Norman Rockwell’s version of Crestwood
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.
I was hoping to read (and see) how your Harlem Line experience was impacted by the Blizzard of 2010.
Haha, there was no experience. I got a ride from a coworker this morning. I was tweeting about it though. I got kicked off the train right after boarding, because the train was so full it was going to go express to Grand Central, and skipping all the stops from Katonah to White Plains. Since I needed to get to White Plains, the train wasn’t going to help me much. And the next one was supposed to be in an hour, and who knew if that would actually make the stop. I just walked home and called my coworker from Pawling. He picked me up, and I actually got to work on time.
The former ticket office above the tracks has been converted into a small coffee shop. I don’t know it’s hours but it’s open each morning on my way to work.
As a lifetime local resident, I appreciate the reference and reminiscences of Crestwood Station. Fond memories of walking to the station to meet the train and walk my dad to come home from work back in the ’60s. And watching for those powerful gray locomotives with bell (yes, a real live bell) blaring as the soutbound train rounded the curve toward the station. No doubt if Rockwell were alive today, he’d wouldn’t dare dream of featuring the station given its plight. It’s disgraceful that Metro North and the powers that be in the host communities have allowed the station and surrounding area to decay.
Yes, it is very unfortunate to see these places decay. Though at the same time, it might be better than the place being demolished altogether. That has happened at too many places. We can just hope that someone might come along and fix it up.
In my tenure as an Agent-Operator on the Harlem, Crestwood had a small CTC (centralized traffic control) machine that controlled signals and switches for the center passing track. I suppose that was one of the first things to go as outlying locations were centralized into New York City.