Tuesday Tour of the Hudson Line: Riverdale

Welcome to Riverdale, the site of today’s Tuesday Tour, and a lovely example of a Hudson Line station. Though Riverdale is in the Bronx, the area around the station looks more like the suburbs than the city. Beautiful views of the Hudson River and the Palisades surround you here – and not to offend anyone from the Bronx, the view here at Riverdale is probably not what comes to your mind when you think of “the Bronx.”

Metro-North’s station at Riverdale is located 13 miles from Grand Central. The facilities consist of an overpass with a few ticket vending machines, and two side platforms. Today, Riverdale is the northernmost station in the Bronx on the Hudson Line (Mount St. Vincent station was located north of Riverdale, but was closed many years ago). Although the station has some parking, a good amount of people use the Hudson Rail Link to get to the station.

According to architects Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge’s archives, they designed a station for the Hudson River Railroad here in 1889, though I can’t seem to find any photos or mentions of it later on.


Passing through Riverdale, 1971. [image source]

Right alongside Riverdale station is a small park that parallels both the tracks and the Hudson River. Although dedicated by Michael Bloomberg in 2005, and featured in the New York Times a year after, the park seems largely forgotten. The official name of the place is the “Riverdale Waterfront Promenade and Fishing Access Site”, but you might as well call it a big stinky mess. Access to the small park is gained on the southbound platform, where you descend a set of stairs and cross over a rail siding to reach the riverfront. It would likely be a nice place, if not for the stinky fish guts strewn about the sidewalk, and the overfilled trash bins that probably hadn’t been emptied in weeks. Without the trash, the park really would be a nice place to just sit and watch the river.


Arts for Transit at Riverdale – when it wasn’t covered up with weeds. [image source]

Also at Riverdale station is one of the most unphotogenic Arts for Transit pieces – and it’s certainly not the fault of the artwork. Rising and Setting, by Dennis Oppenheim is a colorful steel sculpture, unfortunately overtaken with weeds. Metro-North desperately needs to send someone over there with a weedwhacker. As much as I love the Arts for Transit program, I wonder at times if everybody fully thinks these things through. Putting art in locked stations is pointless, and although pretty horrible, North White Plains‘ art has been desperate for a paint job for years. All of these wonderful installations certainly need to be maintained – and at places like Riverdale (and Wassaic, where the art is also being obscured by growth) sending somebody to trim some plants seems like a pretty easy fix!

Though the area doesn’t get any bonus points for the stinky park, and few for the art, I really don’t mean to be insulting to Riverdale. The station is quite nice, and from the overpass, the view of the river and the Palisades is quite wonderful. Even from the platforms you can see large ships and tiny pleasure-crafts moving up and down the river. Wave Hill, the 28-acre public garden, is a worthwhile attraction not far from the station. They even operate a free shuttle to public transit riders, so it is definitely worth checking out if you’re ever in the area.

 
   
  
 
 
   
 
  
 
  
 
   
 

Read More

Tuesday Tour of the Hudson Line: Ossining


Artifacts from Ossining: Postcard, a 1984 ticket stamped at Ossining, and an 1851 Hudson River Railroad timetable that lists the station as “Sing Sing.”

Welcome to Ossining – probably one of the most widely known locales on the Hudson Line. Unfortunately, it is one of the most well known for a particular landmark located here:


Everybody knows Sing Sing – Late 1800’s stereoview of the railroad tracks running through the prison.

Yes, Ossining is the home of Sing Sing prison, or as it is known now, the Sing Sing Correctional Facility. Dating back to the early 1800’s, the prison has been a longtime feature on the Hudson River, as well as along the railroad. The Hudson River Railroad tracks bisected the prison, and the tracks still pass through there today.


Photo of the railroad tracks going through Sing Sing Prison, circa 1920.

Even those that are not entirely familiar with Sing Sing have probably heard the phrase “sent up the river,” meaning sending someone to prison. Sing Sing is the origin of that phrase – as it is located right up the river from New York City. Interestingly enough, some prisoners weren’t quite sent up the river – they were sent up the railroad tracks. Since the prison was conveniently located right on the railroad, some prisoners were actually transported from the city via train.


