The Railroad’s Raucous Arrival. White Plains: Part 1 Trains History

Amid loud booms of celebratory artillery fire and the rousing tunes of a brass band, hundreds of onlookers jockeyed for a spot alongside gleaming rails, cheering and popping champagne corks. The crowd’s cries rose to a crescendo as the mighty iron horse cantered round the last curve and roared into full view, steam billowing behind her. The day was Saturday, October 26th, 1844, and at long last—thirteen years for the rails, nearly three hours for the train—the New York and Harlem Railroad had reached White Plains. The new station to which the train had arrived was a simple wooden affair,...

Read more »

The New York & Harlem Railroad Turns 190—Images From the Early Years History Photos

Today we are wishing the New York and Harlem Railroad—New York City’s first railroad—a very happy 190th birthday. On this day in 1831, the railroad was chartered to build from 23rd Street to the Harlem River. Ground was broken later on that year on October 11, in a rocky section of Murray Hill, around 32nd and Fourth Avenue. After a ceremonial rock boring, railroad president John Mason blasted a whistle thirteen times and delivered a rousing speech, celebrated with cheering from the crowd, and drinks of sparkling champagne. Although so long ago, in some respects we today are in a...

Read more »

SmartCat Sundays: The New York & Harlem’s Street Railway History

When first conceived, the New York & Harlem Railroad was intended to do just what its name implied – connect lower Manhattan to Harlem. The original charter was granted by the New York State Legislature on April 25th, 1831, authorizing a single or double tracked road from 23rd Street to any point on the Harlem River between Third and Eighth Avenues (Fourth Avenue – later renamed Park – was the route ultimately chosen). Less than a year later, that mandate was expanded to allow construction as far south as 14th Street, and was expanded several more times to ultimately allow...

Read more »

SmartCat Sundays: Milk on the Harlem Division History

Milk has long been a staple of the American diet, and since the New York and Harlem Railroad was founded up until the 1950s, it was also a staple commodity carried by rail. Early in New York City’s history, dairy cows were kept and milked in the city proper near distilleries. Often sick cows were kept in cramped conditions, and fed the byproducts of whiskey making – resulting in a blue tinted “milk” that was lacking in cream content and dangerous to drink. Unscrupulous businessmen used additives – including water, sugar, molasses, egg, and even plaster of paris – to...

Read more »

Remembering Lou Grogan, “The Coming of the New York & Harlem Railroad” Author Observations

It is with great sadness that I must report that Louis V. Grogan has passed on. Laid to rest yesterday morning (along with a copy of his beloved book) in his long-time home of Pawling, New York, Grogan was 88 years old. Lou’s interest in railroads began at an early age, as many of his family members found employ in that industry. His love affair with the Harlem comes partially due to his longtime residence along its tracks, but also due to fond childhood memories of using the smooth wood floors of the long-gone Philmont station as an impromptu skating...

Read more »

The Lost Train Station of the Bronx – 138th Street, Mott Haven History Photos

If there seems to be one constant with we humans, it is that we spend much time tearing down vestiges of our past to make room for the supposed future. We build bigger, taller, and seek the more modern, or the more profitable. Many venerable buildings have met the wrecking ball, and although some are well remembered, such as New York’s Pennsylvania Station, others are largely forgotten. One such forgotten New York City gem is the New York Central’s 138th Street station. Upon construction it was considered one of New York City’s most notable examples of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture. Featuring...

Read more »