• NYC New York Central High Line (West Side Improvement)

  • Discussion relating to the NYC and subsidiaries, up to 1968. Visit the NYCS Historical Society for more information.
Discussion relating to the NYC and subsidiaries, up to 1968. Visit the NYCS Historical Society for more information.

Moderator: Otto Vondrak

  by nydjshep
I was walking along Washington Street in Manhattan recently, along the old High Line, and work seemed like it had started in earnest to turn it into an urban rail trail.

I was wondering, when did line abandon St. John's Park? I think it was in the 50's, when some of the High Line ROW below Bank St. was sold for housing. But had traffic there dried up by then? Was there any debate over it at the time? The line was only about 20 years old at that time. When St. John's was in service, there were about 8 tracks running into it--how was it switched? And what kind of stuff was shipped to St. John's. Also, the line served Nabisco, Armour--when did they stop using the line? And did the RR serve Bell Labs (now Westbeth) whose building it ran through?


Dan Shepard
  by ChiefTroll
when did line abandon St. John's Park?
St. John's Park Freight House was in service in 1961, and it was out of service in 1964, based on the time-table special instructions on Close Overhead Clearances. I know it was still operating in 1961 when I was a yard clerk on the Electric Division, tho' I never worked down there.

In October, 1964, the easternmost (south, by geography) overhead clearance was Bell Labs on Washington Street.

St. John's Park was switched with diesel-electric switching locomotives. When it was first opened, they were the tri-power motors. After those were retired in the 1950's, the prevaling yard engines in New York City were Alco S-1's and S-3's. St. John's Park Station was a large covered freight house for LCL freight (Less-than-Car Load). It handled all sorts of merchandise in small shipments.

The railroad never served Bell Labs. The building was there first, so the NYC had to design and construct the opening for the tracks with great care to avoid vibrations that would affect the delicate instrumentation used on research projects in the building. They used some very advanced, for the time, isolation bearings to prevent transmission of vibrations from the track to the building.

The "Close Overhead Clearances" in the time-table only shows Tracks 1 and 2 at Bell Labs. If they had a sidetrack, it would have shown as such, because it would have had to be covered. Tracks 1 and 2 were the through tracks between St. John's Park and West 105th Street. From West 105th St to Spuyten Duyvil the two tracks became actual "Main Tracks" by time-table designation.

Gordon Davids
  by Tom Curtin
By the way St. Johns Park freight building is still fully intact. If you are ever in lower Manhattan it's at Houston Street.

For the benefit of the Texans in the crowd that's HOUSE-ton Street.

  by pennsy
Hi Tom,

You got that right, and congratulations. Only NY'ers, and Ex-NY'ers know that one. Got to mention that on House Ton street is also Katz's Delicatessen Restaurant. If you are ever in that area DO NOT MISS that place.

  by nydjshep
Thanks Gordon for the informative reply.

Also, St. John's Park is quite literally on W. Houston--the street goes right through the building, and you can still see the steelwork that held up the rr tracks that ran through the second floor.

Katz's deli, while on Houston, is on the other side of town, in the Lower East Side, and is known for meat eating, rather than the meatpacking district that the NYC ran through.
  by lbagg91833
During the TUG BOAT STRIKE in '61 the branch delivered/terminated meat and LCL/CL traffic to ST.JOHN's PARK. All from 33rs st YARD, and the MAIL HAUL to/from the USPS. During the strike the NYC also del live hogs to the 42nd st slaughter house. Meat to 14th ST came into NYC via NY-6/NY-4/NY-14 etc and KOSHER MEAT was blessed at 33rdST, before delivery to 14th ST. ST.JOHNS PARK still recvd/dispacted freight then, but most LCL originated/terminated at 33rd ST. LARRY B
  by Luther Brefo
I was just taking the virtual tour of the New York Central's High Line and got to wondering, how much of the information is still relevant today.

I am mainly concerned with who owns the line now? From what the site says, the gov't would not allow Conrail to dispose of the right of way and when CSX acquired it, the same was still true. Is this still the case?

Also how much of the ROW is left? I am sure much of the rail is removed and not a single piece of railroad equipment has moved over it in decades (since the 1980s? as per the site)

The site I am referring to is http://oldnyc.com/highline/contents/highline.html

What plans are in the works for the High Line ROW if any?

I am sure there are tons of legal battles ongoing and money to be lost and gained.

  by DutchRailnut
google is your friend:
The remnants are now owned by a rails for trails type group.

  by Luther Brefo
Thank you.
  by Jeff Smith
Interesting Article on High Line. I thought of this because of recent discussion in another topic on freight into NYC:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/13/nyreg ... nted=print
For Mr. Obletz, the railyards west of Penn Station were not a hotly contested development opportunity, but literally his backyard. Beginning in the late 1970s, when the western fringe of Hell’s Kitchen was such a forbidding wasteland after dark that cabbies would not take riders there, Mr. Obletz lived in the railyards in a formerly derelict concrete-block railroad building near 30th Street and 11th Avenue. Next door, on a spur of track, he kept two elegantly appointed antique rail cars he had obsessively restored.

A train buff’s train buff, Mr. Obletz worked as a real estate consultant for the transit authority and gave elaborate dinner parties in his gleaming, 68-ton Pullman dining car. Places were set with New York Central Railroad china and flatware, with the host sometimes attired in a blue velvet smoking jacket and saddle shoes.
  by hotbike
http://video.on.nytimes.com/?fr_story=1 ... acf5f89e00

I hope this is not too off topic. The line does run around the west side yard.

The West Side High Line is being made into a linear park, for walking and bicycling.

I've always wanted to walk the length of it, railfanning, but some improvements are necessary before it is safe.

http://video.on.nytimes.com/?fr_story=1 ... acf5f89e00

The rails were removed, but it looks like they are being reinstalled, albeit cosmetically. I don't think a train can run on them.
  by thor88
hotbike wrote:
I hope this is not too off topic.
No, not really, other than it has absolutely nothing to do with the LIRR other than passing near it much like the subway does. This would have been better placed in the PennCentral or New York Central forums.

There was no connection to Penn Station until Amtrak put it in back in the late 1980's so they could run the Albany trains out of Penn Station instead of Grand Central.

I've walked it from DV, though the tunnels, all the way to West 12th St back in the late 70's.

PennCentral Northeast Region Timetable #4, dated Oct 25, 1970

PennCentral Northeast Region Timetable #5, dated Oct 31, 1971
And for the modelers out there -