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West 23 Street Freight Station / New York Lake Erie & Western Railroad

INDUSTRIAL, OFFLINE TERMINAL RAILROADS & RAIL-MARINE OPERATIONS
OF BROOKLYN, QUEENS, STATEN ISLAND, BRONX & MANHATTAN:


WEST 23TH STREET FREIGHT STATION
Manhattan

baggage express west 22 nd depot

NEW YORK, LAKE ERIE & WESTERN / ERIE RAILROAD

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updated:
MONDAY, 08 MARCH 2010 - 17:45


update summary:

date: chapter:
photo of #612 added 08 March 2010 Locomotive & Photos

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INDEX

Overview

Property & Trackage Float bridge
Locomotive Overview
 & Photos

Locomotive Roster
builders data, disposition info

Marine Equipment
Overview & Roster

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Overview

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   Prior to the Erie Railroad relocating to West 28th Street, their operation located on the West Side of Manhattan was originally located at West 23rd Street between Twelfth and Eleventh Avenues.

   According to research by Tom Flagg and Dave Pearce in their Transfer #39 feature article; this Erie West 23rd Street Terminal started operation in 1868, however carfloat service did not begin until 1893.

   Therefore, it is understood that from 1868 through 1893, this was a freight house only, receiving said freight via the New York, Lake Erie & Western Railroad "Pavonia Avenue" ferry at West 23rd Street.

   In 1893, two significant events occurred:
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  1. The railroad known as the New York, Lake Erie & Western Railroad filed for bankruptcy. In 1895 it was reorganized in the Erie Railroad Company. For simplicity, regardless of the date; it will be referred to as the Erie Railroad on this webpage.
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  2. A float bridge was installed at the West 23rd Street facility, and with it, a small team yard. This float bridge would be located to the south of the already existing West Twenty-Third Street Ferry.

   The Erie West 23 Street Freight Station closed in 1901 and operations were relocated to the newly constructed West 28th Street Freight Station.

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Property & Trackage

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    If understood correctly, this West 23rd Street property consisted of solely of a freight station with no trackage. The Erie's presence in the area began with baggage house located on West 24th Street, which is believed to have been the predecessor to the West 23rd Street Freight House. This baggage house is marked in the 1885 E. Robinson Property Map below. This structure, located on West 24th Street between Eleventh and Tenth Avenues was noted as being "Erie Baggage / Baggage Express".

   The block where the future West 23rd Street Freight Station would be located has apparently been subdivided into lots, and with the exception of the a structure on the northwest corner of West 22nd Street and Eleventh Avenue, none of the other lots appear to be improved. 

   It should be noted, that the tracks shown running in the street on West 23rd Street and along Tenth Avenue, belong to the 23rd Street Railway, a passenger carrying street car.


1885 - E. Robinson Property Map
NYPL Digital Archives

added 23 June 2009

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   As evidenced by the 1891 G. W. Bromley Property Map below, a long narrow freight house now occupies the southern border of the block (Block #668). No trackage is shown, but the outline of what appears to be float bridge and fender pier can be seen between the Pavonia Ferry Terminal Building and the Albany Day Line Pier.


1891 - G. W. Bromley Property Map
NYPL Digital Archives

added 23 June 2009

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   Ralph Heiss (who inspired this page to be created), contributed two maps of the area, dated 1890 and 1899. The following map (dated 1899), when compared with the 1890 version, shows no changes in trackage or structures for that nine year period for this property.

   The map below had been modified slightly for clarity.


1890 & 1899
courtesy of R. Heiss

added 23 June 2009

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   Pending bulkhead improvements and the extension and connection of Twelfth Avenue by the City of New York, as well as congested nature of the freight yard due to increased freight traffic, the Erie Railroad would begin to purchase land in the West 28th Street vicinity in 1901, and would relocate their terminal a few short blocks north to West 28th Street sometime circa 1902 - 1903.

   The newspaper article seen below, carried in the New York Times issue of April 10, 1901; states that the West 23rd Street property was in fact condemned by the City of New York for the purpose of constructing a new seawall (bulkhead), and we find the property at West 28th Street has in fact already been purchased.

  Also, an interesting fact mentioned in this article, is that the West 23rd Street property was leased but not owned by the Erie Railroad.


April 10, 1901
New York Times Archives

added 24 June 2009

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   The following image is a 1902 G. W. Bromley Property Map furnished by Tom Flagg. The trackage shown in this property map, (which can never be held as completely accurate) does closely conform to the map above, although the float bridge and fender pier are not shown (and we know the tracks did not just run into the water!).

   One must keep in mind, at the time of the issue date (1902) of this map, the Erie was in the process of vacating the property (and in all likelihood this map was just an updated version of a previous issue). and in all probability had already vacated the property this map was released by the publisher.


1902 G. W. Bromley Property Map
courtesy of T. Flagg

added 24 June 2009

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   Regardless of whichever map one references, the Erie West 23rd Street Freight Station was a spartan affair, due to the limited property space. The overall size of the yard was, when compared to the later terminal due north; a meager 201 feet by 384 feet, with a long narrow freight house occupying the south property border.

   As indicated by the Cameron Blaikie diagram below (slightly modified by author), which appeared in the October 1948 issue of Erie Railroad Magazine, the West 23rd Street location was significantly smaller than the West 28th Street facility.

   Using the dimensions shown, the West 23rd Street property averaged 384 feet in length, by 200 feet in width. This roughly equals 78,053 square feet.

