Ah, Waterbury… also known as the Brass City, or most affectionately the “Dirty Water.” Yes, Waterbury and I have a history, we go way back. Many years ago I attended UConn’s Waterbury Branch, and it was there I acquired my first job as a slave to the computer. From there I just went downhill, into the realm of phone line computer technical support (“my ethernet cord has a virus!”), and fixing college students’ virus-riddled computers after they downloaded copious amounts of pornography. But back then at Waterbury I was just a lowly computer monitor, though I would occasionally get called on various errands. One of those errands was to head down to the library and check out a computer that wouldn’t start. Now the campus was right in the middle of the city of Waterbury, and we’d frequently have crazy people just walk right in. Apparently one of them decided to walk right into the library and cannibalize the inside of one of their computers. It was no wonder why their computer didn’t start – anything easily accessible after whoever it was managed to get the case open was taken. There was no memory, they even managed to get the hard drive. I’m not completely crazy for telling this story – because I sort of hear the parking lot at the Metro-North station is pretty similar. If a random stranger off the streets of Waterbury had no qualms about stealing the innards of a computer where the librarian was right around the corner, they really will think nothing of theiving your car, especially when they know you’re on a train heading in the opposite direction. Apparently the situation has gotten bad enough for commuters to say they are boycotting Waterbury station. Plus, I haven’t seen a station as full of these signs as Waterbury:

I’ll try to not insult Waterbury too much (every time I go there I see another store has gone out of business!), but instead bring up an observation. Even if you’ve never actually been to Waterbury, even if you’ve just driven through, there are probably two landmarks that you are familiar with. The first is the big cross up on the hill, the mostly-abandoned (for the most part, except for brave urban explorers, and lawbreakers) Holy Land. The most iconic landmark in Waterbury, however, is the clock tower. Amusingly, most people don’t even realize the clock tower is part of what used to be Waterbury’s railroad station. The tower itself was a late addition, after construction on the structure had already commenced. Waterbury’s tower is modeled after Italy’s Torre del Mangia, and was designed by architecture powerhouse McKim, Mead and White. Today the building serves as the home of the Waterbury Republican-American newspaper, a wonderful example of iconic rail architecture being repurposed and given a second life (I’m not going to go too in depth here, as I’m hoping to arrange a tour of the place and devote an entire future post to the old station itself).

Alongside the old building is Metro-North’s small Waterbury station, which is, as you could well deduce, the terminus of the New Haven Line’s Waterbury Branch. At 87.5 miles from Grand Central, Waterbury is the furthest Metro-North station from the city (excluding the west of Hudson service). Although there are at least ten tracks by the station, few of those are actually used – a reminder of Waterbury’s status as a once-busy rail hub (in its heyday, Waterbury Union Station would receive more than 50 passenger trains per day). Today on a normal weekday the station has just eight trains departing for Grand Central, running approximately every three hours.


5 Responses

  1. I live a whole 20 minutes north of the Waterbury station up Route 8. You could not pay me to take a train out of there though.

    Aside from the sketchball lot, there’s never any service at times that are convenient, most of the time I drive the hour to Danbury and go from there, unless I have to return at some ungodly hour, in which case we usually go to New Haven.

  2. Waterbury-area resident who works in new york says:

    Sadly, I usually drive all the way to Golden’s Bridge to take the train to NYC because of convenient parking and the ticket-purchasing machine there … I WISH I could take a train closer to home without having to GET OFF and WAIT FOR ANOTHER TRAIN in Bridgeport. I don’t understand why this is such a difficult thing for our state lawmakers to figure out, seeing as how THERE ARE TRAIN TRACKS ALREADY ATTACHED TO THE GROUND that connect Waterbury to New York City. Also, I make more money working in New York than I do in Connecticut but I spent 99 percent of my income in Connecticut. Which should be another argument for making it easier to get Waterbury-area residents to New York.

    • Emily says:

      I know exactly what you mean. I grew up in Southbury, so I was pretty much halfway in between Waterbury and Danbury. But never did I ever take the train from either place – it was always far more convenient to go to Brewster. After graduating school, I was again living in Southbury and made the morning trek to Brewster and the train there. It was certainly not an easy thing, so I have to give you credit. But it is unfortunate it has to be that way.

      If you don’t mind me asking, is there any reason why Goldens Bridge easier than Southeast? Or have you managed to get a parking pass for GB?

    • Heather says:

      Honestly, it all boils down to ridership. If they truly wanted to, they could slap a Genesis P32AC-DM on the train and run a direct train to GCT if they really wanted to, just like they do for a handful of rush hour service to Danbury…but the vast majority of people riding the Waterbury branch probably don’t need service to GCT, aside from the fact it would be a 2.5 hour ride, at least. However, if they can’t justify TVM’s on the line, I can see why the CT DOT and MNR don’t want to foot the bill for direct service.

      Now having rode the Waterbury line from Naugatuck to Bridgeport and back (Still can’t pay me enough to leave my car parked in the Waterbury station lot) I can’t say I would ride direct to GCT just because it would be such a long ride – and the people I was stuck with between Bridgeport and Naugatuck thought they were the next Lil Wayne or something freestyling to tinny rap blaring out of their phones. Now having taken the train from Brewster, even the 2 hour Danbury branch ride is annoyingly long for me.

      Honestly, I think there’s more of a chance of them extending service to Torrington (ha, still doubtful) than direct Grand Central service, unfortunately.

  3. Kevin says:

    10 years later and nothing has changed (except a few more stores in Waterbury have gone out of business).

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