from a postcard that was for sale on eBay, labeled as Norton Heights.

Today’s station visit on our tour of the New Haven Line may deserve the title of “Most frequently misspelled Metro-North station,” which certainly made researching it for today fun. Noroton Heights – or as some would believe, Norton Heights – has even been spelled wrong on a map published by Metro-North. However you spell it, we’re talking today about the place in Connecticut, the one that has the railroad station (a Norton Heights does actually exist in CT, it is in Wolcott). Located about 36 miles from Grand Central, Noroton Heights is on the New Haven main line, and is one of two train stations in the town of Darien.


Noroton Heights, 1946


Noroton Heights, date unknown. [image source]

Although the historic photos of Noroton Heights above are pretty awesome, none of them depict the placement of the station how it is today. When high-level platforms were being constructed along the line (in the early 70’s), the Noroton Heights station was shifted about two tenths of a mile east. Unfortunately, I was not aware of this at the time, so I missed seeing the old Noroton Heights depot, which is still around and is being used as a youth center. When the building’s life as a railroad station ended, it was transformed to serve the population of Darien in alternate methods. In 1972 it became the home of Darien EMS Post 53, and served as their headquarters for 16 years. After Post 53 relocated to a new building across the street, the old depot was set to be demolished. Fortunately, it was saved from that fate when the youth center acquired it in 1989.


The newer, high-level platform at Noroton Heights, 1980. [image source]

The station building that is there today isn’t particularly noteworthy, though it does have the typical amenities one would expect on a main line station – a canopy and shelter, a walkway to cross the tracks, and a few ticket vending machines.

 
  
   
   
  
 
  
  
 
  
 

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Tuesday Tour of the New Haven Line: Port Chester

Today’s visit on the New Haven Line is to Port Chester, which I must admit, is one of my favorites along the line. If one was to compile a list of the more noteworthy New Haven Line stations, Port Chester probably wouldn’t be on it… yet it would rank high on my list. Not only did I love the historical station building, but I also loved the new art on the platform, courtesy of Arts for Transit. On the blog, I’ve already mentioned my love of the “leaf people” at Port Chester, what I suppose you would call a grotesque, or a figure carved into the side of the station building. I can’t really think of too many other Metro-North stations that have similar carvings, so they are rather unique, and give a little bit of character to Port Chester.

 

Postcard views of Port Chester station

Port Chester itself is a village that is part of the town of Rye. Historically, both Connecticut and New York claimed ownership of the land, though it was ultimately designated a part of New York, and of Westchester County. The Port Chester train station is the first station in New York, after crossing the border from Connecticut on a New York City-bound train. The station is slightly less than 26 miles from Grand Central, and trips range from 39 minutes to 56 minutes, depending on whether the train is an express during peak hour or not.



More postcard views of Port Chester

As much as I love Arts for Transit, I think they have screwed up on the New Haven Line. Much to the chagrin of railfans, station buildings are becoming obsolete. In order to save money, Metro-North has closed countless ticket windows on all of their lines. Ticket Vending Machines on platforms are the norm at most stations. If a station happens to still have a building, it has likely been converted into a commercial space, or it serves as a waiting room during very minimal, select hours. Knowing all these things, however, Arts for Transit has continued to place art inside these station buildings. I would have loved to take better photographs of the art at Larchmont, Harrison, and Rye, but alas, all three were locked.

Thankfully, Arts for Transit has done well at Port Chester – which is one of the program’s newer pieces of work, installed just last year. In fact, I think Port Chester is a perfect example of exactly how this program should function – good art, installed in the open, public space of the station, and visible to riders (as much as I love Mount Vernon East‘s, it is hard to see it from a train, and is sufficiently outside the station area that regular commuters could potentially never notice it). I’m also very pleased when the art featured is by a local artist.


Painting by Bernard Greenwald, whose art is featured at Port Chester

The artist behind the work at Port Chester is Bernard Greenwald – though born in New Jersey, he’s currently based in Red Hook, NY. A friend of Greenwald’s suggested he submit his work for Arts for Transit’s call for artists for a piece at Port Chester station. Out of nearly 400 entrants, Greenwald was one of four finalists chosen to make a final proposal. Ultimately his art was selected for the commission, and he created 40 paintings of the Port Chester area. The designs from these paintings were then silk-screened between glass panels by a glass fabricator in Long Island, and installed in various shelters located on the platform at the station. It is a lovely addition to a nice spot on the New Haven Line.

  
 
 
  
  
 
   
  
 
   
 
  
 

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