Tuesday Tour of the Harlem Line: Patterson

When I first began riding Metro-North to the city I was fairly young… and at the time I had always assumed that Brewster North was the end of the Harlem Line. It was my train’s last stop, after all. It is around this time of year that there is an influx of young riders, off to see the city’s Christmas decorations, the tree that will soon be in Rockefeller Center, and perhaps a visit to see the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City (for which I was riding the train). You can always tell who these children are – they come back and board the trains with obnoxious little gizmos that spin around and light up, items that probably cost mere cents to produce in China but get peddled to small children for a significant markup of around twenty dollars. Not only was I the obnoxious child that insisted on having that toy – for God’s sake it actually lit up – but I was that obnoxious child on your train.

It certainly has been a lot of years since then… I’m hopefully less obnoxious on the train, and I know that beyond Southeast – what Brewster North is now called – there still is more to the Harlem Line. The first stop north of Southeast – beyond the electrified tracks, located 60 miles north of Grand Central – is the last stop in Putnam County: Patterson. There is one track here, as well as a platform that will accommodate four train cars. It is a small station, but it does have the amenities we have come to know: automated ticket machines, and a shelter for waiting in the cold (great for days like yesterday).

If the quiet nature of Patterson station is not quite your thing, and you are looking for a bit of adventure, I’d suggest visiting Texas Taco. It is also in Patterson and not far from the station. Adjectives that come to mind when describing the place are colorful, slightly creepy, and “holy crap that lady has purple hair.” But that isn’t a bad thing, is it? Before I had cat hats, I used to have blue hair – but that too was a long time ago…

 
   
  
 
  
 
  

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Tuesday Tour of the Harlem Line: Scarsdale

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.

 
  
 
 
   
   
 
 
   
 

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Tuesday Tour of the Harlem Line: Croton Falls (and bonus: Millerton, Harlem Valley Rail Trail)

This week’s photo tour of the Harlem Line begins with current station Croton Falls. Located 47.7 miles north of Grand Central, it is the northernmost station in Westchester County. Prior to the arrival of the railroad, the town went by the name of Owensville, only becoming Croton Falls in 1846. The New York & Harlem Railroad had reached Croton Falls by the year 1847, and it served as the terminus of the line for a little more than a year – service to Dover Plains began by the end of 1848. By 1907 there were two tracks up to Croton Falls, as well as a siding with a capacity for 83 cars.

Today Croton Falls is a bit on the small side, with a platform long enough to accommodate only four train cars. The station area is located in the center of the hamlet, surrounded by various shops, restaurants, a post office, and the fire department.

 
   
  
  

Since I didn’t have all that many great photos from Croton Falls, here is an additional set of photos from Millerton. Millerton was once a stop on the Harlem Division, and is one of the few that still has the old station building. South of Millerton, all the way to Wassaic where it meets with Metro-North, runs the Harlem Valley Rail Trail. The trail covers the 10.7 miles where the rail once was. There is also a smaller portion of trail up by Copake, which I posted photos of a few weeks ago. If you’re interested in learning more about the Harlem Valley Rail Trail, you can view their website here.

 
  
 
  
 
 
  

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Tuesday Tour of the Harlem Line: Fordham

Another Tuesday, another Harlem Line station… I was a bit behind today, and I am glad I was able to keep up with the schedule, hehe. I’ve been hard at work with some new things for the site, which unfortunately requires me to draw a bit, and although my shoulder is feeling better, it was hurting after drawing too long. When I went for therapy I told this to my doctor… and he looked at me like I grew two heads. “A tablet what?” Later on he advised me to “not draw too much on your scrabble board.” I suppose he’d shit a brick if he saw a person walk in with an iPad. In other news I’ve upped the security on commenting here. I’ve gotten a bit fed up with thousands of spam comments a week, even though they go into a spam folder and don’t actually get posted. The additional spam blocker I’ve added (that prevents spam from ever getting submitted) warned me that there may be false positives. So if you ever make a comment that doesn’t get through, please let me know. Despite the fact that I really didn’t want to, I’ve also closed comments on articles more than 2 months old, which cut down on a lot of the spam.

