Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Hellos and Goodbyes

Happy belated Memorial day everyone!

The Advent of the Railroad in New York City
Imagine Park Avenue from 45th to 49th Street as a rail yard -- a corridor of smoke and cinders extending uptown from 49th Street. Think of breweries and factories operating where the Waldorf-Astoria, Lever House and the Seagram Building now stand. Picture to the east a district of tenements, warehouses, and slaughterhouses. In place of the United Nations and Tudor City, the squatters' shacks of Dutch Hill, inhabited by paupers, criminal gangs, and a herd of goats. It is hard to conceive that this cityscape ever existed, let alone that it was the environment in which Grand Central Terminal took shape less than one hundred years ago.
While Grand Central Terminal stands today as one of New York City's most famous landmarks, it was by no means the first railroad station in New York City. In fact, the current structure is neither the first to claim the name "Grand Central" or to occupy the present location at 42nd and Park. Yet, the story of Grand Central Terminal allows one to gaze back and observe much of the history of the City of New York, and to witness the growth and expansion of a vibrant metropolis reflected in an unrivaled monument of civic architecture.

The first rail line into New York City -- the New York and Harlem Railroad -- was formed in 1831 and began service to a terminus at Fourth Avenue and 23rd Street the following year. Over the next five years, the railroad constructed a station, offices, and stables along Fourth Avenue, 26th and 27th Streets; through subsequent expansion and reconstruction, the New York and Harlem Railroad Station would come to occupy the entire block bounded by Fourth and Madison Avenues and 26th and 27th Streets. (In 1871, P.T. Barnum purchased the New York and Harlem Railroad Station and converted it into Madison Square Garden -- the first of several structures to bear that historic name).

During the late 1840's, additional railroad service into New York -- notably The New York and New Haven Railroad and The Hudson River Railroad -- precipitated the advent of variety of terminals, depots, freight houses and passenger stations throughout the city. Horse-drawn extensions merged with steam-powered lines in a haphazard network of railways that was plagued by complaints about noise, pollution, traffic, and chronic accidents. By 1858, steam locomotives had been progressively banned from crowded areas and were no longer in service below 42nd Street, giving rise to the need for a new terminal.

These were all taken in 1953 by Boris Klapwald in the Grand Central terminal. Photo credit
Grand Central History found here

8 comments:

  1. These are fantastic. Love the lighting. Looking forward to my first trip to NY sometime later this year!

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  2. these are great!!! thank you for posting them!

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  3. Wow, those photos are amazing! What a great post.

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  4. I would love to visit NY I am so jealous of you.

    Thank you everyone

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  5. I love this post. I had no idea there was such a history! Also- the photos compliment the post perfectly. I cannot tell you how lovely this blog was to read :0)

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