The Hub - The Bronx

The trench from Port Morris up to St. Mary's Park is extremely narrow and surrounded by formidable industrial buildings. Accordingly, it would probably not be desirable to place a stop on the line until it gets into more spacious environs north of St. Mary's Park.

St. Mary's Park Tunnel

The "highlight" of the Port Morris Branch is a deep bore tunnel under St. Mary's Park. It is not easily (or legally) accessible from the street so I don't have any pictures from inside. But I would imagine that if there isn't too much standing water in it, there probably are street people calling it home. It would doubtless be a stimulating walk.

Trench coming from the south into St. Mary's Park
7/18/2008 03:31 PM
Trench coming from the south into St. Mary's Park
Jackson Avenue running over the southern portal of the tunnel
7/18/2008 03:35 PM
Jackson Avenue running over the southern portal of the tunnel
Jackson Avenue running over the southern portal of the tunnel
7/18/2008 03:27 PM
Jackson Avenue running over the southern portal of the tunnel
Where the tunnel runs off the southeast end of St. Mary's Park
7/18/2008 03:27 PM
Where the tunnel runs off the southeast end of St. Mary's Park

St. Mary's Park was part of the estate of Jonas Bronck (1600-1643), for whom the Bronx is named. The land was later owned by Gouverneur Morris (1752-1816). The land was annexed by the City of New York in 1874 and following the efforts of journalist John Mullaly (1835-1915), the 1884 New Parks Act lead to the purchase of land between 1888 and 1890 for six parks in the Bronx. This 35-acre park was named after the Episcopal church that stood three blocks to the west until 1959.

The tunnel under the park was dug in 1903 as part of a grade-crossing elimination project for the entire Port Morris Branch.

St. Mary's Park baseball field
7/18/2008 03:30 PM
St. Mary's Park baseball field
Southeast corner of St. Mary's Park
7/18/2008 03:26 PM
Southeast corner of St. Mary's Park
Redeveloped low-rise multi-family dwellings south of the park
7/18/2008 03:09 PM
Redeveloped low-rise multi-family dwellings south of the park
A southern gate entrance to the park
7/18/2008 03:08 PM
A southern gate entrance to the park
Exposed rock outcroppings in the center of the park
7/18/2008 03:06 PM
Exposed rock outcroppings in the center of the park
Walkway through the park
7/18/2008 03:05 PM
Walkway through the park
Playground in the northwest part of the park
7/18/2008 03:03 PM
Playground in the northwest part of the park
Pathway into the park over the tunnel
7/18/2008 02:58 PM
Pathway into the park over the tunnel
Tunnel crossing under East 149th Street at the northwest corner of the park
7/18/2008 02:57 PM
Tunnel crossing under East 149th Street at the northwest corner of the park
Tunnel crossing under a vacant lot at the corner of 149th Street and St. Ann's Avenue
7/18/2008 02:56 PM
Tunnel crossing under a vacant lot at the corner of 149th Street and St. Ann's Avenue
Parks Department district headquarters at the northwest corner of the park
7/18/2008 02:55 PM
Parks Department district headquarters at the northwest corner of the park
I.S. 162 - just east of the tunnel
7/18/2008 02:54 PM
I.S. 162 - just east of the tunnel
St. Mary's Park Tunnel passing under St. Ann's Avenue
7/18/2008 02:54 PM
St. Mary's Park Tunnel passing under St. Ann's Avenue
Meager fencing on the north portal of the St. Mary's Park tunnel
7/18/2008 02:53 PM
Meager fencing on the north portal of the St. Mary's Park tunnel
Short section of trench between Westchester Ave. and the St. Mary's Park tunnel
7/18/2008 02:53 PM
Short section of trench between Westchester Ave. and the St. Mary's Park tunnel

Starting in the early 1970s, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development gave the Boston real estate company Continental Wingate a number of crumbling buildings here in the South Bronx along with mortgage guarantees, tax breaks and federal subsidies. This early example of privatization was intended to help improve the quality of life here, but, instead, the company became the area's biggest slumlord. In the mid 1990s, tenants organized to convince HUD to investigate the company. The probe found rampant negligence and fraud, compounded by HUD secretary Andrew Cuomo apparently looking the other way while the government and residents were fleeced by the company's owner, Gerald Schuster, who was a major Democratic donor. Once Continental Wingate was out of the picture, management was taken over by the Diego Beekman Mutual Housing Association, a non-profit entity run by tenants and community leaders.

