WTC Site - Defunct Railroad

Discussion relating to the past and present operations of the NYC Subway, PATH, and Staten Island Railway (SIRT).

Moderator: GirlOnTheTrain

Jeff Smith
Site Admin
Posts: 8592
Joined: Tue Nov 07, 2006 9:28 am
Location: If it's Tuesday, It Must Be Belgium

WTC Site - Defunct Railroad

Post by Jeff Smith » Mon Jan 14, 2008 9:01 am

Does anyone have any background on this? Was this an old subway, or PATH / Hudson Tubes? The article mentions it in a short blurb, and never explains it.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/13/nyreg ... wanted=all
At the eastern portion of ground zero, hundreds of workers contend with a nasty subterranean nest: steel and concrete, a defunct railroad, forgotten foundations, landfill, quartz deposits and glacial remnants in a vast pit that the Hudson River ceaselessly tries to inundate with icy, brackish water.
Next stop, Willoughby
~el Jefe ("Jeff Smith Rules") :: RAILROAD.NET Site Administrator/Co-Owner

cjvrr
Posts: 1362
Joined: Sat Mar 13, 2004 11:47 pm
Location: Morris County, NJ

Post by cjvrr » Mon Jan 14, 2008 10:47 am

I believe it was the old terminus for the Hudson tubes. When I visited and toured the site a few years ago you could clearly see one of the former abandoned tubes poking thru the east wall of the main bathtub.
CV the Civil E

the missing link

Post by the missing link » Mon Jan 14, 2008 10:05 pm

maybee not quite a railroad in our perception, but on the roof of the towers/observation deck there was a set of rails w/ small turntables at each corner for the window washing system. took a few pics out of curiosity. hey, if it runs on rails, it's a railroad!
all the years we took the towers for granted that they would allways be there, i had only been as a tourist w/ familly visiting from overseas. 1976 and 2001 .

Dieter
Posts: 2085
Joined: Tue Apr 20, 2004 11:32 am
Location: Sobeys

Post by Dieter » Tue Jan 15, 2008 8:51 am

The old New York Central line down the West Side terminated at the World Trade Center site, but I don't recall if it was above or below grade.

There was a produce distribution center in the old days, prior to construction of the WTC. All the produce came in by rail, what you're talking about may be that trackage.

D/
Video
If the problem is Digital,
The Solution is ANALOG!!

Jeff Smith
Site Admin
Posts: 8592
Joined: Tue Nov 07, 2006 9:28 am
Location: If it's Tuesday, It Must Be Belgium

Post by Jeff Smith » Tue Jan 15, 2008 9:38 am

I haven't been back since the week after 9/11, and have no plans to return.

Dieter, I assume you're talking about the NYC pre-High Line, because the High Line obviously was above ground, and terminated at St. John's, which is long gone, right? Sounds like it must have been the Hudson tubes, I guess PATH re-routed or shortened the alignment when WTC was built.
Next stop, Willoughby
~el Jefe ("Jeff Smith Rules") :: RAILROAD.NET Site Administrator/Co-Owner

CarterB
Posts: 2771
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 9:19 am
Location: Bergen County, New Jersey

Post by CarterB » Tue Jan 15, 2008 10:10 am

Here's the definitive answer:

http://www.columbia.edu/~brennan/abandoned/hudterm.html

It's the old Hudson Terminal built by the Hudson & Manhattan.

The ''holes in the wall" of the bathtub are still there.

The old "high line" was elevated all the way to St. John's Park Terminal, ( much of the Terminal building still there) Opposite the Holland Tunnel, between Clarkson and Spring St and between Washington and the West Side Hwy.
http://maps.live.com (search for: Spring St., New York City, NY)
Last edited by CarterB on Tue Jan 15, 2008 10:29 am, edited 2 times in total.
Bring back the Slumbercoaches!!

