Although it is the Hudson Line more often cited for its scenery, you do pass by quite a few interesting locales taking a train down the Harlem Line. From the farmlands of Dutchess county, to the reservoirs that serve the city’s need for water, there is much to see on the Harlem Line – and I hope that I’ve been able to show some of this on my weekly tour of the various stations. Although it certainly isn’t the most noteworthy, the line does also pass by quite a few cemeteries. In the case of Kensico Cemetery, the railroad probably played a part in its growth. Kensico may no longer have a station dedicated to it, but at one time the cemetery even had its own rail car to serve the more affluent of folk heading to bury their loved ones.
Resting place of Gail Borden, at the Woodlawn Cemetery
Another cemetery I haven’t yet mentioned on here, however, is the Woodlawn Cemetery. Woodlawn station itself is located in the Bronx, a bit shy of 12 miles from Grand Central. It is just north of Woodlawn that the New Haven Line diverges from the Harlem. Although the station isn’t expressly for the cemetery, as Kensico was, it is very close to it. For those interested in seeing the final resting place of quite a few historical figures, Woodlawn would definitely be an interesting place to check out. Not to mention the wide array of different styles of memorial (someone please erect a statue of me riding a liger upon my death?). Some of the memorials were designed by renowned architects, such as Cass Gilbert (who designed New Haven’s Union Station), and McKim, Mead, and White (who designed the original Pennsylvania Station). Noteworthy musicians WC Handy, Miles Davis, and Duke Ellington are all buried at Woodlawn, as well as businessmen whose names most people recognize: RH Macy, JC Penney, and Frank Woolworth. And many of us would also recognize the names of Joseph Pulitzer, Fiorello LaGuardia, Simon Guggenheim, and Augustus Juilliard, also buried in the cemetery. Of course my favorite “resident” is Gail Borden, the eccentric inventor of condensed milk, who was also a Harlem Division rider (a post about him on here is quite overdue, but will be coming soon, I swear!)
Anyways, here are some shots of the Harlem Line station at Woodlawn:
Just north of that station is where the Bronx River Parkway crosses over the tracks and where, at 6:30 am on May 16, a northbound car containing two off-duty NYPD officers (in the front seat) and four women (in the back seat) failed to make the turn. The two officers were killed and the four women were seriously injured. If you’re ever on that stretch of roadway, slow down. The turn is poorly banked and sharper than you expect. Better yet, take the train.
Growing up in the Bronx in the 60′s one of my favorite pasttimes was to go train watching at Woodlawn Station with my Dad. This was the point were the New Haven locomotives would be powered by the third rail. I always thought (and still do) they had one of the best paint schemes of all railroads. On
E. 233rd Street ((W/B above the railroad tracks) there was a huge building with a ticket office (similar to the one at Fordham) that provided access to the stone stairs that you see on the downtown side. This building burned down to arson during the 70′s as the neighborhood started to change. There was a coal yard at the north end of the south bound platform (where I used to get coal for my model train cars). On the north side platform there was a huge freight elevator that was used to transport coffins with the deceased and their bereaving relatives streetside for transportation and burial in Woodlawn cemetery. The station platforms were built on wooden planks that were ground level with the tracks and S/B extended to the bridge over the underpass for the S/B entrance to the BRP. Any more facts? Just write back!