Sign in front of a vacant lot
7/18/2008 03:11 PM
Sign in front of a vacant lot
Diego Beekman Mutual Housing Association
7/18/2008 03:11 PM
Diego Beekman Mutual Housing Association
Diego Beekman Mutual Housing Association
7/18/2008 03:12 PM
Diego Beekman Mutual Housing Association
Vacant lot - St. Ann's Avenue at 142nd Street
7/18/2008 03:11 PM
Vacant lot - St. Ann's Avenue at 142nd Street
Apartment buildings on East 141st Street
7/18/2008 03:15 PM
Apartment buildings on East 141st Street
Closed deli in an apartment building on East 141st Street
7/18/2008 03:17 PM
Closed deli in an apartment building on East 141st Street
Old rowhouses on Jackson Avenue north of 141st Street
7/18/2008 03:21 PM
Old rowhouses on Jackson Avenue north of 141st Street
New rowhouses on Jackson Avenue north of 142nd Street
7/18/2008 03:24 PM
New rowhouses on Jackson Avenue north of 142nd Street

Westchester Avenue Station

The Port Morris Branch crosses under Westchester Avenue between Brook Avenue and St. Ann's Avenue. The White Plains Road line of the IRT (#2 train) emerges from a tunnel just east of the Port Morris Branch and is elevated over Westchester Avenue when it crosses the Port Morris Branch. Unfortunately, the crossing is about equidistant between the 3rd Ave./149th Street Station to the west and the Jackson Avenue Station to the east, making a extremely unlikely that a tunnel or viaduct would be built for direct transfer between the Port Morris Branch and the IRT.

However, there is a post office and vacant lots adjacent to the tracks at this point, so it might still be a good spot for a station. Curiously, my 2006 Hagstrom map gives the path of the Port Morris Branch as Hegney Place and there is a corresponding street sign on the south side of Westchester Ave. Hegney Place does run intermittently along the tracks north of here, so perhaps there is/was consideration of filling in the trench and converting it to a street.

Line hidden behind trees, viewed from the east on the Westchester Ave. IRT
7/18/2008 12:29 PM
Line hidden behind trees, viewed from the east on the Westchester Ave. IRT
Under the IRT Jackson Ave. Station
7/18/2008 12:31 PM
Under the IRT Jackson Ave. Station
St. Mary's Park Houses
7/18/2008 12:32 PM
St. Mary's Park Houses
The Westchester Ave. IRT headed south
7/18/2008 12:33 PM
The Westchester Ave. IRT headed south
Under the IRT
7/18/2008 02:47 PM
Under the IRT
IRT passing the prison on Westchester Avenue
7/18/2008 02:48 PM
IRT passing the prison on Westchester Avenue
IRT over Westchester Avenue at Eagle Avenue
7/18/2008 02:51 PM
IRT over Westchester Avenue at Eagle Avenue
The IRT descending into the tunnel at Bergen Avenue
7/18/2008 02:48 PM
The IRT descending into the tunnel at Bergen Avenue
Church and row houses on Caldwell Ave.
7/18/2008 12:35 PM
Church and row houses on Caldwell Ave.
Substation off the Westchester Ave. IRT
7/18/2008 12:35 PM
Substation off the Westchester Ave. IRT
13,200 volts
7/18/2008 02:51 PM
13,200 volts
Post Office off St
7/18/2008 12:36 PM
Post Office off St
Westchester Ave. IRT crossing over the Port Morris Branch
7/18/2008 12:36 PM
Westchester Ave. IRT crossing over the Port Morris Branch
Port Morris Branch headed north from Westchester Ave. - site of future subway station?
7/18/2008 12:37 PM
Port Morris Branch headed north from Westchester Ave. - site of future subway station?
Westchester Ave. bridge over the Port Morris Branch
7/18/2008 12:37 PM
Westchester Ave. bridge over the Port Morris Branch
Overgrown Port Morris Branch headed south from Westchester Ave.
7/18/2008 12:38 PM
Overgrown Port Morris Branch headed south from Westchester Ave.
Sign for Hegney Place off Westchester Ave. at the Port Morris Branch trench
7/18/2008 12:38 PM
Sign for Hegney Place off Westchester Ave. at the Port Morris Branch trench
Breeched fence beside the trench, giving squatters access
7/18/2008 12:39 PM
Breeched fence beside the trench, giving squatters access
#2 IRT train passing over the trench
7/18/2008 12:39 PM
#2 IRT train passing over the trench
Vacant lot east of the tracks and south of Westchester Ave. - potential station location?
7/18/2008 12:40 PM
Vacant lot east of the tracks and south of Westchester Ave. - potential station location?
Older row houses and newer apartment buildings on St. Ann's Ave.
7/18/2008 12:42 PM
Older row houses and newer apartment buildings on St. Ann's Ave.
Jet leaving Laguardia Airport - there is considerable jet noise in this neighborhood
7/18/2008 12:42 PM
Jet leaving Laguardia Airport - there is considerable jet noise in this neighborhood

West of the potential Westchester Avenue station is a vibrant shopping district on Third Avenue.

