Tuesday Tour of the Hudson Line: Highbridge

If there was one station that missed in our three year long tour of Metro-North’s system, it would likely be Highbridge. Although in the past it was a station open to public access, today it is an employee-only station, complete with a small platform and overpass, and many of the same amenities one would expect from a regular Metro-North station. I figured today might be a good day to check out this station that is normally off limits to the public, especially since High Bridge has been in the news recently.

The famous High Bridge
The famous High Bridge, New York City’s oldest bridge.

The facility here is, of course, named after the Aqueduct Bridge, or better known as High Bridge. The bridge’s roots stretch all the way back to 1848, making it the oldest bridge in New York City. As one would gather from its original name, the bridge was an important part of the Croton Aqueduct, supplying New York City with fresh water. Originally a stone arch bridge, five of the arches were replaced with one steel arch in 1928 to allow easier water navigation under the bridge. By this time the bridge was largely obsolete, and no longer carrying water – however it did serve a secondary purpose as a pedestrian crossing. That crossing was closed in the 1970s, until it was recently reopened last month after many years of restoration. From the newly reopened pedestrian crossing, one can get quite a good view of what is now a Metro-North railroad facility below.

  
 
  
   
  

The view from the newly reopened High Bridge

Today, Highbridge is where you will find Metro-North’s Car Appearance Facility, where both interior and exteriors of train cars are cleaned. Highbridge is one of three Metro-North washing facilities, and it possesses state-of-the-art brushes and sprayers that use 280 gallons of water per minute – 200 gallons of which are recycled, making it more environmentally friendly. 20 cars can be cleaned every shift, and each car gets this full treatment about every 60 days. The washing is completely computerized, and does not require an operator.

Highbridge Car Wash
Heading into the Highbridge car wash. Photo by Paul Pesante.

In addition to the appearance facility, Highbridge provides storage tracks for trains that is close to the city. While in days gone past, the New York Central used Mott Haven for this purpose, most of Mott Haven’s tracks were ripped out long ago. Highbridge has stepped up to fill that gap, which will especially be needed due to the East Side Access project, where Metro-North needed to give up quite a few storage tracks in Grand Central in order to bring Long Island Rail Road trains to the east side.

The original passenger station at High Bridge
The original passenger station at High Bridge in 1961. Photo by Ed Davis, Sr., from the collection of David Pirmann. By the 1970s the station had some scheduled trains, while on others it was listed as a flag stop.

Other noteworthy details about Highbridge are that you can see some old remnants of the New York Central’s Putnam Division here – Highbridge was a point of transfer between the Hudson and Putnam Divisions. It is also where the Oak Point Link joins with the Hudson Line, permitting freights to avoid the bottleneck of Mott Haven to get to Oak Point Yard.

The evening CSX garbage train waits at Highbridge after coming on to the Hudson Line from the Oak Point Link
The evening CSX garbage train waits at Highbridge after coming on to the Hudson Line from the Oak Point Link

Anyway, let’s take a quick behind-the-scenes glimpse of Metro-North’s official employee station at Highbridge… the only place we neglected on our original tour of the Hudson Line.

 
  
 
  
 
  

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Tuesday Tour of the Harlem Line: Grand Central

Last week I finished up the Tour of the Harlem Line with the final station, Botanical Garden. But there was one more station that I wanted to feature – a station that we all know, and a wonderful landmark of the city of New York. That station is of course, Grand Central Terminal. It is a bit of coincidence that I’ve chosen this day to present Grand Central – for it was on this day, February 1, 1913, that the final preparations for the opening of the station were made… with the official opening to the public at midnight.

Grand Central has been mentioned this blog quite a few times before, from the 1902 train wreck that led to electric service and paved the way for the station, to the 1910’s advertisements highlighting its opening. I’ve also discussed the gorgeous sculpture on the front façade, the role Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis played in saving Grand Central, and a little bit about the Vanderbilts, and how the station may be like an architectural embodiment of that family. Despite all of that, there is always so much more I could write about Grand Central, but that is something for another day. Today I want to take you on a photographic tour of the wonders of this place…

If there is one constant about Grand Central, it is certainly my awe every time I enter the main concourse. I have certainly been there a million times, but I am still always amazed. There is a little part of me that is envious of all the Metro-North employees that are employed in this beautiful building, and see it every day. I’ve taken photos here a million times as well, and I don’t think I am ever pleased with any of them, for they never seem to do the place any justice. Beauty can be found throughout – not just in the concourse or on the front façade. The little details always captivate me, from the stylized GCT monogram, to the little sculptural acorns that can be found all over – a symbol of the Vanderbilt family.

I hope you all enjoy this final stop on my tour of the Harlem Line. I had a great time not just photographing, but exploring. I tried to do that at Grand Central as well – not just photographing the main concourse, but to explore and see the areas that aren’t as often captured, like the lower level’s dining concourse. The tables that you will find down there are a wonderful little addition, covered in old rail ephemera. There are plenty of other little details like this throughout, which I love. Most of the photos were taken in public areas, except for a few of the main concourse which were taken on the second and sixth floors.

For now we shall bid the Tuesday Tour posts adieu, but don’t be too sad, when the spring arrives I will be heading out to more stations on another line. By this time next year I might not be known solely as the Cat Girl, but as the crazy nutjob that has been to, and photographed, every Metro-North station!

 
   
 
   
 
   
 
   
 
   
 
   
 
   
 
   
 
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
 

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