OLDNYC.COM--> B&O West 26th Street Railroad Yards --> Gallery #3

A closer view of the Starrett-Lehigh Building, which resides on the north side of West 26th Street.  This building served many of the railroad freight terminals and freight yards in the area.  Today, the building has been transformed to serve service-oriented businesses.  Internet-based businesses, advertising, publishing, as well as several other types of businesses are tenants of the building.



A front view of the Starrett-Lehigh Building.  The building harkens back to another era when the City of New York relied on freight trains and barges for the delivery of goods from the United States mainland.



West 26th Street, looking west.  To the left of the picture is the south side of West 26th Street, where the former B&O railroad yards once resided.  Today, large industrial-type buildings line the street.  To the right of the picture is the Starrett- Lehigh Building.



Map Courtesy of James Guthrie.



OldNYC.com frequent contributor James Guthrie explains: "Here are two pieces of U.S.Army Corps of Engineers Maps from the 1960s that you may feel free to post that explains the relationship of the different midtown terminals. I've given you the High Line to Gansevoort Street as well.

Be sure to note that the track maps do not necessarily represent the "real" trackage -- but only a representation or approximation.

Note that the B&O, LV E-L, NYC, and PRR are all essentially separate operations. I'm not even sure that the track connections shown actually existed -- and I must admit that although I explored this area in 1965, I did not make good notes nor remember all the details.

The Lehigh Terminal is the most interesting, and in the news lately with Martha Stewart and all; both the LV and the DL&W across the river invested heavily in their own warehouse buildings that would serve both rail and truck efficiently -- and in the spirit of no good deed goes unpunished, were soon forced to sell the facilities by the ICC, acting for Congress, that did not wish to see private enterprise (the railroads) control the fruits of government largesse (trucking)."



Map Courtesy of James Guthrie.



Special guest contributor to OldNYC.com, author of the book New York Harbor Railroads in Color, Volume 1, Thomas R. Flagg explains: "With regard to your OLDNYC page on the B&O 26th St. yard: I'm glad you included this page - it's certainly an area people might want to know about, even if it is now covered up with the Post Office repair facility.  And thanks for the mention of my NY Harbor RRs book!

You might want to add some further references to your page. For one, Christopher Gray wrote one of his columns on this site, in 1990 (I believe it's included in the Dover book that published the first 3 years or so of his columns). I helped Christopher research the history of that site.  It's also included in the index of his Streetscapes columns to which you provide a link on your site.

For those who want fuller coverage of this site, including photos of what it looked like in earlier years, I wrote a fairly extensive history of the B&O 26th St. Yard in the "Transfer", the journal of the Rail Marine Information Group. The article included information on what kinds of traffic came to the place, on the float bridge itself, on the locos used there, on the reasons why the B&O built such a large, innovative warehouse in 1908 (I don't mean the Starrett-Lehigh building across the street, which though far larger was in some ways not as innovative), and the rather sweeping changes the B&O made in the track plan over the years.

Information on joining the Rail-Marine group, or simply obtaining a copy of that back issue, can be found on the group's website:

www.trainweb.org/rmig

That site also contains a page for my Harbor RRs book, with errata and additions and other information:

www.trainweb.org/rmig/litera.html

Here is the full title of the article:

Flagg, Thomas, 1999: "Foothold in Gotham -- Off-Line Rail Terminals at the Port of New York, II: The Baltimore & Ohio RR's West 26th St. Yard" in Transfer No. 27, May-August 1999, pp. 3-18 (and both covers).

An expanded version of this article, with some great new photos of the yard in the 1930s, will be published later this year in the journal ("Sentinel") of the B&O Historical Society.  It will also have a much more accurate and detailed track plan, intended for the modeler as well as the railfan.

In addition, there may be a great addition to the Hudson River Park coming up: the barge at Pier 63 Maritime, at the foot of 24th St., which serves as a place for public access to the water and as a home for a number of boating groups (and the historic NYC fireboat Harvey) is in fact a former railroad carfloat, and the people who run it are hoping in the future to
move it a few up feet up the river and connect it to the float bridge, which is now in the process of restoration by the Hudson River Park Trust.  There it will serve as an historic reminder of the major role that the railroad marine fleet played at this waterfront and in the economy of New York City.
 

Epilogue:

To date, this is one of the quickest Virtual Tours performed at OldNYC.com.  The quickness of the tour should not discredit the relevance of the scenes that we witnessed. One has to be aware that this particular tour just represents a small portion of a once proud Port of New York infrastructure.  Most of the former freight operations infrastructure has been lost, either due to the ever changing land development of New York City, or to general decay due to environmental factors.  In any event, these structures are being lost on a daily basis, and every time this happens, we lose another piece of New York transportation history.
 

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