Tuesday Tour of the Harlem Line: Hawthorne

Every morning I start out my day taking Metro-North down to White Plains. Now one would probably assume that White Plains is the closest train station to my work, but the fact is that it is not. Mount Pleasant is actually the closest, but as it isn’t a regular stop, the closest train station would be Hawthorne. The place I work for has a shuttle bus that goes to and from White Plains though, so it is easier for me. But there are the occasional times where I end up going to Hawthorne or Valhalla, like when I leave work early and such. So although I am not a regular rider from the station, I am a bit more familiar with it than many of the other stations I’ve visited on the tour. I’ve seen it on the sunny days, and even on the snowy days. I am always curious about the changes going on at the station, such as the coffee shop that is supposed to be arriving at some point in the station building. And I was rather excited when the flowers arrived, along with the new clock in front of the station (which in my photos below had yet to be revealed).

Original Hawthorne station, circa 1900. Note the sign on the front which lists the distance in miles to each end of the railroad, in Chatham on one end and in New York City at the other. A similar sign still exists at Mount Kisco.

When the New York & Harlem Railroad first began making stops here in the 1840’s, the station was named Unionville. If the current name of Hawthorne evokes the memory of an American author, you are certainly on the right track (no pun intended). In 1901 Unionville became Hawthorne, honoring Rose Hawthorne Lathrop, daughter of author Nathaniel Hawthorne. Rose became a nun and was known as Mother Mary Alphonsa, founder of a home for those suffering from incurable cancers.

Below are some of the photos I took in Hawthorne at my last visit (which was sometime around July). The clock had recently arrived, the sky was an amazing shade of blue, and the flowers were blooming. In fact I think one of my favorite photos that day was the one of the flower. Although many of the stations I’ve visited I may never go to again, I’ll be checking up on Hawthorne in the future, as I’m eagerly awaiting the new coffee shop… and I’ll probably have to do a before and after of the little station building.


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White Plains, Level 8, My new favorite place

Despite the fact that I started this blog to talk about all the crazy people I see on the train, I don’t really do it all that often anymore. But that is not to say I still don’t see crazy people. The coat guy is still around in White Plains, sporting his new favorite accessory: a big red cowboy hat. I rode in this morning with a skinny guy that dreams of being a bodybuilder. He had about ten bags, along with a few magazines that had photos of greased up men with muscles so enormous they must be taking steroids. The seat next to him he used as a table, as he buttered his bagel and mixed up his protein shake with the cup of milk he purchased from Starbucks. Bag Lady still rides the shuttle bus, as does the whiny girl that moans in some foreign language on her cell the entire ride. Yesterday I had to sit through the entire shuttle ride listening to her whine – she does not talk, she whines – and she continued to do so in the waiting room of the train station. I couldn’t stand to hear it anymore, so I went exploring.

There aren’t too many places in the White Plains train station I’ve never been. But I figured, why the hell not, I’ll go to the top of the parking garage. Up at the 8th level you can look down at the city of White Plains, listen to the rumble of the diesel engines as they head to Wassaic, and hear the whine of the M7 as it brakes and stops. And besides all the bits of trash (used condoms, eew) it is actually kinda nice up there. And quite peaceful, since I never seem to see anybody up there. Anyways, here are some photos of the view, morning and evening.

You know, the only thing I’m afraid of now is that someone is going to see me up there looking down and think I want to jump. Thats the last thing I need – cops coming after me. With all the stories I hear about photographers getting arrested and such for taking pictures, I really have a fear of the police, and I don’t trust them one bit.

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The Attempted Hijacking of Bus 702

This morning marked the arrival of our new shuttle bus. Within minutes of waiting, however, it seemed as though we were about to get hijacked by a masked man. Upon further scrutiny it seemed as though we were mistaken: it was just another passenger waiting out in the bitter cold for a bus that was going to be late. Typical.

Though the new bus is nice, I must admit. It turns out that the robot man is not our driver, it is some other guy. And we thought the robot drove slow, this as yet un-nicknamed fellow is even slower. Even poor bag lady missed her train (boo hoo). Just the part that the bus no longer picks us up in front of the train station isn’t the most fun. At least there you could wait in the vestibule, which is at times warmer even than the waiting room. Now we get picked up across the street by the Greyhound stop, and thus have no warm place to wait. (and now I deserve a good sarcastic boo hoo for myself).

Another side effect of the cold weather is that the pigeons begin to sneak inside the train station. I had been wondering where they were for a month or so now. Most people think pigeons are dumb, but they have to have some smarts to know they’d rather be inside than out in the cold, and practice amusing methods of getting in. I hadn’t seen any of them inside until today. A pigeon tore through the upstairs waiting room earlier this evening, flying over the people waiting for their (late) trains. Just in general freaking people out. Terrorizing the train riders, though today nobody ran off screaming. One of these times I need to capture that on video.

After writing all of this, it seems that everything is pretty normal over in White Plains. But on the home front, Goldens Bridge, it seems that everything is not. Here we don’t have pigeons, but people terrorizing the station. I wouldn’t be surprised if it is the obnoxious area skater kids, drunk on a weekend with nothing else better to do. They’re probably the ones to blame for the graffiti I mentioned before (and some new graffiti that appeared this afternoon), but maybe not for the weekend’s escapade of kicking in all the glass panels on all the doors of the south side vestibule. Maybe it was creepy, perpetually drunk Santa Claus. Who knows? Though, uhh, Metro-North? I can live with the fact that you never wash the windows. I suppose I will live, albeit a little frustrated, when you don’t clean up the graffiti. But umm… will you at least fix the glass? Is this train station even safe? Should I be carrying mace around on my keychain?

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