Friday, November 11, 2011

Listen to history passing by

Every night ClockTowerTenants are treated to the mournful wail of a passing freight train. It’s the CSX recycling pick-up and it comes through right where Lincoln Avenue meets the Harlem River, 100 meters from our door.

Back around 1903 or so, the Central Railroad of New Jersey shared a northern Harlem terminus in Manhattan. Their line ended there and all the trains had to turn around and head back south again. But the railroad wanted a terminus of their own.
1938 (top)
So in 1905 they purchased the lease for the big lot diagonally from our front door, (shown above) and built a Mott Haven terminal where the OZ Moving company now parks their trucks. They framed a bulkhead on the river and then constructed a circular train shed for unloading trains and turning them around. It was right across from the Bruckner Bar and it opened August 16th, 1907.

Inspiring vintage photographs are on the web so I set out on my bicycle to try and find the same locations to take current photographs and then match them to the old ones.
1957 (top)
See the white train shed on the left in front of the ClockTower? Now it’s gone, replaced by the OZ parking garage.
The bridges have been replaced too, and they look a little different now. But the “BronxLoft” building across the way is unmistakable.
1954 (top)
I climbed to the roof of the piano repair building diagonally from the Bruckner Bar to get this shot over the bridge roadway. It’s not exact but it’s close, and you can see the old bridge roadway in the lower right of the vintage shot.
1944 (top)
The Mitchell House projects weren’t built until 1966, but much else is remarkably similar to circa 1950.
1950 (top)

In 1959 the Central Railroad of New Jersey reduced this Mott Haven yard to just three tracks. The other tracks and the round freight shed were demolished. They ceased operations entirely at the Bronx Terminal facility on November 27th, 1961.
Too bad. Tonight, really listen.


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