Edit: Metro-North has resumed most service. For the most current information, check the MTA website.
Mayor Bloomberg’s press conference addressing the damage after Irene has just completed. Of course, Chairman of the Metropolitan Transit Authority Jay Walder was present to address the state of New York City’s transit system. The unfortunate news for Metro-North riders is that it was our railroad that suffered the most damage out of all of the MTA. Walder said there was severe damage to all three lines, including significant flooding and track erosion. Damage assessments are still going on, and there will be no decision on when service will be restored until these assessments have been completed.
What I must say, however, is that MTA has been keeping us in the loop via their Flickr account, which is much appreciated. From the photos we can see that there is severe flooding at Tuckahoe and Valhalla, on the Harlem Line. Valhalla also has power lines down, in the vicinity of Kensico Cemetery. There was a mudslide at Spuyten Duyvil and Scarborough on the Hudson Line. Beacon, also on the Hudson line, has massive flooding and is probably the worst station I’ve seen so far, with the parking lot and pedestrian underpass completely filled with water. Harriman, on the Port Jervis Branch also has a flooded parking lot. Thus far there has been no photos posted of the New Haven Line, but Governor Dannel Malloy has said that there was extensive damage to the catenary system, and on the New Canaan branch. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves… (all photos credited to the MTA)
Also interesting are a few photos from yesterday in Grand Central. Seeing the station this empty is a bit creepy. Although people say that this happens quite frequently at night, it is obvious that it is not night in these photos. You can see Grand Central Terminal empty – with the sunlight still streaming through the windows. That light makes these images even more amazing to me. I’m a bit jealous I wasn’t there myself to take photos of the empty station!
I’m not much of a psychic, but I have a really good feeling that there will be a part 5. But until then, enjoy more old postcards from various locations along the Harlem Line. This time we have Brewster, more of Chatham, the abandoned Upper Harlem station of Craryville, a view of Croton Falls, Dover Plains, and Goldens Bridge, the station at Hartsdale, a winter scene at Hawthorne, a train pulling into Pleasantville, a view of the depot in Tuckahoe, the Borden Condensed Milk factory – located next to the tracks in Wassaic, and the old station in White Plains.
I’ve spent many months posting various panoramas of the Harlem Line stations. I’m now excited to be able to post the entire Harlem Line, viewed in panoramas. You can watch as the farmland and rural greenery morphs into the suburbs, before changing into the concrete jungle of New York City. If you want to see more photos from each of the stations, just click on the picture. Anybody have a favorite panorama? I think my two favorites are Tenmile River and Harlem-125th Street – the two of them are polar opposites in terms of the scenery visible while taking a ride down New York City’s oldest railroad.
For those who like maps, I place all of my panoramas on a Google map, which you can see below. I also add photos to Panoramio, which provides the photos for Google Earth.
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Back in November I posted a whole bunch of postcards that I had collected of stations along the Harlem. I had promised a part two, and here it is now… but why stop at just part two? I’ve sort of realized I have quite the boatload of postcards, and I keep acquiring them. One of my rather lofty goals was to be able to collect a postcard for each Harlem railroad station. But I also couldn’t help purchasing alternate designs of the same stations. So although some places I have no postcards for, there are others that I have a bunch. I have far too many of Grand Central, and three or more of stations like Pleasantville, Chappaqua, and Chatham. Needless to say, there will be a part three, and possibly a part four at some time in the future. I do have a request to any of you out there, though. If you happen to have a postcard that I don’t have in my collection here, I would love you so much if you could scan it for me. As much as I’d love to actually have it in my possession, I would love it even more to have it available in my digital gallery!
The last four postcards are a little different. They are not Harlem stations per se, but once upon a time you could board a Harlem Division train that went into Massachusetts, across the Boston & Albany’s tracks. Leaving from Grand Central, the train would make stops at 125th Street, White Plains, Brewster, Pawling and Chatham. After a short pause in Chatham, the train would continue to East Chatham and Canaan, before crossing into Massachusetts and making stops at State Line, Richmond, Pittsfield, Cheshire, Adams and North Adams. Most of those stations are long gone, just like the Upper Harlem stations. Amtrak trains still make stops in Pittsfield, though the two stations in the postcards were torn down, which is unfortunate. They were gorgeous in comparison to today’s Pittsfield station. I think the waiting room there looks more like a school cafeteria than part of a train station!
Timetable for Harlem Division service to Massachusetts
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.