Their nice attire belies their destination – the four seated men on the right are being “sent up the river” by train, circa 1932. Those four were set to die in Sing Sing’s electric chair for killing a police officer. In 1933 the men were granted a new trial, and I can’t find any record of them actually being executed. Assumedly prisoners were not carried on the same train/in the same car as normal passengers.

Ossining’s railroad station is located just north of the prison complex, and is about 30 miles from Grand Central. The station currently on site was built in 1914 in the Renaissance Revival style, replacing the original that was built in 1851. While the original station was at grade, the new station was built above the tracks. Main Street was also modified so it too would cross above the tracks, eliminating the grade crossing.

Just east of the station is the Hudson River, from which a ferry to Haverstraw operates.


The original station at Ossining, circa 1912. Photo from the Ossining Historical Society.

   

Various views of Ossining. Photos from the Ossining Historical Society.

Like many stations along the Hudson Line, Ossining has recently been fixed up by Metro-North. Some of the work at the station included seven brand new staircases, and four new elevators. Unfortunately during my visit (Ossining was actually the first station I photographed on the Hudson Line!) the station building was closed. The ticket windows are no longer manned, and Metro-North is looking for a tenant to occupy the space in the old station.


More postcards from Sing Sing, and Ossining station.

Before I wrap this up, one last detail to note about Ossining is that it also has some art. In 2010 a faceted-glass piece by abstract expressionist artist Robert Goodnough was installed through the Arts for Transit program. The piece, titled K—M—G, was originally created as a paper collage, and then translated into the finished glass. The work is comprised of 16 windows, all located in the station’s north overpass. All in all, it makes an attractive addition to a nice Hudson Line station.

  
  
   
  
 
  
 
  
   
  
 
 
 

Read More

Tuesday Tour of the Hudson Line: Spuyten Duyvil


View of the railroad tracks near Spuyten Duyvil in 1890.

When coming up with superlatives for the Hudson Line, people generally cite it as Metro-North’s most attractive line. I, on the other hand, like to think of it as the most frequently misspelled. It is the Hudson Line that has stations like “Phillip’s Manor” and “Pokipse,” and, of course, the one that takes the cake – “Spitendivel.” Today’s tour takes us to the (correctly spelled) Spuyten Duyvil, a station about 10 miles north of Grand Central Terminal in the Bronx. Considering that it is a station that is frequently misspelled, as well as rather attractive, it seems to be a good representation of the Hudson Line.


Stock certificate for the Spuyten Duyvil and Port Morris Railroad Company

As I am sure you could gather, the name Spuyten Duyvil is clearly not from the English language. The name derives from the Dutch Spuitende Duivel, which means spouting devil. First bestowed on the creek nearby, the name was later adopted for the train station as well. Historically, there was also a railroad that bore the name – the Spuyten Duyvil and Port Morris Railroad Company. It was leased to, and later incorporated into the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad, which allowed that road to connect with the Harlem Railroad at Mott Haven.


Spuyten Duyvil station in 1958.


1975 view near Spuyten Duyvil.

I don’t think there is really too much else to say about Spuyten Duyvil, other than the fact that it really is an interesting spot. Located right on the water, you can watch the Circle Line and other boats sail up and down the river. Right above your head is the Henry Hudson bridge, which provides an interesting vista very much unlike any other Metro-North station. Just north of the station is an old rail tower that is no longer used, which is visible in a few of my photos from the station. Also north of the station is where Amtrak diverges, and the tracks cross the river via a swing bridge which is visible from the platform. The swing bridge is definitely interesting to watch, it opens and closes somewhat frequently to accommodate around 30 trains that pass over it every day.


Aerial view of Spuyten Duyvil. The Henry Hudson bridge as well as Amtrak’s Spuyten Duyvil swing bridge are visible. If you look closely you can just make out the Metro-North platform under the bridge.

Anyways, that is all I’ve got for today and Spuyten Duyvil. I must insert a shameless plug here – if you like the historical photos I post along with these Tuesday Tours, you should totally like us on Facebook (if you haven’t already). I’ve been posting a bunch of old photos on there, and I promise something pretty interesting will be happening over there within the next month (shh, it’s a surprise!).

 
   
 
  
 
 
 
  
 
 
  
 
 
  
 
 

Read More