Tuesday Tour of the Harlem Line: Southeast

Not counting Grand Central, the Harlem Line has 37 different stations. Some of them, like Harlem-125th Street, and Fordham, are shared with other lines, but I still count them in that number. So far, I’ve been to 32 of those stations. The inevitable fact of the matter is that although there are a lot of interesting stations – located in nice areas, have historical station buildings, or have some sort of art – not every station is going to be incredibly intriguing. As I post these photos today, I seem to think this is the case with Southeast. The most interesting thing about the station is the yard nearby, but even that isn’t tremendously interesting, and there are better train watching spots on the line.

The station of Brewster North was built in the early 80’s by Metro-North, and has been the final stop on the Harlem’s electrified line. If you’re not lucky enough to be on an express train, it is here you’ll need to swap to a shuttle train for the rest of your journey to the Upper Harlem. Due to confusion with commuters, and a request by the town of Southeast, Brewster North was renamed Southeast in 2003. Southeast is one of the more busy stations on the Harlem Line, and gets commuters from all over the area, including Connecticut.

One of the reasons Southeast is so popular is due to the large parking lot, which can fit more than a thousand cars. This is how I’ve come to know Southeast – growing up my family would always cross the border into New York and take the train to the city, usually from Brewster. But Brewster’s parking lot isn’t the largest, and if it were a weekday we’d always go over to Southeast where there was more parking available. My dad still calls it Brewster North, and I don’t even try correcting him anymore… I know he’ll never remember!

…and I guarantee you if he were to see those pictures, he would ask me, where the heck is Southeast??

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Tuesday Tour of the Harlem Line: Hartsdale

When it comes to beautiful stations located on the Harlem Line, Hartsdale is definitely high on my list. Scarsdale’s station was built in 1902, and designed by Reed and Stem, in a neo-Tudor style. When Hartsdale’s station was built in 1912, architecture firm Warren & Wetmore modeled the style previously used in Scarsdale. Both station buildings still exist, and in the case of Hartsdale no longer has a ticket window. Instead, Hartsdale’s station building houses a Starbucks. Warren & Wetmore are most noted for their work on Grand Central, though they designed several other stations and buildings for the New York Central, including Yonkers, Mount Vernon West, and the New York Central building (now called the Helmsley Building). The small station formerly had a waiting and ticket room, a baggage room, and restrooms. Above the main door is a balcony with intricately carved wood, though it is fake- there is no way to access this balcony.

Just as Hartsdale and Scarsdale are a pair in architectural style, the Arts for Transit pieces that are at both stations are also a pair. Philadelphia-born artist Tom Nussbaum designed the figures at both stations, made of Cor-Ten steel and installed in 1991. Although the photo of the plaque I snapped at the station lists the name as Untitled, the Arts for Transit website refers to the piece Workers. There are twenty-one life size figures in between the station’s two tracks.

A few of the old station buildings on the Harlem have been converted to Starbucks, and I must admit I felt like a dork taking pictures of people attempting to drink their coffee. I did happen to dig up some nice pictures of the building in the eighties- pre-Starbucks, and when the ticket booth still existed.

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Tuesday Tour of the Harlem Line: Dover Plains and Mount Pleasant revisited

76 miles north of Grand Central lies a station on the Harlem Line called Dover Plains. From March of 1972, until Metro-North resurrected the stations of Tenmile River and Wassaic in July 2000, Dover Plains served as the last station on the Harlem Line. A few months ago I visited the station on a quiet Friday afternoon and spent a few minutes taking pictures. Like most of the Upper Harlem stations, Dover Plains is nestled in the quiet but picturesque Harlem Valley. The area is surrounded by grassy, rolling hills and farms, with New York’s Route 22 running along a similar route to the rails.

One of the first station panoramas I posted was from Mount Pleasant… though I wasn’t too happy with it, so I went back to the station, and got a few new panoramas. Enjoy!

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Tuesday Tour of the Harlem Line: Wakefield

This week Wakefield has the honor of being the first Harlem Line station south of White Plains I’ve featured. Before starting the Harlem Line Panorama Project, I had never ventured to any of these stations. After this weekend though, I’ve been to most of them. On the current schedule of a station a week, the tour will finally be over at the end of January. And once that is over I think I’ll do a full tour guide for whoever might be interested in seeing the Harlem Line as well… I’m planning to include info about good food, history, art (including Arts For Transit works) and nature along the way, and which stations aren’t to be missed. Anyways, back to the tour…

Traveling south, Wakefield is the first Metro-North station in the Bronx, and is the northernmost neighborhood of the city. It borders Westchester county, specifically the city of Mount Vernon. The two are both linked to the first president of the United States: George Washington. Wakefield was the name of the place where he was born, and Mount Vernon the name of the place he died. The two stations of Wakefield and Mount Vernon West are in fact very close – so close that you can see the station from the platform of the other.