   The diagram below also shows that the railroad considered expanding across Eleventh Avenue to the block immediately east. We know from history, this was not to be. The Flagg / Pearce article states that the Blaikie article gives no sources or citations, so it is unknown where Blaikie obtained this info. Naturally anyone with information is invited to contribute it here.

   Due to the angle of Twelfth Avenue, the West 28th Street Property averaged 747 feet in length (725 feet in length on West 28th Street and 770 feet in length on West 29th Street respectively), with roughly the same 201 foot width.

   These dimensions total to 151,742 square feet, which is almost twice the amount of square footage of the West 23rd Street facility; and without crossing a city thoroughfare!


Erie Railroad Magazine - October 1948
C. Blaikie, Jr. original diagram
modified by author

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   Please refer to the Erie Railroad West 28th Street Freight Station webpage for the history and operations after this date.

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Float Bridge

   As stated above, the float bridge at this location was installed 1893, and remained in service until the facility was relocated to West 28th Street. circa 1902-1903.

   It is currently unknown what type of float bridge that was located at this facility.

   It is assumed that the float bridge located at the West 23rd Street Freight Station was a wood Howe Truss pontoon supported type, as this was the common type of float bridge for that era.

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Locomotive Overview

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   It is currently unknown which locomotives operated at the West 23rd Street Freight Station.

   Trackage shown on the 1899 Map above, is fairly straight with moderate curves which would allow the use of longer wheelbase 0-6-0T locomotives.

   This author has run across photographs and construction information of tank locomotives operated by the New York, Lake Erie & Western (and subsequently the Erie Railroad) of 0-4-0T and 0-4-2T and 0-6-0T wheel arrangement.

   Either of these types could have been used at this facility.

   Potential candidates for use at the West 23rd Street Freight Station are: #612 (ex #412) which was confirmed to have been used at the West 28th Street facility and possibly #416. Keep in mind, while #612 has been confirmed to have operated at West 28th Street, neither have been confirmed for use at West 23rd Street.

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#612

   Schuyler Larrabee, who was very kind in furnishing the following information of #612:  

"612 is a member of the next to last class built before the "modern" series began, the B5 and B6 classes. I have a copy of the photo you sent. 612 was built in 1887, in the Susquehanna Shops (Susquehanna, PA) of the ERIE as New York, Lake Erie & Western (an earlier corporate manifestation of the ERIE) 25.

It was renumbered to 412 in 1889, and again to 612 in 1895. In 1914, it was rebuilt to the form you see in your photograph. I don't think I have a photo of these engines as built, only as renovated.

No. 612 was sold for scrap in 1927."

   This being the case, #612 existed during the same tenure as the service dates for the West 23rd Street Freight Station, and is a most potential candidate for having worked here.

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 #416

   Another likely candidate is locomotive #416, an 0-4-2T type. The Salamanca Rail Museum fortunately has an image of #416.

   This photograph, taken from a glass-plate negative dated 1886; shows New York, Lake Erie and Western Railroad #416 in Jersey City, New Jersey; so we know this locomotive operated just across the river from the West 23rd Street Freight Station.

   This locomotive was constructed by Brooks (c/n 569) in August, 1881. It was originally New York Lake Erie & Western #1, and would be rebuilt in 1885 and then renumbered to #4 in 1889.

   In 1895 it was renumbered once again to Erie Railroad #36 and was sold for scrap in April 1913.

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#612 - September 1927? - West 28th Street Yard, New York, NY
Date is suspect as there is quite a bit of snow on the ground for September!
unknown photographer
Bob's Photo archives
authors collection

added 08 March 2010

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#612 - September 1927? - West 28th Street Yard, New York, NY
Appears to be taken a few seconds after photo above.
unknown photographer
courtesy of D. Ramos

added 22 June 2009

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#416 - Jersey City, NJ
courtesy of the Salamanca Rail Museum, Salamanca, NY

added 22 June 2009

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West 23th Street Freight Station (ERR) Locomotive Roster

railroad number / name builder c/n build
date

gauge
wheel
arrangement
model driver
dia.

cylinders

acquired

disposition
notes ref
Erie #416* Brooks 569 8/1881 std.? 0-4-2T   48" 16" x 22" new sold for scrap, 1913 unconfirmed if
used at W23

[a]
 
Erie #612 Susquehanna (Erie)   1887 std. 0-6-0T       new sold for scrap, 1927 unconfirmed if
used at W23

[b]
 

Locomotive Footnotes:

[a]

Built by Brooks in August 1881 as New York, Lake Erie & Western #1
Renumbered to #416 (unknown date - possibly 1889)
Rebuilt in September 1885
Renumbered  to #4 in 1889
Became Erie Railroad  #36 in 1895.
Sold for scrap in April 1913
[b] Information courtesy of Schulyer Larrabee:
Built by Susquehanna Shops (Susquehanna, PA) in 1887 as New York, Lake Erie & Western #25.
Renumbered to #412 in 1889.
Renumbered to #612 in 1895.
Rebuilt in 1914
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Sold for scrap in 1927.

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Marine Vessels & Equipment

 Being a Erie Railroad operation, and subsequently an Erie - Lackawanna; the Pier Stations and float bridge would have been serviced by Erie / Erie Lackawanna Railroad tugboats, carfloats and lighters.

   Keeping in mind the large amount of marine equipment that the Erie / Erie - Lackawanna Railroad owned and operated a Marine Roster on this website would not be beneficial or justified; and therefore will not be forthcoming.

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