Track and Stations of the New York, Westchester, and Boston Railway (1912)

From nycsubway.org

Electric Railway Journal · Vol. XXXIX, No. 23, June 8, 1912


Typical Station Located in Deep Cut.

A Description of the Permanent Way and Structures of This New Suburban Railway - All Buildings Are Designed in Accordance with a Harmonious Architectural Scheme - The Roadbed is Most Substantial in Character.

As noted in the article published in the Electric Railway Journal for May 25, the New York, Westchester & Boston Railway has been built to comply with the most arduous conditions that high-speed heavy electric traction requires. The right-of-way is remarkable for the great number of bridges and other special structures which were needed in order to have the track and all way buildings laid out in accordance with all future authorized grades. In short, the line was built to meet any physical conditions that are likely to arise when all the streets and highways are laid out in the territories which are served.


Highway Crossing in Pelhamwood.

Track Construction

Exclusive of the Harlem River division of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad, the trackage over which the New York, Westchester & Boston Railway operates consists of a four-track line from 180th Street, New York, to Columbus Avenue, Mount Vernon, and two separate two-track lines from that junction to New Rochelle and White Plains respectively. The track throughout consists of 90-lb. A. S. C. E. Bessemer rails of 18-ft. to 33-ft. length, which are spiked with 9/16-in. Goldie pointed spikes to 7-in x 8-in. x 8-ft. creosoted long-leaf yellow pine ties. About 18,000 of these ties had been on hand since 1906 and were creosoted by a local concern. The rest of the ties were new and were purchased and creosoted at Jacksonville, Fla. The total cost of the latter lot, including delivery, inspection, etc., was $1.15 each. The rails are laid on 5-in. x 8 1/2-in. Dilworth flanged tie plates which have corrugated top surfaces and 1/4-in. shoulders. These plates are installed on all ties on curves and on every other tie on tangents. The joints consist of 24-in. angle bars and are drilled to receive bonding wires behind them. The roadway is splendidly ballasted with trap rock of sizes ranging from 1/4 in. to 2 1/2 in. laid 14 in. deep at the center of the track and 7 in. at the ties.

The switch ties are of plain white oak. Flat tie plates are used under all frogs, switches and turnouts. These special plates are 1/4 in. thick, 6 in. wide and are made in lengths up to 25 in. They have plain flat surfaces punched to suit their positions. All stiff frogs have manganese centers of the Ramapo No. 1 type. The switch points are of Bessemer rails with reinforcing bars on both sides. Guard rails are placed 10 in. from the running rail at all bridges, stations, viaducts and also in the Morris Park subway and are provided with cast-iron noses. Vaughn anti-creepers are also installed at every fifth tie to anchor the running rails at the foot of all grades and in the vicinity of all interlocking points.


Cross Section of Subway at Stations.

The two outside tracks are used for the local service and the two middle tracks for the express service. The elevations of the outer rail on all curves have been fixed accordingly. The maximum elevation on the express tracks is for a speed of 57 m.p.h., while the maximum on the local tracks is for 35 m.p.h. All curves of 30 mm. and more are provided with easement spirals at each end. The maximum curve is 6 deg. and the maximum elevation 7 in. The track spacing on curves and tangents is ordinarily 13 ft. center to center, except on some of the old bridges where the distance is 12 ft. 6 in. A spacing of 15 ft. is used at locations where there are columns between the tracks. The following are the clearances between the street surface and overhead structures at highway crossings: 14 ft. in Mount Vernon, New Rochelle and county crossings and 16 ft. in New York City. The minimum clearance above the top of the rail is 18 ft. for overhead bridges.

Further information regarding the track construction, including the system of drainage to city sewers, is shown in the accompanying cross-sections of the two-track and four-track structures, bridges, viaducts and subway.

Special Way Structures


Viaduct at Morris Park.'

The total number of special way structures is seventy, divided as follows: One four-track subway, two four-track viaducts, one two-track viaduct, forty-three railway bridges and twenty-three highway crossings. There are also four concrete arches, one of which is reinforced in part. The subway runs north for 3940 ft. from the Morris Park station, extending from Paulding Avenue to Mace Avenue. The construction of this underground section was required by franchise and right-of-way conditions. The owners of the property in this section have arranged to build a street 100 ft. wide over the roof of this structure. The longer four-track viaduct, which is located at 180th Street, New York, is partly a deck and partly a through girder structure 2100 ft. long. It crosses seven streets and forms part of the 180th Street station. The four-track viaduct at the Columbus Avenue crossing over the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad also includes the longest railroad bridge, which has 116-ft. girders. The longest highway crossing, which is located at North Avenue, New Rochelle, is 138 ft. long.


