Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Today's Remnants of the Bartow Station on the Branch Line Near City Island

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In the early 1870s, a tiny train station was constructed on the branch line in what was then the Town of Pelham. The station was known as Bartow station, named for the small hamlet in which it sat referred to variously as Bartow, Bartow-on-the-Sound and Bartow Station.

At the time, New Yorkers viewed "Pelham Manor" as a wealthy estate enclave and a summer playground for wealthy New Yorkers. Within a few years wealthy New Yorkers established the Westchester Country Club nearby and Col. Delancey Kane began running his Pelham Coach (the "Tally-Ho") to and from Pelham Bridge near Bartow.

The promise of the area prompted early developers to cast an eye toward Bartow. For example, a tiny announcement appeared in the September 14, 1874 issue of The New York Times announcing the auction of 300 "choice building lots" at the "new village of Bartow, Pelham Township, Westchester County". The announcement said:

"THIS WEEK'S AUCTIONS . . . Monday, Sept. 14 . . .

By Jere. Johnson, Jr., on the premises at the new village of Bartow, Pelham Township, Westchester County, public auction sale of 300 choice building lots situate on high ground, overloooking the 'Sound' and adjoining the depot of the Harlem River branch of the New-York and New-Haven Railroad, with water fronts on Pelham Bay. Bartow is seven miles from the Centre of New-York, and steam-boats from Fulton slip to Morrisania connect with sixteen trains daily to and fro, making the trip by boat and rail in forty-five minutes. Spectial boat and train will leave Fulton slip, Pier No. 22 East River, at 10:45 A.M.; Grand and Twenty-third streets at 10:50, and Harlem River Railroad Depot at 11:15. Harlem passengers will cross bridge and take cars at railroad station. For free excursion, cards, maps, and information apply to Station Master at Bartow Station, or Jere. Johnson, Jr., Auctioneer, No. 21 Park row, New-York."

Source: This Week's Auctions, N.Y. Times, Sep. 14, 1874, p. 6.

Though the area never developed as planned, in 1908 the tiny train station was replaced with a substantial and lovely station intended to serve City Island residents and visitors. Built of stone with beautiful arched windows and sturdy walls, the station stood at track level.

Remains of the station still stand. A recent photograph of what is left of the station appears below. There is an overgrown path to the station that extends from the bicycle path just south of the traffic circle at Orchard Beach Road westward a few hundred feet to the station. Another way to reach the station is to start at the Pelham Bit Stables near City Island Road. Walk on the paved bicycle path northward (toward Pelham Manor) from the stables parallel to the bridle path. Right before you reach the crosswalks that cross the roadway at the head of the traffic circle at Orchard Beach Road, look to your left and you will see an iron bar gate across what looks like an abandoned roadway. That is the pathway to the station. Portions are still paved.

The station is in an atrocious state of disrepair. The walls are covered with grafitti and fire has damaged roof timbers. The area is so overgrown that during the spring, summer and fall it is difficult to make your way around the structure. Still, it is easy to imagine the grandeur of the lovely structure in its day.

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