Did I ever mention that sometimes I wonder if I picked the wrong profession? I enjoy graphic design but advertisements? For things like Christmas? Bah humbug, I hate Christmas. Well, no, actually I hate being told that I am required to purchase extravagant gifts for a particular person. Honestly, I’d much rather give someone a for no reason other than this reminded me of you present. But yet, here I am, working on last minute ads for Black Friday…
Just this once though, just for my lovely readers, I will pretend that I enjoy the holidays, and fill you in on all the train and holiday related good stuff on the Harlem Line and in the city.
Discounts to see the Christmas Spectacular or Wintuk
In case you missed last week’s Mileposts, those interested in seeing the Rockettes in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, or Cirque du Soleil’s Wintuk can get a discounted ticket thanks to Metro-North. In addition to the discount, you also receive a free roundtrip train ticket to go see the show! When purchasing tickets for these events, use the promo code METRO in order to apply this promotion. For more information, details, restrictions and the like, check out these pages: Tickets for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular Tickets for Wintuk
Discounts on the Nutcracker in White Plains
Another holiday event with discounts is at the Westchester County Center in White Plains. The Nutcracker, performed by the Westchester Ballet Company, will have shows on the 17th, 18th and 19th of December. Coupons are available on Westchester County’s website (after completing a short survey).
For information on purchasing tickets, click here.
Grand Central Holiday Fair
Every Christmas season Vanderbilt Hall is filled with various vendors selling their wares, and this year is no exception. The fair will run until December 24th, and is closed on Thanksgiving. For more information about hours, and a vendor map, check out this event page.
Holiday Train Show in Grand Central
The Transit Museum will again be hosting their Holiday Train show in their annex in Grand Central Terminal. Hours are as follows:
Monday – Friday 8:00 AM to 8 :00 PM
Saturday & Sunday 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
The show will run until January 17th.
Video from last year’s Holiday Train Show
Holiday Train Show at the Botanical Garden
The Botanical Garden will be having its annual Holiday Train Show, which starts this Saturday. The garden is easily accessible via the Harlem Line, very close to, you guessed it, Botanical Garden station. The show will run until January 9th. Train and holiday related events will be happening throughout that run – from gingerbread houses to Thomas the Tank Engine visits – so be sure to check the schedule.
Lionel Pop-Up Train Stores
For anybody interested in purchasing some Lionel trains for themselves or friends, Lionel has a few pop up stores in the area. Supposedly these stores will have limited edition products not sold anywhere else. You can find the stores in Manhattan and White Plains:
Lionel New York
1095 Avenue of the Americas (41st St), New York, NY [map]
Lionel at the Westchester Mall
125 Westchester Ave., White Plains, NY [map]
Holiday Events at the Westchester Italian Cultural Center
The presepio is the most popular traditional Christmas decoration in Italy, and the Westchester Italian Cultural Center, not far from Tuckahoe station, will have theirs on display for the season. Events start on November 30th with Christmas Through the Ages, and the opening of the presepio exhibit. The exhibit will continue until January 1st. For more information click here.
Mount Kisco: Tree Lighting
Not far from Mount Kisco’s train station the town will host its tree lighting ceremony, on Friday December 3rd at 6PM. Cookies and cocoa will be served, and for the young ones there will be visits with Santa Claus afterward.
104 Main Street, Mount Kisco: [map]
Brewster: Tree Lighting & Putnam Chorale Holiday Concert
Christmas events in Brewster will commence at 4:30 on December 4th at the Southeast Museum, down the street from the train station. A holiday ornament-making workshop will be held for children, followed by caroling and the village’s tree lighting.
For more information about that click here.
Afterward, the Putnam Chorale and Brass Quintet will be performing a holiday concert, which is a free event. The show will be held at the United Methodist Church, which again is not far from Brewster station. The concert starts at 7:30 PM.
For more information, go here.
Great Westchester Toy & Train Show
In time for Christmas gift-giving is the largest toy/train show in the northeast – and within easy walking distance from White Plains station. The show will be held on December 12th at the Westchester County Center, from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM.
For more information and a coupon for a dollar off admission, click here.
