....HARLEM RIVER TO WHITE PLAINS AND PORT CHESTER, N.Y.
THE STORY OF "THE WESTCHESTER"
IS ONE OF A RAILROAD built way before its time, and died a few years
short of actually becoming a useful segment of mass transit. You will be hard up to find
traces of it outside of the Bronx. The Westchester was the result of the New Haven
purchasing a dormant 1875 franchise to construct a rapid-transit railroad from the Bronx
north into the wilds of Westchester County. The early promoters correctly predicted the
rapid growth and "suburbanization" of Westchester County, which was still mostly
rural and agrarian at the turn of the century.
...One of the contributing factors to its death was the
incorrect prediction that commercial elements of New York City would continue to grow
northward, and cross the East River onto the shores of the Bronx. The line could have
enjoyed a certain amount of modest profit if it wasn't for the burden of taxation by the
various communities along the line. When the line finally quit in 1937 due to excessive
debt (mostly in the form of back taxes), it was only then when town fathers began to
realize that they had been in error all along. Today, you can ride the Westchester within
the confines of New York City, from E. 180 Street to Dyre Avenue, as the No. 5 Dyre
Avenue Line of the Subway.
...Imagine if you will- a four-track, heavy-electric
railroad, built in similar fashion to the New Haven's electrified mainline. Image
railroad running from an awkward terminal on the Harlem River in the Bronx
White Plains and Port Chester (parallel to the New Haven main). Solidly built with the
latest modern materials and engineering of the time, the Westchester was as real to the
people of the time as today's silvery Cosmopolitan MU's running on the New
Haven Line are to us today.
A FIRST HAND ACCOUNT OF
RIDING "THE WESTCHESTER"
Back in the thirties we lived in Edenwald, right next to Seton Falls
Park in the Bronx. At that time I used the Boston Westchester in my daily
commute to James Monroe High School until my graduation in 1935.The fare
at that time was eight cents.from Dyre Avenue to Westchester Ave.
In my lifetime I've travelled on many railroads, none of which
could match the smoothness of the ride on the Boston Westchester. You could
always depend on the accuracy of it's timetables. The trains ALWAYS
arrived on schedule.
When Mayor LaGuardia refused to extend their franchise; it
was one of the biggest mistakes a politician could make. Within a few
years there would have more than enough commuters to make the system
highly profitable. More money was spent on building roads than what
it would have cost to permit the system to run for a few more years.
Now we are left with crowded highways and a terrible air
To me, the end of the Boston Westchester was as shocking
as losing a real close friend.
| GCT | The Put | End-of-Track | Home
Please mail your comments to:
November 10, 2010