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, February 23, 2017

Traveling from New York City to Travers Island for New York Athletic Club Events in the Club's Earliest Years

In the early years after the founding of the New York Athletic Club facility on Travers Island in 1888, whenever a major event was held on the island all of Pelham buzzed with activity.  Trains rolled into and out of the Pelhamville station on the New Haven Main Line and the Pelham Manor depot on the Branch Line.  Stage coaches, carriages, and single horses flooded the roadways moving club members, their guests, and spectators from New Rochelle, Pelhamville, the train stations, City Island, and other locations onto Travers Island.  People walked the various roadways that led to Travers Island and even took ferries to Glen Island from which they hailed a Club ferry from the boathouse across from "Little Germany" on Starin's Glen Island to pick them up and ferry them onto Travers Island.  People streamed across the small stone causeway that crossed the marsh and flats between the mainland and Pelham Manor.  In short, as hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- flooded onto Travers Island from New York City and the surrounding region for major events, all of Pelham became a bee hive of activity and excitement that, frankly, is difficult to imaging today!

I have written before about traveling to, from, and within Pelham over the last few centuries on a number of occasions.  See, e.g.:  

Tue., Jan. 10, 2017:  Stagecoach Lines Proliferated in Pelham in the 1870s, Part of Pelham's Old Stage Coach Days.

Tue., Dec. 27, 2016:  Stage Coach Days In Old Pelham.

Wed., Mar. 16, 2016:  Traveling by Rail from Grand Central Depot in New York City to Pelhamville in 1875.  

Fri., Mar. 11, 2016:  How Did Pelhamites Travel To and From Nearby New York City in 1857?

How did visitors get to Travers Island for special events in the early years after the Club's opening on Travers Island in 1888?  Actually, there were many ways.

First, visitors could travel in horse-drawn vehicles or on horseback from 59th Street through Kings Bridge, onto Southern Boulevard through the Village of Westchester (site of today's Westchester Square in the Bronx) across Pelham Bridge and onto today's Shore Road until they reached the causeway leading to Travers Island.  The trip typically took about an hour and a half from 59th Street in Manhattan.

Second, visitors could take the so-called "Harlem Branch" of the New-York & New-Haven Railroad (the Branch Line) from a depot located near the foot of each of the Second Avenue and Third Avenue Bridges on the mainland opposite Manhattan.  A club program published in 1891 noted that efforts were underway to connect the Branch Line across the Harlem River that separates Manhattan from the mainland in the Bronx.  It said "The New Haven Railroad Co. is now completing arrangements via Harlem Branch for rapid transit over Second Avenue Elevated, making close connection on same platform at 129th Street Station."  The branch line brought passengers to the Pelham Manor depot located a few hundred yards away from the entrance to Travers Island.  The New York Athletic Club maintained a stagecoach that met all principal trains at the Pelham Manor depot and shuttled members and their guests between the station and Travers Island.  Traveling from the Harlem Branch depot by train to Pelham Manor followed by the short stagecoach ride to Travers Island took about thirty minutes.  The rail excursion fare was twenty-five cents.

Third, some visitors traveled to Pelham on the main line of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad leaving from the old Grand Central Depot built before today's Grand Central Terminal to the Pelhamville train station.  The New York Athletic Club arranged for discount round trip tickets costing forty cents, although such tickets, of course, were limited to club members and could only be obtained at the club's facilities.  Stagecoaches ran between the Pelhamville station and Travers Island, meeting all trains.  A one-way fare on the stagecoach was fifteen cents.  Once again, club members could obtain a discounted round-trip ticket for the stagecoach costing 25 cents if they procured the tickets at the club's facilities.

Engraving of Grand Central Depot at 42nd Street Published in 1875.
(NY, NY: George L. Catlin, 1875). NOTE: Click on Image to Enlarge.

Fourth, some visitors chose to take the New Haven Main Line to New Rochelle and then connect with the Branch Line to head back to the Pelham Manor station where they were met by stagecoaches.  This trip took about fifty minutes.

Fifth, visitors took Starin's Glen Island ferry boats from the foot of East 32nd Street in New York City to Glen Island.  On that island was a dock near the "Little Germany" area of Glen Island.  From that dock, the visitors could shout across the narrow stretch of water to the New York Athletic Club boat-house float from which the club ferry would be sent to ferry the visitors across the water.  Once again, there was a special fare of twenty cents available only to members of the club who had to procure the tickets from the club facilities.  Getting to Travers Island in this way took about ninety minutes.

Trade Card Showing Fleet of Starin's Glen Island Steamboats
During the 1880s.  The Fleet Transported Visitors to Glen Island
from Which they Could Hail the N.Y.A.C. Ferry Boat to Pick
them Up from the Island.  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

Finally, of course, people throughout Pelham and the surrounding region rode horseback and walked local roads to get to Travers Island for special events.  This added to the buzz of activity throughout the Town when large Travers Island events were underway!

Cover of Program for New York Athletic Club's
Ladies' Day during the 46th Games of the New
York Athletic Club on Saturday, June 13, 1891.
NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

*          *          *          *          *

The program for "Ladies' Day" at Travers Island during the forty-sixth annual games of the New York Athletic Club on June 13, 1891 included a page with a list of ways to get to the Travers Island facilities.  The text of that page appears immediately below, followed by a citation and link to its source. 



The means of reaching Travers Island are as follows:

1.  By driving via Southern Boulevard through Westchester Village and over the old Boston Post Road [a reference to today's Shore Road] and Pelham Bridge.  Time from 59th Street, one and a half hours.

2.  By Harlem Branch of the N.Y. & N.H.R.R., from depot foot of the Second or Third Avenue Bridges on the other side of the Harlem River, to Pelham Manor.  Excursion fare, twenty-five cents.  Time, thirty minutes from the Bridge.  The Club stage meets all the principal trains at Pelham Manor.  The New Haven Railroad Co. is now completing arrangements via Harlem Branch for rapid transit over Second Avenue Elevated, making close connection on same platform at 129th Street Station.

3.  From the Grand Central Depot to Pelhamville, on New York, New Haven & Hartford R.R., at forty cents per round trip, tickets procurable only at the Club Houses, and restricted to Club members.  From Pelhamville to Travers Island and return, stages will be run, meeting trains, at twenty-five cents per round trip if tickets be procured at either Club House, otherwise at fifteen cents single fare.

4.  By N.Y. & N.H. Main Line to New Rochelle, thence by branch line to Pelham Manor, Fare, thirty-four cents.  Time, from Grand Central Depot, about fifty minutes.

5.  By Starin's Glen Island Boats to Glen Island, where (from the dock at 'Little Germany') our ferry can be called over from the boat-house float.  Special tickets for members of this Club can be had at the Club Houses.  Fare, twenty cents.  Time, from 32d Street, E. R., about one and a half hours.

Also special trains both ways this date.

Lady visitors are permitted to visit the Island each day, except Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays, between 10 A.M. and 5 P.M.  Wednesday in each week is specially designated as 'Laadies' Day,' from 10 A.M. to 10 P.M.  A Ladies' Room, in charge of a competent maid, has been provided."

Source:  LADIES' DAY -- FORTY-SIXTH GAMES OF THE NEW YORK ATHLETIC CLUB 1868-1891, SATURDAY, JUNE 13, 1891, TRAVERS ISLAND ON THE SOUND, p. 2 (NY, NY:  New York Athletic Club, 1891).  

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