Annual IRideTheHarlemLine.com Holiday Card
Did I mention I hate cards too? They’re so impersonal sometimes, just grabbing something at Hallmark and running off. I’d much rather somebody draw me a picture, even if it is shitty. And every holiday that is exactly what I do, though I do hope you don’t think my drawing is shitty. Be sure to find me on the train and I’ll be happy to give you one of this year’s card (which is much better than last years). If I don’t see you or you don’t live in the area, you are welcome to email me your mailing address and I will send you one through the mail. (It will even have a Conductor Dog stamp on it!)
If I haven’t mentioned it before, I don’t really like trains. Really, I don’t. Trains are a means to getting somewhere, and you can often meet intriguing people aboard, but the mechanical object that is a train doesn’t really interest me. The thing that interests me about trains though, is how they effect people and place. Over its long history, as New York City’s first railroad – chartered in 1831, the New York & Harlem Railroad (todays Harlem Line) has undeniably had a significant influence on the towns it traversed. The railroad was an important catalyst for the growth of Westchester County over the late 1800’s and early 1900’s – and Scarsdale is no exception.
The town of Scarsdale, named for the ancestral home of land owner Caleb Heathcote, was mostly farmlands before the railroad arrived in 1846. In fact it was so rural the entire population of the town numbered 255, mostly farmers, in 1840 (today’s population numbers over 17,000). Due to increased demand, by 1877 train service to Scarsdale was regularly scheduled and reliable. In 1891 the Arthur Suburban Home Company purchased a 150 acre farm and began subdividing it into lots – marking the beginning of large scale suburban development in the town. The first influx of residents were wealthy New Yorkers who built estates and used the train to commute to the city.
Today’s Scarsdale station was completed in 1902 and was designed by Reed & Stem. I’ve mentioned Reed & Stem several times before, as they have designed a few stations along the line, including Tuckahoe and Chappaqua, and also did work on Grand Central Terminal. Their design was in a neo-Tudor style, the first building in Scarsdale with that style. Many buildings later completed in the commercial areas of the town mimicked it, and today Scarsdale is known for the style. It is definitely a beautiful area, and was a well-enjoyed stop on my tour of the Harlem Line’s stations. Neighboring station Hartsdale is sort of like a younger twin brother to Scarsdale – Hartsdale’s station also mimicked Scarsdale’s neo-Tudor style. The two also share a companion Arts for Transit piece, comprised of silhouetted figures, by Tom Nussbaum. Scarsdale’s portion is called Travelers, and the figures are located on the top of the platform canopies.
This Tuesday we visit yet another Westchester Harlem Line station: Tuckahoe. Tuckahoe is interesting in both an artistic sense, as well as historical. It is one of the few stations on the line that has an Arts For Transit piece, and the old station building still survives. It may not be used for selling tickets any longer, but it is beautifully restored and is occupied by Starbucks.
Tuckahoe itself is village located in the town of Eastchester, in the southern portion of Westchester county. Although the railroad played a significant part in the growth of Tuckahoe and all of the areas located along the line in Westchester (and further north), it was the discovery of marble in the early 1800’s that led significantly to the growth of the village. (The village was officially incorporated in 1902, the marble quarries were shut down in the 1930’s). Tuckahoe marble was used in many high-profile buildings, including St. Patrick’s Cathedral in the city, and the Washington Monument in Washington DC.
Tuckahoe’s station building was erected in 1901 and was designed by architects Reed & Stem. Reed & Stem worked on several stations on the Harlem Line, including Chappaqua, Scarsdale, and most notably, Grand Central. An Arts for Transit piece called The Finder / The Seekers by Arthur Gonzales is present at the station. Companion pieces also by Gonzales are at Crestwood and Fleetwood.
The station is located in a commercial area, and there are a few shops and restaurants that surround it. On Sundays during the summer the station’s parking lot also plays host to a farmers market (which you can see in the first photo).
As a bonus, here are some older photos of Tuckahoe in 1988. The station building looks a bit run down, and although I’m not the biggest fan of Starbucks, I must admit it looks much nicer today.
By now my little photography adventures have taken me to almost all of the Harlem Line stations (the only outstanding stations are Woodlawn, Williams Bridge, Botanical Garden, Melrose and Tremont. I’ve been warned for my safety at the last two). I’ve done a lot of fun things, and gotten to explore quite a bit. I’ve eaten an italian ice in Hartsdale with @kc2hmv, splashed in the river near Crestwood, and munched on good food in Mount Kisco, Valhalla and Tuckahoe. I’ve seen all the Arts for Transit pieces, and other randomly cute things, like the Commuter Rooster in Scarsdale. But despite all this, when I chatted with @bitchcakesny last night and she asked me my favorite station of all, I couldn’t quite answer.
