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.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Important Report of the Opening of the Branch Line Through the Manor of Pelham in November 1873

An important development in the transportation history of the Town of Pelham was the opening in 1873 of the so-called Branch Line that included two new train stations in the Town of Pelham:  Bartow Station near City Island along today's Shore Road and Pelham Manor Station that once stood at the end of the Esplanade near today's Manor Circle.

The Branch Line opened for passenger traffic in November, 1873.  Its opening prompted real estate speculation in the area as well as major efforts to develop new suburban subdivisions that came to be known as Bartow (or, Bartow-on-Sound) and Pelham Manor.

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog transcribes the text of an article published in 1873 shortly before the opening of the Branch Line.  It provides a fascinating description of the new line as well as references to its expected impact on the value of local real estate.  

Detail from 1881 Map Showing the Path of the Branch
Line Through the Town of Pelham.
Source:  Bromley, G.W., "Town of Pelham, (With)
Pelham-Manor.  From Actual Surveys and Official
Records by G.W. Bromley & Co." in Atlas of Westchester
County, New York, pp. 56-57 (Philadelphia, PA:  G. W.
Bromley & Co., 1881).

Near Opening of the Harlem and Portchester Railroad--A.  New Avenue to Westchester County -- Schedule of the Read's Influence -- Current Transactions.

The principal item of interest in connection with real estate movements, which are at present centred in Westchester county, comes now from the Harlem and Portchester Railroad Company, who make the following representation of their ability to help the value of property: --


is on the Westchester side of the Harlem River, a short distance south of Harlem bridge, and opposite the second avenue of this city, where the company has secured a valuable tract of land having a frontage of more than a thousand feet along the river.

On the margin of the river a substantial dock, nine hundred feet long, has been constructed, and upon it a passenger and freight depot, three hundred feet long and thirty feet wide, has been nearly completed.  Passengers will be able to pass through the depot from the trains to the steamers without exposure.  

A spacious engine house and car shed have been erected on the premises, and the grounds will soon be covered with tracks for the different passenger and freight trains.  

It is intended to transfer the freight cars from the road to barges or steamers and thence to other railroads without breaking bulk, thereby saving time and expense.  

The whole length of the new railroad, from Harlem River to its junction with the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad at New Rochelle, is twelve and one-quarter miles, while the distance between the Harlem River and New Rochelle, by the present route, by way of Williamsbridge and Mount Vernon, is twelve and three-quarter miles.

Both tracks for the new road are laid for the entire length, and the only impediment to the immediate opening of the line is at the bridge across Pelham Bay.  The centre pier will be completed at or before the end of this week, when the draw will be replaced in position, and it is authoritatively announced that the road will certainly be opened for public travel by the 15th of next month.  

The road has been built in the most thorough and substantial manner with double track, steel rails and broken stone ballast, at a cost of nearly $2,000,000.

It is probable that commuters on the New Haven Railroad will have an opportunity of using either route to and from the city at a very slight advance on the present rates.  Local fares on the new road will be three cents per mile.  

Negotiations are now in progress with one of the steamboat lines for the transportation of passengers and freight between the depot of North New York, north side of the Harlem River, and the lower part of the city.


The first station above the Harlem River dock will be between 135th and 136th streets, and known as Port Morris station, a distance of one and one-fifth of a mile.

The second station will be at the intersection of the railroad with Hunt's Point road, one mile and two-thirds above Port Morris station, and will be known as Hunt's Point station.  

The third station east of the Harlem River will be the town of West Chester, opposite the village of West Farms, one mile and a quarter above Hunt's Point and will be known as West Farms station.  

The fourth station will be in the village of West Chester, one mile and one-third east of the West Farms depot, and will be known as the West Chester station.  

The fifth station will be in the town of West Chester, two miles east of the village of that name, and will be known as the Baychester station.

The sixth station will be in the town of Pelham, opposite City Island road, one mile east of Baychester, and will be known as Bartow station.

The seventh station east of Harlem River will also be in the town of Pelham, one mile and half above Bartow and two miles below New Rochelle, and will be known as Pelham Manor station.

The new road will be operated by the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad Company, under a lease from the Harlem River and Portchester Railroad Company.  It will be known as the Harlem River Branch of the New Haven Railroad.

The important announcements for the week now remaining are the sale on Wednesday, by James M. Miller, at the Exchange,, of 100 lots on Washington Heights, known as the Barney Bowers tract.  As a thoughtful investment this is one of the best offerings of the season.

On Saturday Jere. Johnson, Jr., will hold his closing suburban auction sale at White Plains, when he will offer 200 eligible village lots, finely located on the Tarrytown road, and but five minutes walk from the railroad station.  There will be a free excursion, coliation, music and balloon ascension."

Source:  REAL ESTATE MATTERS -- Near Opening of the Harlem and Portchester Railroad [The New Haven Branch Line], N.Y. Herald, Oct. 29, 1873, p. 4, col. 5. 

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