User avatar
Otto Vondrak
Posts: 20285
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 6:47 pm
Location: New York

Post by Otto Vondrak » Tue Jan 15, 2008 10:10 am

Dieter, I'm fairly certain the NYC "High Line" (the 30th Street Branch it was called in NYC timetables) did not go to the WTC site. The WTC site was occupied by Hudson Terminal, the large building on the site of the old Hudson & Manhattan (later PATH) downtown terminal loop. In fact, the way I understood it, the Port Authority had to acquire the ailing railroad in order to get the Hudson Terminal property they so desparately needed. St. John's Park on the NYC 30th Street Branch was several blocks away at Spring Street and 11th or 12th Avenue...

Image

http://railroad.net/articles/railfanning/westside/

If they are finding any abandoned railroad in the bathtub site, it's the abandoned H&M terminal tunnels, which have been used for storage since the construction and opening of the WTC terminal loops sometime in the 1970s(?)?

Some neat Hudson Tubes pictures and stuff:
http://www.hudsoncity.net/tubesenglish/ ... meset.html

I'm going to move this question to the PATH Forum for more exposure.

-otto-
Last edited by Otto Vondrak on Tue Jan 15, 2008 10:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
----------------------------------------------
Moderator: New York State Railfan :: New York Central :: Toy Trains
NYW&B Fan Site :: A Magazine I Read Often :: A Museum I Volunteer At

Dieter
Posts: 2085
Joined: Tue Apr 20, 2004 11:32 am
Location: Sobeys

Post by Dieter » Tue Jan 15, 2008 10:11 am

Yes Sarge, you deduct correctly. I work with a guy whose father was a produce man down there years ago. When he returns from knee surgery, I will ask him about it because I recall him talking about being underground there with his Dad and watching box cars being unloaded. For some reason, I recall something about three different levels, or three storys underground. It will be a week or two, but I'll get to the bottom of it.

D/
Video
If the problem is Digital,
The Solution is ANALOG!!

User avatar
Otto Vondrak
Posts: 20285
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 6:47 pm
Location: New York

Post by Otto Vondrak » Tue Jan 15, 2008 10:25 am

Hudson Termina...

Image
----------------------------------------------
Moderator: New York State Railfan :: New York Central :: Toy Trains
NYW&B Fan Site :: A Magazine I Read Often :: A Museum I Volunteer At

Jeff Smith
Site Admin
Posts: 8592
Joined: Tue Nov 07, 2006 9:28 am
Location: If it's Tuesday, It Must Be Belgium

Post by Jeff Smith » Tue Jan 15, 2008 2:02 pm

Thanks for the background. I knew the tubes had a long and storied history, and there was some realignment. I thought it was possible at some point, pre-GCT, that NYC or its predecessor (Harlem River RR?) had run cars pretty far downtown using horses on the streets (although not the West Side freight operation). I thought it may also have been some type of rail-float operation with the Erie? across the river at their old terminal. Every time they dig something up there they find something (think the SI Ferry Stop on the 1). The Battery has a long and storied history.
Next stop, Willoughby
~el Jefe ("Jeff Smith Rules") :: RAILROAD.NET Site Administrator/Co-Owner

Jeff Smith
Site Admin
Posts: 8592
Joined: Tue Nov 07, 2006 9:28 am
Location: If it's Tuesday, It Must Be Belgium

Post by Jeff Smith » Tue Jan 15, 2008 2:21 pm

Foaming Alert:

If they're going to extend the 7 Flushing Line (I know the target is Javits and the West Side Yards), why not add a connection to the PATH and run a single train from Shea to Newark?

Sorry, Otto, your PATH link got me all excited.
Next stop, Willoughby
~el Jefe ("Jeff Smith Rules") :: RAILROAD.NET Site Administrator/Co-Owner

Allan
Posts: 420
Joined: Mon Oct 18, 2004 7:10 am
Location: Bronx, NY

Post by Allan » Tue Jan 15, 2008 2:50 pm

Sarge wrote:Foaming Alert:

If they're going to extend the 7 Flushing Line (I know the target is Javits and the West Side Yards), why not add a connection to the PATH and run a single train from Shea to Newark?

Sorry, Otto, your PATH link got me all excited.
The MTA would never give up control of anything to the Port Authority of NY & NJ.

Also due to the variation in the truck placement on NYC subway cars and PATH cars, NYC subway cars could not properly take the curves on PATH w/o breaking something.

