Discussion relating to the operations of MTA MetroNorth Railroad including west of Hudson operations and discussion of CtDOT sponsored rail operations such as Shore Line East and the Springfield to New Haven Hartford Line

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, nomis, FL9AC, Jeff Smith

  by SubwayTim
Although I know that 125th Street runs through the heart of Harlem, what is the area around Metro-North's 125th Street Station like during the day? Would it be safe to photograph trains on the Park Ave. viaduct from the street? Would I stand a very good risk of getting held up, or possibly even worse?
Sometime in the spring I'm planning to visit some of my friends in New York, and at the same time, do a little railfanning on Metro-North. Just as I did back in September, I will most likely be driving to New York, and bringing my dog (which is why I posted the other day about taking dogs on Metro-North). Maybe if I have my dog with me, I'll be a little safer if I railfan in some of the more "seedy" neighborhoods. Anyway, thanks in advance for any info.
  by Tom Curtin
This area during the day --- particularly a weekday --- should be perfectly safe to photograph.

  by Kurt
During the day the area is safe, but always keep an eye an who is around you, and watch your equipment/property. This goes for any part of NYC. Compared to 7 years ago, this area has improved, with lots of new stores. Night is ok, but more trouble makers seem to come out.

  by Terminal Proceed
I wouldn't do it.

  by RailBus63
How is Metro-North about photographing trains from the platforms at 125th?

  by Otto Vondrak
You should have no problems taking pictures from the platform as long as you dont make a nuisance of yourself. I'm not sure you can get good pictures from the street, what are you trying to take pictures of?

Harlem around the train station is a busy shopping area full of people. The standard warning that apply when you visit any major city featuring busy streets applies here. Have you ever visited NYC before?


  by Trainer
Yeah, it's not a good place to start yelling "Excuse me! Photo line!" at people who walk in front of your camera. :-)

Seriously, in the daytime it's not a bad area at all. Just look like you know what you're doing, don't dress too geeky, and try not to look up at the buildings.

  by bingdude
The 125th street area is dramatically improved. It is "almost" safe. Daytime you should have no problem. It is very busy there. However, just North, East and South are big housing projects. It's probably a wise bet to stay away from those.

But as Otto pointed out, The station platform is really the only place to get a good shot. You would get better pix going up to one of the bridges over the ROW around E140th street. But that is a less safe neighborhood than 125th.
  by Kurt
Also try 96 street & park Avenue. Very Nice neighborhood, excellent views of all tracks, and it is from a public sidewalk! Only draw back is it only faces north, but if you go a few blocks north on the west side, near the parking garage, you are almost level with the roadbed.

  by checkthedoorlight
Harlem has improved dramtically over the last couple years. There's no "almost" about it being safe during the day. Go to the very northern end of either platform to get some great shots of trains coming around the curve over the Harlem River bridge.

There is usually pretty big police presense on the platforms, often with dogs, but I've never been bothered by any of them for either photography, or standing around for a half hour counting trains.

Mott Haven is a pretty sketchy neighborhood, but if you really want to get some great photos, take the 2/4/5 to 149/Grand Concourse. When you exit the station, walk half a block east on 149 St and you'll be on the overpass over Mott Haven junction, which is a great spot for both trainspotting and getting photos. Both the north and south sides of the bridge have great views. As long as you don't wander off to anywhere other than the overpass or subway station, you should be safe and left alone.

  by FEC_Fan
My personal experience - and I have a lot of it, both daytime and evening hours (but not late night) - is that the 125th Street neighborhood is absolutely safe. Harlem, like all of New York City, isn't what it once was. I feel as safe in the 125th Street station vicinity - including walking over to the Lexington Ave subway - as I do in any other part of the city. I would not hesitate to visit the area at all.

I've also spent some time in the Mott Haven/149th Street area, and don't feel in the least bit unsafe there either. If you're going there on a weekday, you're in a college zone - Hostos Community College is right on the corner of 149th & Grand Concourse. You'll be surrounded by college students more than anything else.

At the time of day when you'd be looking to take photographs, you should go about your business/hobby with no fear. Just take whatever precautions for your own personal safety that you would take anywhere else.
  by fordhamroad
-Excuse me, there are a lot of good people in Harlem, and some of them even work for Metro North. You would be amazed, if you came downstairs from the "safe" station platforms, to see how busy the neighborhood has become. There is a police station in the Metro North building. My wife works at 120th and Madison every day, and often commutes from Pelham. The streets are filling up with new apartment buildings and commercial buildings. A skyscraper hotel is in planning for the sw corner of 125th and Park. There is a big shopping center a block east at Lexington. An amusing sight is little groups of very white tourists doing walking tours, or the crowds of (mostly foreign) white visitors to Harlem churches on Sundays. Just avoid the rougher street people and you will be fine.
-yes you can photograph from the platforms. You can also shoot from the street, but it is a very low angle to the viaduct. 96th has possibilities.
The parking garage at Mt. Sinai hospital overlooks the tracks and has photographic views at several levels.


  by brnxvill
125 th street is fine , absolutely safe during daylight. You should have no hesitation about photographing there. Personally, I'd set up on the Southbound side before noon and on the Northbound side after noon to get the best light. Also, i'd set up at the far end (in the direction of) of the trains to get the full consists, you'll see when you get there, it's a great station and the interior is fantastic too, they did an amazing job.

I remember that station from the late 60's onward when it was an absolute mess, today, it is an incredibly accurate and beautiful restoration. Go there, it's beautiful!

p.s. as in any big city, use your common sense and be mindful of your surroundings at all times. I travel through there regularly but am always mindful and vigilant in the neighborhood between subway (no.4,5,6 from GCT) and the station. I've never been hassled...


  by Noel Weaver
I don't know just how safe it is today around 149th Street in the south
Bronx but I think it might be a good idea not to go in to that particular
area alone with a camera, I would try to bring somebody with me.
Noel Weaver
  by FEC_Fan
Noel Weaver wrote:I don't know just how safe it is today around 149th Street in the south
Bronx but I think it might be a good idea not to go in to that particular
area alone with a camera, I would try to bring somebody with me.
Noel Weaver
The area has improved dramatically in the last few years (as has just about any section of the city, including East New York, although I wouldn't go THERE alone yet....). I worked at MO in the mid 80s, and I go there occasionally these days, and it's like night and day. During daylight hours there's no need to take any greater precautions than you'd take at Grand Central. I drive my personal car there and park on the street near the yard, or I walk from the yard to the subway - never feel the slightest need to be concerned in either case.