Anyways, back to Fordham. Besides Harlem-125th Street, Fordham is one of the other Harlem Line stations that is shared. Both Harlem Line and New Haven Line trains stop here, and it is one of Metro-North’s busier stations. Much of the ridership at Fordham is made up of reverse commuters: folks that leave the city and head to jobs in Westchester and Connecticut. Over 6,000 reverse commuters head north on week days. The station itself is located below street level, with a portion of the platform being covered by the road above. Although it does have a ticket window and a small waiting room, I didn’t get too many photos since it was under construction when I visited. Construction on the platform will also be happening soon, as it was announced in July that Metro-North had purchased additional land to extend the platform, and a new canopy and shelter will be built.

Within close proximity to the station is Fordham University, as well as many shops. The station also serves as Metro North’s access point to the Bronx Zoo, as you can take a bus from the station to the zoo. Other than that, Fordham is not the most remarkable station… but here are some photos, enjoy!

 
  
 
   
 
   
 

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Tuesday Tour of the Harlem Line: Purdy’s (and bonus Copake Falls)

Several months ago I wrote about some of the names of the towns located along the Harlem Line, and how they have evolved over the years. Many of the names were taken from the families that owned the land, or perhaps donated it for the railroad to use, and the name had a possessive. For example, Brewster was known as Brewster’s after former land owners James and Walter Brewster. “Golden’s Bridge” was always a particular enigma, as the majority of use has evolved beyond the apostrophe (town signage does not use it, and the railroad stopped using it in 2003 on public timetables), yet the area’s fire department still uses the apostrophe, as does Google maps. There, however, is one remaining station that still bears the apostrophe of yesteryear, and that station is Purdy’s.

According to Louis Grogan’s book, The Coming of the New York & Harlem Railroad, the name Purdy’s comes from landowner Daniel Pardieus. How exactly the name evolved into Purdy’s is not certain – yet the same scenario exists for Goldens Bridge (the namesake in question may have been named Golding, Goulding, or even Colden). I wasn’t able to determine whether the area was called that prior to the railroad – and it might be yet another example where a hamlet/village takes its name from the station (Brewster is a good example of this. Brewster is part of the town of Southeast – though more people are familiar with the former than the latter. This played a part in the renaming of Brewster North, a railroad invented name, to Southeast, the actual town’s name). The land for the station was donated to the railroad by Isaac, grandson of Daniel, in 1844. It certainly isn’t the most noteworthy of stations, but on a rather cloudy day I took a visit and snapped a few photos.




As none of those photos were incredibly brilliant, I felt I would be cheating if I didn’t at least give you all a bonus to look at. And so, here is one of the former Harlem Line stations: Copake Falls. This former station is located in the town of Copake, in Columbia County, and approximately 22 miles north of the current end of track in Wassaic. To one side of the former station is the Taconic State Park, and to the other side is a portion of the Harlem Valley Rail Trail. For the past twenty-eight years it has housed the Depot Deli. Interestingly, the owner told me that when he purchased the land the deed included a clause specifying that if passenger service was ever restored on the line he would provide a space for waiting travelers. Considering that the last passenger train ran through in 1972, and the tracks were removed in the 80’s, it is doubtful that would ever happen.

  
 
  
  
  

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Tuesday Tour of the Harlem Line: Tuckahoe

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.

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Tuesday Tour of the Harlem Line: Valhalla

When I was a lot younger if you had asked me what my favorite train station was, I’d probably say Valhalla. I had never been there, but every time I rode the train and we passed it by, I thought Valhalla was the coolest station ever. You see, I was always a fan of Norse mythology (and if you were wondering, Loki is of course my favorite Norse god). I also loved this silly old game called Castle of the Winds, which I played on my computer that had Windows 3.1 loaded on it. Castle of the Winds was roughly based on Norse mythology. And if your character was to die at any point during the game, your name would be listed on a scroll: Valhalla’s List of Legends.

Usually the quick response given to anyone wondering what exactly Valhalla was, is that it was Heaven in Norse mythology. But calling it Heaven doesn’t fully explain the subject. Valhalla was the hall of slain warriors. Warriors that died in battle congregated in Valhalla with the chief god Odin, awaiting Ragnarök (battle at the end of the world). During that battle, these warriors would fight alongside Odin. The real question that comes to mind though, is how the heck did a little hamlet in Westchester county come to be known as the Norse hall of slain warriors?

