Decayed shells of two lovely Bronx train stations

It’s a strip mall that has seen better days—a long, two-story shell of a building housing a chicken joint, a pizza and gyro shop, and a couple of other businesses in the shadow of the Bronx’s Bruckner Expressway.

But a closer look reveals some curious details—like the pointed dormer windows set inside a barn-like sloping roof. This stretch of retail had to start out as something more majestic.

Turns out it did: It was the Hunts Point Avenue railroad station, built in 1909 by the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad—which anticipated a huge demand for train service in the once-bucolic Bronx, thanks to subway development and a population boom.

An even biggest surprise than seeing the remains of such a lovely station is the name of the architect behind it: Cass Gilbert, better known as the genius behind the Woolworth Building and the Custom House at the foot of Broadway, among other architectural beauties.

The station is one of several that Gilbert designed in the Bronx, and he  seemed to have a lot of fun with this one.

The Hunts Point station was French Renaissance in design,” states this Lehman College site. “It had a wide overhanging hipped roof with pointed lacy dormer windows, spires, tiling and crenellations.”

The station connected commuters to Grand Central until the 1930s, when a lack of passengers made it financially impossible to keep open. At some point, it was repurposed for retail, its ornaments stripped off or obscured beneath 1970s-style roll-down gates and a hulking freeway.

Another of Gilbert’s Bronx railroad stations also pretty much lies in ruin: the Westchester Avenue station.

This terra cotta jewel was built in 1908 by the same railroad and it too shut down in the 1930s. Today it remains under the Bronx’s Sheridan Expressway and besides Concrete Plant Park, abandoned.

[Second photo: MCNY/Wurtz Bros., x2010.7.1.1841; fourth photo: Architectural Record, 1908; fifth photo: MCNY/Wurtz Bros., x2010.7.1.1842; sixth photo: Wikipedia]

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27 Responses to “Decayed shells of two lovely Bronx train stations”

  1. Tom B Says:

    The abandoned Westchester Ave Train Station is now owned by AMTRAK. I wonder if real estate taxes on this structure are still being collected.

  2. chris wild Says:

    How sad

  3. Benjamin Feldman Says:

    Wow! More about a 19th century long-forgotten Hunts Point site here: http://newyorkwanderer.com/a-hunts-point-hymnal/

  4. Zoé Says:

    It’s a shame that it wasn’t preserved & leased for retail without altering the facade to this extent (including whatever else in the interior could have been preserved). As done w/ the disused stations on the New Haven commuter line. (Between Westchester & New Haven). The old iron gates were less obtrusive but cost more.

    Despite the artist in me liking the high energy colours on these signs & gates. The newer (than iron) rolling gates are great for graffiti murals (*dodges half full paper coffee cups thrown*)

  5. David H Lippman Says:

    With all the development going on in New York and the way people are being pushed into the “outer boroughs,” it’ll be interesting to see if that area gets filled up with residents and the MTA sees a need to re-open train service to those stations.

    • Zoé Says:

      You’re right – Fairfield CT (one hour from Manhattan) had to build a new train station recently (3rd station in town) due most likely to pricing exiled NYers. (Pop. 2000: 57,340 & in 2016: 61,114).

      • David H Lippman Says:

        Doubtless when that neighborhood is full of rich folks, they will have the power and ability to pressure the city into re-opening those stations, with modern facilities and the classic Cass Gilbert fronts.

      • Zoé Says:

        Exactly. And hence increasing the population of nearby CT cities Stamford & Bridgeport. Upside: Bridgeport is now becoming very arts oriented. Downside: It’s one of the most dangerous cities in the US. (Hence exiled NYers being able to afford the lower rents & home prices).

      • David H Lippman Says:

        What baffles me is that there are enough millionaires in the world who can afford to live in New York….

      • Zoé Says:

        Lol. Well maybe the billionaires make up the remainder.

  6. Drew Cucuzza Says:

    Zoe, I’d say Bridgeport is *trying* to become very arts oriented, it’s not there yet. I’ve worked there for 20 years and I’d say it’s certainly improved arts wise, but it always seems two steps forward, one step back.

    • Zoé Says:

      I was *trying* to be polite – lol. Bridgeport is also *trying* not to be one of the US top murder cities. You’re lucky you work there vs. live (?). I’m looking for another apartment now & even Yonkers is safer – lol. In defense of Bridgeport – New Haven is still violent as well…

      • Zoé Says:

        … I love Bridgeport though. People on this blog may be interested in the Barnum Museum downtown. I saw a great Salvador Dali show of his pieces executed by the Italian goldsmith Verdura at Art & Industry in the mid 70s (now the Discovery Museum) that set me on my life’s occupation path.

        It’s still preferable to the illegally anti-low income housing McMansion communities nearby that tear down 18th & 19th c. homes like they are dollhouses.

    • Zoé Says:

      It does have more than one building of artists studios lofts & also a recording studio where a lot of NYC & internationally known artists have recorded. And some galleries. And that annual studio crawl. Just ignore the food deserts & bullets!

      • ephemeralnewyork Says:

        I’ve always wanted to go to the Barnum Museum; what would 19th century New York City have been like without him?

      • Zoé Says:

        Well I have a crush on General Tom Thumb (Charles Sherwood Stratton) – also born in Bridgeport (like Mr.Barnum was no?). His tiny boots & jacket & carriage are there! Along w/ a lot of other interesting things I’m sure you would love to see.

        Beside the permanent displays they have great temporary shows & lectures etc. In fact I was going to comment saying they would probably LOVE a book talk from you like you gave in Norwalk.