CarterB
Posts: 2771
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 9:19 am
Location: Bergen County, New Jersey

Post by CarterB » Tue Jan 15, 2008 3:29 pm

Back to circa 1851, the Hudson River RR rail line ran on the west side streets north from Chambers St to Spuyten Duyvil.



Building of The Hudson River Railroad. http://www.catskillarchive.com/rrextra/abnyh.Html

"Commencing at the principal city station, at the junction of Chamber and Hudson streets, the track is laid through Hudson, Canal, and West streets, to Tenth avenue, which it follows to the upper city station, at Thirty-fourth street. Over this part of the route the rails are laid even with the streets, and the cars are drawn by what is called a "dumb engine." This is considered a great improvement over the use of horses, for drawing the cars through the streets, where, by the corporation regulations, locomotives are not allowed to run. This engine appears very much like an ordinary freight car. The machinery is entirely out of sight, and it is made to consume its own smoke. While passing through the city, it is preceded by a man on horseback, who gives notice of its approach by blowing a horn. At Thirty-fourth street, the line curves into Eleventh avenue, the dumb engine is detached, and the regular locomotive takes the train."

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/05/nyreg ... nted=print

"Below 30th Street, railroad cars drawn by horses funneled goods from the West Side railyards to Spring Street, with stops that today's subway riders will recognize: 23rd Street, 14th, Christopher.

In 1867, when the horses were replaced by steam engines, both traffic and speed increased. So did the inevitable conflicts arising from a street-level railroad operating in a crowded neighborhood. This lethal mix of industry and humanity earned Tenth Avenue the nickname Death Avenue.

"The traction of freight and passenger trains by ordinary locomotives in the surface of the streets is an evil which has already been endured too long," a state senator said in 1866, "and must be speedily abated."

The speedy abatement took half a century. Finally, a deadline was set: If the tracks were not raised above the street by May 1, 1908, the city would seize them. The date came and went, with neither elevation nor condemnation.

The only concession to safety that had ever been made was the recruitment of young men to ride horses one block in front of the trains, waving a red flag by day and a red light by night. These men, a total of 12 often recruited from the countryside, rode the two-mile stretch for more than 80 years starting in 1850.

A 1934 newsletter from a local apartment house wrote effusively about the West Side Cowboys, as the group was known. "The horses used in this unusual service are tried and true, and are perfectly aware of their important mission in life," the newsletter observes, noting that the horses "move surely and serenely," allowing their riders "to amuse the passerby with amazing variation of the routine waving the lanterns."

Apparently, citizens weren't impressed enough. They organized under the name The League to End Death Avenue, but nothing was done beyond the cowboys.

Five months after the 1908 deadline had passed, 7-year-old Seth Low Hascamp, dressed in a shirt and overalls, left his home at 544 West 44th Street and headed to school at St. Ambrose, on 54th Street. The train that killed him reportedly ripped his small body apart. Seth was one of hundreds who had died since the tracks had been laid. His family, neighbors and classmates held a silent funeral procession through the streets.

Another 20 years would pass before Mayor Jimmy Walker and Gov. Al Smith stepped in with public money to elevate the tracks. By 1933, 1,000 men had eliminated 105 street-level rail crossings, and when the elevated track was christened in June 1934, The New York Times reported, "The West Side is coming into its own."
Bring back the Slumbercoaches!!

drumz0rz
Posts: 360
Joined: Mon Jul 09, 2007 1:49 am

Post by drumz0rz » Thu Mar 13, 2008 11:18 pm

It's a shame that with the post 9/11/01 clean up the original hudson tubes were removed.

TREnecNYP

Re:

Post by TREnecNYP » Mon Jan 18, 2010 4:14 pm

drumz0rz wrote:It's a shame that with the post 9/11/01 clean up the original hudson tubes were removed.
Totally.

As for train from newark to shea, that would be more of a NJT/LIRR thing, since the IRT loading gauge is about a foot too narrow for PATH trains. You might be able to get away with it using a gauntlet track, but you can just change at NYP to LIRR, or wtc to E to 7 at times sq.

- A

Return to “NYC MTA Subway and Rail, PATH and SIRT”