Steel Viaduct Near Fifth Avenue Station.

An interesting example of the high construction standards of this railway, even in minor things, is shown in the accompanying view of a footbridge fabricated of steel and supported on concrete piers with heavy permanent concrete abutments.


Steel Footbridge on White Plains Branch.

A feature of all bridges except the older ones, which were not deep enough, is the use of solid concrete floors. These floors are waterproofed in several ways. Thus, on one viaduct alternate layers of cement and burlap are used for this purpose. On deck structures the reinforced concrete slabs are covered with waterproofing, which in turn receives it top dressing of 3 in. of concrete. In other cases a layer of brick is set on edge in cement over the waterproofing. The standards for the track construction were prepared under the direction of J. L. Crider, chief engineer.

Conditions Governing Station Construction

The passenger stations and signal towers may be said to constitute the most attractive group of way structures possessed by any electric or steam railroad in the United States. This result was made possible by the progressive attitude of the company, which was ambitious to erect buildings which would add to rather than detract from the expected high-class suburban development of this territory. At the same time, it was desired to have permanent structures that could be maintained at less expense than wooden or brick buildings. Furthermore, the conditions under which the right-of-way was obtained at many places made it good business policy to put up structures which, though larger than actually necessary for passenger handling, could be used in part for rental purposes. For this reason, many of the stations have cafes, haberdasheries and other stores in addition to the usual magazine and candy stands. Some stations also have a room for baggage handling. At certain places the station building is being utilized as a natural headquarters for the local real estate development. The stations, platforms and signal towers were designed by Reed & Stem, New York.


Front View of Station Located Over Four Track Line, Showing Store Frontage.

A study of different materials showed that concrete, plain or reinforced, according to conditions, was not only the most economical but that it could also lend itself to great variety in architectural treatment. One of its principal advantages was that it could be tied in with retaining walls, thus giving an unbroken architectural effect and making impressive looking structures of even the unimportant stations. Thus, the back of many stations is merely a continuation of the retaining walls, except that windows have been furnished in the walls of the platforms to avoid the ugly effect which would be given by blind walls seen from outside the station. Many forms of construction were necessary, as some of the station structures are below the track level, others alongside the track and still others over the track.

Three distinct orders of architecture have been employed, namely, a modified Mission type from New York to East Sixth Street, Mount Vernon, and between Columbus Avenue, Mount Vernon, and New Rochelle; simplified Italian Renaissance on the White Plains branch, and Classic at the Third Street Station, Mount Vernon. A careful analysis of the possibilities of concrete for railway station use and the adoption of simple, though attractive, outlines made it possible to erect these structures for about 20 percent less than the cost of similar buildings in the vicinity of New York.

Construction of Stations


Interior of the North Avenue Station.

The constructional features common to all the stations are the use of concrete for the building walls, stairways and platforms. Hollow tile and cement are also used far walls and partitions. No exposed steel is used anywhere. except at North Avenue, where the vibration of the steel viaduct made the use of concrete impracticable. The fire-resisting qualities of all buildings are very high. as no wood is used in them except for doors and window frames. A material which combines attractiveness and cleanliness is the terrazzo facing which is used for all station interiors, including the ticket booths. This material can be easily washed with soap and water. Announcements can readily be pasted on it and as readily washed off when they become out of date.


Platform at North Avenue Station.

The entrances and exits to all station buildings have been laid out to future permanent grades, and where feasible a concourse for vehicles has been provided. The attractiveness of the stations is being enhanced also by the planting of trees, shrubs and hedges around them. The plants chosen are of hardy types which will require little or no care for maintenance. The station platforms, except over fills where no permanent foundation could be secured, are constructed of concrete slabs 6 in. thick. They have a wooden edging 3 in. thick to protect them from chipping, the top of this edging consisting of 1 in. material which can be easily removed by sections without injuring the rest of the platform. The entire edging can be taken off, however, should it be desired to operate freight trains over this line eventually. All station platforms are placed 3 3/4 in. below the level of the car platform to allow for the wear on wheels and bearings. Another interesting detail of the platform arrangement is that the benches are carried directly from brackets in the walls so that there are no legs around which dirt can accumulate.