        General Tom Thumb & Lavinia Warren are buried in Mountain Grove cemetery in Bridgeport also. (I wonder where her second husband is buried?). The General was only five when Mr.Barnum claimed he was a young adult! Lol.

        Unfortunately P.T.Barnum’s mansion was torn down; but a few years ago I saw that another seaside home he owned went on the market!

        The Barnum Museum is right downtown after you get off the train (1 1/2 hrs from Grand Central). It was damaged in the hurricane but restored & you cannot miss it in its Victorian beauty. (Trilby – I mean you also).

        Very nearby don’t miss the Bridgeport History Center in the Bridgeport Public Library. It is a treasure cave of history. Stacks & stacks of books & journals & ephemera. Also nearby is the Housatonic Museum of Art (part of a school). With works by well known 20th c. artists & also evolving contemporary exhibits.

        If you care to get back on the train (or highway if driving) to New Haven – you would love to see Union Station (old downtown train station) & the Museum of British Art/Yale & also the Rare Manuscript Library/Yale.

        If you get off one stop before Bridgeport at Fairfield you may like to see Ogden house; an original saltbox colonial w/ authentic kitchen garden run by the local historical society as a museum. (The society has a museum in town also. Some of the locals also had ties to NYC & there is a research/genealogy room there also).

        Please see the Barnum Museum! Do a reading/talk there!

      • Zoé Says:

        *I meant to write ‘revolving contemporary exhibits’ (at Housatonic Museum of Art) not ‘evolving’ … even though the latter word is more descriptive of what it feels like to make art & design & hang shows…

        Also Mr.Barnum was born nearby Bridgeport in Bethel CT. He lived in Bridgeport for so long I’d forgotten that.

      • Zoé Says:

        *Mr.Phineas Taylor Barnum is also buried at Mountain Grove Cemetery. 🎩

    • Drew Cucuzza Says:

      Zoe, I’ve lived in New Haven since 1996, owned a house here since 2001 and I’m not sure where you got the idea that we’ve got a violent rep, I usually only hear stuff like that in the comments of the NH Register. I’d say we’re more known for our restaurants these days.

      • Zoé Says:

        I didn’t get an “idea” or base it on or refer to a “rep”; I’m in the process of moving & had just looked at the most up to date crime statistics for the following:

        Yonkers
        Stamford
        Danbury
        Westport
        Fairfield
        Bridgeport
        New Haven
        New York City

        New Haven has dangerous neighbourhoods & safer neighbourhoods. As w/ Bridgeport. You can compare crime rates online.

        Yonkers – surprisingly – was equal to Fairfield. Stamford & Danbury had higher crime rates than both Yonkers & Fairfield. Hartford & New Haven & Bridgeport were the worst. Of those I looked up. I didn’t look up Waterbury.

        Also I’m not sure why you keep writing to me as if I’m from somewhere else.

    • Drew Cucuzza Says:

      Is it wrong that my first thought was “*Of course* you didn’t look up Waterbury”?

      What makes you think I’m writing you as if you’re from somewhere else? My first comment was simply an observation about the problems Bridgeport has in trying to revitalize itself. You clearly know and appreciate Bridgeport’s bright spots, of which there are many. I was involved in a couple of events in the McLevy Building before it was sold and have seen how well people turn out for the arts in Bridgeport. Kudos to you for knowing about Tarquin Studios, Peter Kadis has done a wonderful job with it and it’s been gratifying to see him get recognized for it.
      You actually made the point I should have made in the first place, that there are good neighborhoods and bad neighborhoods in New Haven. And while stats don’t lie, the differing neighborhoods and layouts of New Haven and Bridgeport lead to a very different experiences in dealing with crime for each city, at least in my experience working in one and living in the other. And I guess I just take exception to New Haven being seen as similar to Bridgeport after the progress we’ve made. Downtown Bridgeport is a ghost town on a Saturday night, whereas it’s hard to find parking in New Haven at the same time, but I know that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s any safer. I am not trying to be combative and my apologies if I inadvertently came off that way.

      • Zoé Says:

        Thank you but no apology is necessary! I wasn’t offended. Despite loving to drive I don’t have a car. So I walk everywhere in New Haven. And Bridgeport. And everywhere else. If not taking a train or taxi or Uber or bus. And I live in apartments (a little loft now). So I have to think about street crime. Even though unlike other people in NH I like walking through all the neighbourhoods. I lived in the LES when it was more dangerous – so I don’t avoid every place – just situations.

        What I was trying to say is that the reputation New Haven has *is* better than for example 1980s New Haven; but when I looked online at crime rates (coincidentally just before I’d written that here) I saw that NH still had a high crime rate. I was surprised about that also. Because everyone says it’s gotten better. But apparently the gang violence is worse. (According to an article on CT cities).

        I was surprised by all the numbers (one foot in NYC & one in CT since birth – which was a while ago). Yonkers has the same lower numbers as Fairfield. But my friend from there says it depends on which part also.

        Apologies Ephemeral – for derailing this thread!

        I may be moving to downtown NH btw. Maybe we will run into each other!🔑☕️ ☕️☕️🏢🏛⛪️🏫🏠🏚

      • Zoé Says:

        “Waterbury” lol! No – your mind naturally went there! Too bad all the places w/ some great lofts require body armour.

      • Zoé Says:

        & btw when I looked up those crime stats Westport was my control. Lol.

        And of course it had the lowest crime rate. All the human beings who grew up there can no longer afford to live there & don’t want to. Unless one is a billionaire who enjoys watching the callous destruction of 18th & 19th c. homes & forest to build giant scary looking Barbie houses.

  7. Guest Says:

    This is the location of the proposed Hunts Point Metro North station.

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