Third Avenue retail block
7/18/2008 02:40 PM
Third Avenue retail block
Third Avenue retail block
7/18/2008 02:41 PM
Third Avenue retail block
Third Avenue retail block
7/18/2008 02:42 PM
Third Avenue retail block
Third Avenue retail block
7/18/2008 02:42 PM
Third Avenue retail block
Older building off Third Avenue
7/18/2008 02:39 PM
Older building off Third Avenue
Vacant lot west of the Westchester Avenue Yard
7/18/2008 02:44 PM
Vacant lot west of the Westchester Avenue Yard
Vacant lot west of the Westchester Avenue Yard
7/18/2008 02:45 PM
Vacant lot west of the Westchester Avenue Yard

The area just north of Westchester Avenue between Brook Avenue and St. Ann's Avenue seems to have been the Westchester Avenue Yard at an intermediate point between the Oak Point yard to the south and the connection to the Harlem Line to the north. The southern part of the yard area has been taken over by South Bronx High School for multi-sport athletic fields (the Merrill Lynch Field of Dreams). A corridor has been left for the rail line right-of-way and there is a pedestrian bridge over the line. The northern part of the former yard is unimproved and accessible by pedestrians from the west. Given it's unimprovement and accessibility, this may be the easiest place to build platforms and a new station, although it puts transferrees a block further away from the IRT.

Field of Dreams
7/18/2008 02:46 PM
Field of Dreams
Field of Dreams track
7/18/2008 02:47 PM
Field of Dreams track
Field of Dreams baseball diamond
7/18/2008 02:37 PM
Field of Dreams baseball diamond
Old yard retaining wall by the Field of Dreams
7/18/2008 02:37 PM
Old yard retaining wall by the Field of Dreams
Brooke Avenue along the Field of Dreams
7/18/2008 02:37 PM
Brooke Avenue along the Field of Dreams
Brooke Avenue running along the trench at 157th Street
7/18/2008 02:33 PM
Brooke Avenue running along the trench at 157th Street
Open area in the Westchester Avenue Yard north of the athletic fields
7/18/2008 02:34 PM
Open area in the Westchester Avenue Yard north of the athletic fields
Westchester Avenue yard
7/18/2008 02:33 PM
Westchester Avenue yard

Parts of the wall have what appears to be some kind of Art deco ornamentation. However, a gentleman who used to work for NYC Transit told me that they are probably clay liners for cable ducts that separated power cables for the third rail. Some of the ducts appear to be covered over with a concrete shell that was presumably removed when the cables were removed - either by the railroad or by metal scavengers from the neighborhood.

Cable ducts
7/18/2008 02:34 PM
Cable ducts
Cable ducts
7/18/2008 02:35 PM
Cable ducts
Westchester Avenue Yard Retaining wall
7/18/2008 02:34 PM
Westchester Avenue Yard Retaining wall
Westchester Avenue yard looking north into the trench
7/18/2008 02:35 PM
Westchester Avenue yard looking north into the trench
Cable ducts on the south side of the bridge
7/18/2008 12:53 PM
Cable ducts on the south side of the bridge
Looking south on the right of way and the old railyard
7/18/2008 12:53 PM
Looking south on the right of way and the old railyard
Long-dead car in the old railyard
7/18/2008 12:54 PM
Long-dead car in the old railyard
The pedestrian overpass over the right-of-way
7/18/2008 12:45 PM
The pedestrian overpass over the right-of-way
Residual gravel ballast on the right-of-way
7/18/2008 12:45 PM
Residual gravel ballast on the right-of-way
Track use restriction sign
7/18/2008 12:45 PM
Track use restriction sign
Closed gate on the pedestrian overpass prohibiting access to the field of dreams
7/18/2008 12:46 PM
Closed gate on the pedestrian overpass prohibiting access to the field of dreams
Looking north on the right-of-way under the pedestrian bridge
7/18/2008 12:47 PM
Looking north on the right-of-way under the pedestrian bridge
Old cast iron fence where Rae Street dead ends into the right-of-way
7/18/2008 12:47 PM
Old cast iron fence where Rae Street dead ends into the right-of-way
Fence ornament closeup
7/18/2008 12:47 PM
Fence ornament closeup

In keeping with the initiative to break large, impersonal (and crime-ridden) high schools into smaller academies (although still housed in the same large, monolithic buildings), the South Bronx campus is home to a number of these smaller schools.

Fence around Crotona Academy - school looks like a prison
7/18/2008 12:42 PM
Fence around Crotona Academy - school looks like a prison
South Bronx High School
7/18/2008 12:43 PM
South Bronx High School
Front entrance to South Bronx High School - listing academies
7/18/2008 12:49 PM
Front entrance to South Bronx High School - listing academies
The rear (west side) of South Bronx HS
7/18/2008 12:45 PM
The rear (west side) of South Bronx HS
Looking south on St. Ann's Avenue toward the elevated IRT line
7/18/2008 12:43 PM
Looking south on St. Ann's Avenue toward the elevated IRT line
Old tenament that survived the 70s across from the school-with Puerto Rican flag
7/18/2008 12:49 PM
Old tenament that survived the 70s across from the school-with Puerto Rican flag
Newer low-rise public housing across from the school - where tenaments didn't survive the 70s
7/18/2008 12:49 PM
Newer low-rise public housing across from the school - where tenaments didn't survive the 70s
Bronxchester Houses
7/18/2008 12:51 PM
Bronxchester Houses
Bronxchester Houses
7/18/2008 12:52 PM
Bronxchester Houses
Parking lot on a hill - 156th Street at St. Ann's Avenue
7/18/2008 12:51 PM
Parking lot on a hill - 156th Street at St. Ann's Avenue