There are so many good things about some of these stations, how could I pick just one? Wassaic and Pleasantville have my favorite Arts for Transit pieces, and I loved Harlem-125th’s art too, not to mention it was a great spot for photography. Bronxville has a unique station, and the shops surrounding Mount Kisco, Hartsdale and Scarsdale are cute and worth exploring. Chappaqua’s restored station building is a beautiful sight, and I’ve always been fond of Brewster’s old station building. What I was able to do though, is narrow it down by asking myself a question: If I had to be stuck at a single station for the entire day (maybe there was a big fire or something, shutting down Metro-North??), which would it be? And that answer is Katonah.
What makes Katonah special? The area around the station is very cute – full of shops and restaurants for eating good food. I will admit though, the Katonah Museum played a part in the decision. If you don’t mind walking the half mile from the station to this art museum, you really could spend the entire day here viewing art, shopping and eating. And if there was still time left you could hang out in the gazebo not far from the station, or go and visit the library which is two blocks away. Katonah is just another one of the nice places located along the Harlem Line, but one that certainly sticks out in my mind.
I thought it might be fun to do something different this Friday… Tuesdays I visit train stations, but I don’t talk much about what else is around the station. The Harlem Line has plenty of intriguing spots along the route, and many for the nature lover. I do get emails every once and a while asking me questions about doing things – people wondering what is within walking distance of the stations, and what they can get away and do. And for those who, like me, do not drive, or don’t feel like driving, you can definitely take Metro-North to get to interesting spots.
As I mentioned, there are many nature-related locales on the Harlem Line. Some of the obvious ones are the Botanical Garden and the Appalachian Trail, but there are many lesser-known spots. Pawling has the Pawling Nature Reserve, which is not far from the Appalachian Trail. At the end of the line in Wassaic is the trailhead for the Harlem Valley Rail Trail which follows the old route the Harlem Line once took further north. Lower Westchester has the Bronx River Parkway Reservation which is more than 13 miles long and stretches from Valhalla to Bronxville – and passes by North White Plains, White Plains, Hartsdale, Scarsdale, Crestwood and Tuckahoe stations.
One of the lesser-known spots is near and dear to my heart, situated in Goldens Bridge and not far from my house. In the evenings it is here that I make laughable attempts at running off the past nine years I spent sitting on my ass in front of a computer. In all seriousness though, it is beautiful and quiet little spot that few people other than fisherman and neighborhood residents (and some deer, swans and bullfrogs) know about. The trails are not extensive, but they surround the beautiful reservoir and provide access to various fishing spots. I went one step beyond that and purchased a boat for use on the reservoir as well (boat use is heavily regulated, this is NYC’s drinking water, after all). However, the most noteworthy part of this “Public Access” DEP area is the old railroad bridge.
I created this map based on my own explorations of the area. Maps are actually fun to make. :P
I’ve mentioned Bridge L-158a few times before. It is one of the few remaining vestiges of the branch of the Harlem Line that ran from Goldens Bridge to Lake Mahopac, and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It was originally built in 1883 over Rondout Creek near Kingston, NY, but was moved in 1904 by the New York Central Railroad to Goldens Bridge. Although the original bridge carried two tracks, the Mahopac branch was a single track line and when the bridge was reconstructed the width was shortened for a single track.
If you’re interested in visiting this part of the Harlem Line, it is within walking distance of Goldens Bridge station. Although it is rarely enforced, you do need an access permit to use the land for recreational use. But access permits are easy to get – you can register for one online and print it out immediately. If you’re interested in fishing or boating, you’ll need additional permits, so I advise checking the DEP’s site. People fish in the reservoir all year long, as the Muscoot is one of the reservoirs in which ice fishing is permitted. Although it is a lot smaller than some of the other nature spots around it is at least worth visiting to see the historic bridge. There are some times where it gets so quiet, except for the crunching leaves under the foot of a squirrel or deer, that you forget that you’re not that far from the city… only until you hear a train go by, yanking you back to reality.
My name is Emily, though I am known by many who ride the train simply as Cat Girl, for the hats I customarily wear during the winter time. I am a graphic designer, a former Metro North commuter and lifelong Harlem Line rider. This site is a collection of my usually train-related thoughts, observations, photographs, and travels, as well as my never-ending hunt for intriguing historical artifacts.