The story (whether it can be validated or not, I am unsure) is that after the village of Kensico was flooded (for building the dam) the relocated people and their post office needed a new name for their town. The postmaster’s wife, who was a fan of Wagner, chose Valhalla. One of Wagner’s operas is titled Ride of the Valkyries, the Valkyries being those who transport the deceased warriors to Valhalla. Considering the hamlet is well known today as being the resting place of many people, with all its large cemeteries, I bet that woman thought she was pretty sly.

Technically the blog has visited Valhalla already – at least the old station building, which is a restaurant, and back in February I made a snow angel on the platform there. But this time I am officially visiting the station itself (and in good weather!), and in typical Tuesday fashion, have quite a few pictures.








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Tuesday Tour of the Harlem Line: Bronxville

15.3 miles north of Grand Central on the Harlem Line, lies the station of Bronxville – located in the village of Bronxville, and the town of Eastchester. It is one of the more heavily used stations on the line, only Scarsdale and White Plains get more commuters. The railroad has had a presence in Bronxville since 1844, and like many of the suburbs along the line, grew significantly because of it. Bronxville is relatively small – the village is only one square mile, and has a population of around 6,500. It is not only one of the most affluent areas on the Harlem Line and Westchester, it is certainly one of the more affluent areas in the entire country.

Architecturally Bronxville’s station is very different than the tudor-style stations seen at other locations such as Hartsdale and Scarsdale. It was built in Mission Revival style, taking after the Hotel Gramatan, which was built in Bronxville in 1905. Mission Revival is more common in the west and specifically in California – and now that the hotel it was modeled after was torn down in the 1970’s – Bronxville station looks a little bit out of place stylistically. Nonetheless, it is still a beautiful building, and although the inside has seen many changes, the outside is very similar to how it was when completed in 1917. Unfortunately the Saturday I visited the station building was not open, so I never got to see how exactly that inside looked.

The architect for the station was A.F. Haldeman, and not much is known about him. It is possible that he was an architect on the staff of the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad. The only other projects I have seen him referenced in are a freight house in Manhattan, which most likely no longer exists, work on the Port Morris railroad yard, and stairwells for the Harlem station.









For an amusing bit of history, be sure to check out this newsreel video of Bronxville from 1933, Loving husbands face jail for kissing wives:

And here are a couple of views of the station in 1988:

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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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Tuesday Tour of the Harlem Line: Fleetwood

Oh Fleetwood, to me you will always be synonymous with chicken teriyaki. Let me explain. I have the beginnings of a problem – a hoarding problem (Cat Girl now, Cat Lady tomorrow!). I feel just about terrible throwing anything away, even if I don’t really want it. I hate wasting. So when I didn’t finish my chicken teriyaki lunch, I got it packed up and put it in my backpack – I figured the dog would get a nice dinner. Sitting on the train, with my backpack in my lap, that chicken had other ideas. Backpack explosion ideas. As I stood up to depart at Fleetwood, I happened find teriyaki sauce all over my lap. I did manage to take some acceptable photos of Fleetwood, but I was somewhat more concerned about looking like an idiot, and smelling like a Japanese restaurant. And go figure, on the way home a person recognized me. “Hey, you’re the girl with that train site…” never came at a worse time. Now I have readers think that I never washed my clothes after returning from Japan.

In more on-topic seriousness though, Fleetwood is one of the Harlem Line’s train stations in the north side of the city of Mount Vernon. Along with the stations of Crestwood and Tuckahoe, Fleetwood has an Arts for Transit piece by California-born artist Arthur Gonzalez. All three are bronze figures, and in Fleetwood’s case, it is located in the overpass between the platforms. Titled Time Catcher, the piece was installed in 1990, and is a “a tribute to those who built the railroad.”







Thankfully, my chicken teriyaki nightmare is not the most horrible food-related Metro-North horror story I’ve heard. Besides the crazy folks that I’ve actually seen bringing buckets of fried chicken (with ziploc bags for the bones) on the train that I frequently jest about, the prize thus far goes to a Snickers bar. While eating the candy, a piece fell… somewhere. Unable to find it, and ultimately forgotten about, the candy piece happened to be on the seat – which someone then sat upon. When arriving at Grand Central, a friend took it upon themself to inform the unfortunate someone (who I will not name) that they may have had a little “accident” on the train. I guess smelling like food isn’t as bad as crapping your pants.

Perhaps this is a lesson to us all? Leave the food at home? And enjoy these old photos of Fleetwood, taken in the 80’s?

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