At Wakefield you can make a connection to the subway, Wakefield – 241st Street is located six blocks from the station. The platform is rather small, and can only accommodate four cars. Just south of the station the New Haven Line diverges, and from the station you can see the M2s going by on the other side of the tree line. Historically Wakefield had been a place where passengers changed trains. Electric trains served south into the city, and riders going north transferred to steam trains.

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Tuesday Tour of the Harlem Line: Chappaqua

Several train stations currently operated by Metro-North are on the National Register of Historic Places, and Chappaqua is one example on the Harlem Line. The station building was built for the New York Central in 1902, and was designed by Charles Reed… a name you might be familiar with. Reed formed an architecture firm with Allen Stem, called (surprise!) Reed & Stem. That firm won the competition for the design of Grand Central Terminal. The station was restored in 2005 by Wank Adams Slavin Associates. It contains the original ticket booth, though Metro-North no longer uses it, a waiting room, and a small cafe.

Historical images of Chappaqua Station

When I started visiting stations I will admit that there were quite a few of them I was unfamiliar with, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Chappaqua, and the gorgeously restored wood in the station was quite a pleasant find. Enjoy the photos: and if you get a moment, be sure to visit this gem of a station, rich with history.

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Tuesday Tour of the Harlem Line: Harlem Valley-Wingdale

Another Tuesday, and another visit to a Harlem Line station… this time I’ve got photos from Harlem Valley-Wingdale. Remember how I said Mount Pleasant was a bit of a creepy station? It is, after all, in the middle of a bunch of cemeteries. Lots of buried dead people. Harlem Valley-Wingdale is a little creepy too… the platform is shadowed a large building, part of the former Harlem Valley State Hospital. According to my coworker (yep, the one that says crazy stuff I always tweet about), the building closest to the platform handled all the laundry for the hospital. This delightful psychiatric hospital was open from 1924 until 1994. Although much of the complex is abandoned, apparently portions are still in use as a juvenile detention center, with housing available for employees. I don’t live in the area, but my assumption would be that the local teens find the former hospital grounds an amusing spot to visit on late nights.

Originally there were two stops here for the New York Central: State Hospital and Wingdale, a half mile north. The two stops were later combined to form the current Harlem Valley-Wingdale. The station is situated in diesel territory of the upper Harlem Line, in between Appalachian Trail and Dover Plains, 69 miles from Grand Central.

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Tuesday Tour of the Harlem Line: Pleasantville

Evidence that my mind has been entirely corrupted by horrible marketers and their abysmal catch-phrases, I want to say that I was pleasantly surprised with Pleasantville station (this is one notch up from saying “Flip Out!” in an advertisement for a flipbook which I unfortunately created yesterday). Seriously though, the little station in the middle of the Harlem Line has character – a lot of which has to do with the Arts for Transit piece there. The station is easily accessible from the attractive green area in the center of the village. Part of the reason it differs from many of the other area stations is the fact that the platform is lower than the neighboring streets. As opposed to walking up a set of stairs to a vestibule above the tracks, the larger than usual vestibule and waiting area sits at street level, and you instead descend a set of stairs to the platform.

Installed in 2002, Pleasantville’s Arts for Transit piece, titled Almost Home, is the newest located on the Harlem Line. The work was a collaboration between Brooklyn-based artist Jane Greengold, and Vietnamese-born and current New York resident Kane Chanh Do. Both artists work in sculpture and installation art. Almost Home consists of twenty-two bronze chairs, sixteen of which are in the upper waiting area, and six on the lower platform level. A book also rests on a ledge in the upper part of the station, a bronze replica of a copy of the Reader’s Digest… though admittedly I would never have had any clue of what it was supposed to be, had I not researched the piece for this post. Apparently Reader’s Digest was originally printed in Pleasantville, and so the book is representative of that historical link.