Typical Station Platform Showing Benches on Wall Brackets.

All platform canopies, except at North Avenue, are carried on Doric columns, which are cast in cement. The platform walls, which are of the same construction as the floors, are invariably furnished with wired-glass, movable, steel-framed windows which serve the twofold purpose of giving additional light and air circulation in warm weather. The usual haphazard location for billboard advertising on station walls and interiors has been abandoned in favor of standard-size sinkages which are surrounded by a flush brass frame. These panels take two sizes of posters, namely, 2 ft. 6 in. x 3 ft. 10 in. and 3 ft. 6 in. x 7 ft. This method, combined with spacing, will give the station advertising a very attractive appearance.

Some unusual constructions were necessary in order to secure continuity by using concrete wherever possible. An interesting case is a cantilever butterfly-type shed built of concrete reinforced with steel rods, which has the unusually large overhang of 8 ft. This shed, which is installed at the Sixth Street Station, Mount Vernon, was shown on page 67 of the Electric Railway Journal May 25.


Rear View of Station Over Four Track Line.

Third Street Station, Mount Vernon

The number of the stations is so large and their arrangement so diverse that it would be impracticable to describe them individually. A few points may be noted, however, in connection with the classic design of the station at Third Street, Mount Vernon, which was illustrated on page 868 in the Electric Railway Journal for May 25. This building is particularly notable for its handsome arcade which serves a double purpose as follows: It gives access to the station proper, which was of necessity placed at the rear of the property, and it has made possible the utilization of the front portion for store space under such favorable terms that the rental is sufficient practically to cover the fixed charges on the investment. The stores and passages are so laid out as to give three frontages for the display windows. Marble was used for the arcade columns, partly to obtain a pleasing contrast with the concrete and cement and partly to avoid the unsightliness which concrete quickly assumes from discolorations, chipping and other disfigurement. Instead of the customary volutes of Italian Renaissance columns, each cap has a Mercury head and wings which form a very appropriate emblem for a high-speed railway. The same motive was worked in one of the cast cement cartouches in the pediment over this and other stations, where a Mercury staff, hourglass and winged wheel were used for decorative treatment. The other cartouche consists simply of a Mercury staff and the initials of the company. Of two circular designs, which are also used for the embellishment of this company's stations, but which are not illustrated, one consists of an acorn and oak leaf motive to signify strength, a sheaf of wheat for plenty and a Mercury staff for speed, while the second consists of a conventional oak tree and cornucopia. All ornamentation is confined to these simple and appropriate motives.


Typical Station Located at a High Embankment.

Operating and Maintenance Features of Stations

In designing the stations and platform construction due consideration was given to adapting them for heavy passenger traffic. For this reason the stairways and passageways between the platforms and ticket rooms are 8 ft. wide. All stairways are of concrete covered with Mason safety tread. The movement of passengers is also greatly facilitated by an efficient arrangement of ticket-booth turnstiles and exit gates. As shown in an accompanying plan and halftone illustration, passengers enter through turnstiles either to the right or left, according to their direction of travel. These turnstiles are usually of the Langslow reciprocating arm type and were chosen on account of their compactness and rapid action. The passengers who depart from either platform through the ticket office must pass through the exits, which normally are closed by curved tubular gates. On leaving they drop their tickets in Cleveland ticket boxes. The opening and closing of these gates, as well as the operation of the turnstiles, are controlled from the ticket booth. It will be observed from the plan and the view of the North Avenue Station that these ticket booths are radically different from the usual wooden structures. Instead of small apertures for ticket selling, ample windows are provided on every side to give the ticket agent a comprehensive view of what is going on in the station. The booths are constructed to harmonize with the rest of the station interior.


Typical Station Platform.

Lighting and Heating of Stations

Provision has been made for heating the stations by steam where basement room for boilers is available. Elsewhere hot-water heating will have to be used. Current for lighting stations is obtained from the main power feeders by stepping the 11,000-volt current down to 220 volts through duplicate transformers at each station. A rather interesting detail is the type of platform lighting fixtures which was devised to avoid the unsightly effect of the ordinary gas-pipe gooseneck fixture. The new fixture consists of a wrought-iron pedestal through which the conduit is carried to form a circle from the apex of which the lamp and shade are carried. The pedestal has a switch chamber to which easy access is secured. These fixtures cost complete with shade about $12 each.


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