Although I can’t say I’ve seen all the Arts for Transit pieces on the Harlem Line, Almost Home really is my favorite so far. Not only is it visually attractive, it is functional part of the station. Conceptually, the almost home theme is intriguing to me. As a commuter, besides my own home and work, I spend a good deal of time on the train or at the train station. At times the train station feels like a second home to me. There are times when I think some artist’s statements are complete BS, but in this case I think Do and Greengold describe their piece quite well:

In this suburb of New York City, we have re-created, in bronze, chairs likely to be found in the homes of the commuters who use the station, bringing some of the comforts of home out to meet the riders, making the station almost like home, and reminding riders that they, too, are almost home. Because the chairs look so life-like, so much like wood and upholstery fabric, they create a humorous, trompe l’oeil effect.

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Tuesday Tour of the Harlem Line: Tenmile River, with bonus: Kensico

Nestled in a lush carpet of green grass is a station on the Upper Harlem called Tenmile River. As to be expected, the name derives from a river of the same name. The station was completed and opened by Metro-North in 2000, along with Wassaic. In the New York Central and Penn Central days there was another station at this location, called State School. That station was closed in 1972, when service north of Dover Plains was discontinued. Tenmile River is the second to last station on the Harlem Line, and 78 miles from Grand Central. Similar to most Upper Harlem Line stations, Tenmile River is in a very rural area. Despite this, many of the stations find themselves close to or on the main road of Route 22 – Tenmile River seems to be the most isolated. But with the gorgeous grass and the recently built station platform, Tenmile River may be one of the more attractive stations on the Harlem Line.

As a bonus, here is a panorama of the former station Kensico. I have mentioned Kensico before, but hadn’t posted a panorama yet. I would have liked to get one at a different angle, but there were a lot of people there for a funeral.

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Tuesday Tour of the Harlem Line: Appalachian Trail

Ensconced in the woods of Pawling, NY along Route 22 lies a small wooden train platform. It is one of the two smallest stations on the Harlem Line, and unlike most other Metro-North stations, it is not meant for commuters. Appalachian Trail is a train station for hikers. Like Mount Pleasant, it is not much of a station. There are no ticket machines, and few trains stop only on weekends and holidays. The station was constructed by Metro-North in 1991, for a cost of about 10,000 dollars. As one would expect, the station is located along the approximately 2,178-mile Appalachian Trail, which extends from Georgia to Maine. For the city-dweller looking for a break, it provides a great getaway. Across Route 22 the Appalachian Trail cuts through the Pawling Nature Reserve. The Reserve boasts over 10 miles of trails for hikers of varying skill levels, and is the home for at least 77 different species of birds. Although most of the Upper Harlem stations are rather rural, if you really feel you need to get back to nature and away from city life, this is the place to do it.

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Tuesday Tour of the Harlem Line: Mount Kisco, Plus bonus: Thornwood

Last Wednesday was an absolutely beautiful day, the sun was shining bright, and it was quite warm. Instead of taking my normal route home, I opted for the scenic route. I got a coworker to give me a ride to Pleasantville station, not far from work and on his way home. From there I took a train to Chappaqua. And then after that I took a train to Mount Kisco. I photographed each of the three stations, enjoyed my time, and explored. If you happen to be like me, a person that doesn’t drive, Mount Kisco might be your cup of tea. And even if you do drive, you might still enjoy the area around the station. The old station building still stands, though there no longer is a staffed ticket window. Instead, an Italian restaurant, Via Vanti, occupies the space. There are quite a few restaurants close-by, however, and I opted for the less expensive dinner at Cosi. Hopefully I didn’t smell too bad. By the time I got there after wandering and taking photos at the three stations I was just a tad sweaty. But all in all it was a great photographic adventure, and I discovered each of the stations had something intriguing about them. Mount Kisco may have been my favorite out of the bunch, which may be why I chose to post those photos first. Either way, chalk another station up as completed for the Panorama Project!

As an added bonus, I have photos from a former train station: Thornwood. As part of the Panorama Project my goal is to also photograph former stations, though I am undecided whether they are deserving of their own posts as part of the “tour”. Instead I think the few former stations will be featured as “bonuses”.

Thornwood is located in between the current stations of Hawthorne and Pleasantville. The station was closed in the early 80’s when the Harlem Line was electrified past North White Plains. It was not an incredible loss, as anyone who used the station had the option to use Hawthorne, approximately one mile south, or Pleasantville, approximately one mile north. The sign on the front of the old station building says it is now occupied by the Thornwood-Hawthorne Chamber of Commerce. I didn’t see anyone inside the building, though it is possible they were hiding behind the windows and laughing at me as a took pictures.

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