DYRE AVENUE 2012

by Kevin Walsh

When conceived, it was assumed that the former New York, Westchester and Boston RR would eventually reach Boston, but instead at its lengthiest, it ran from southern Mott Haven in the Bronx to two terminals in Westchester County, at White Plains and at Port Chester. Originally conceived in 1872, it was delayed for a few decades by the Panic of 1873, essentially a depression. Once emerging from receivership in the early 1900s, the railroad began construction in 1906 and built north, with the northernmost stations at Rye and Port Chester opening in 1928 and 1929. When most stations opened in 1912, the NYW&B was considered state of the art for its time, taking power from overhead lines, no grade crossings, high platforms to enable comfortable boarding, and spacious, architecturally attractive ticket offices/station houses.

Despite its advantages, the NYW&B was not a success. When it opened, the automobile industry was beginning to take off — by the 1920s, scenic parkways had appeared to handle intracity auto traffic, and the NYW&B could not really compete as a commuter railroad because it ended its run in Mott Haven and riders had to detrain and switch to the Third Avenue El to get to Manhattan. It soldiered on for a decade, but finally declared bankruptcy in 1937, ending service.

But all was not lost. The City of New York saw a golden opportunity to expand service into Pelham Gardens and Eastchester, and purchased the NYW&B right of way, stations, and tracks. After making modifications like adding a third rail, the NYW&B became the Dyre Avenue Shuttle in 1940, and after new tracks were installed to connect it with the White Plains Road el in the 1950s, the full-fledged Dyre Avenue Line, today the home of the #5 train.

In early April 2012 I walked the route, or the closest possible approximation along the tracks, from the Bronx Park East station all the way northeast to Dyre Avenue. It gave me a chance to traverse the Pelham Gardens and Eastchester sections of the Bronx, which I’m in just a few times per year, and to approach both the subway route and the neighborhoods it travels through with a fresh perspective.

Here’s the last stop on the line at Dyre Avenue. In 2012 it still boasted its 1950s-era lamp stanchions with incandescent lighting, but they have been replaced with twin T-shaped LED light poles.

As always, “comment…as you see fit.” I earn a small payment when you click on any ad on the site.

5/14/21

12 comments

Andy May 15, 2021 - 6:02 pm

Today (May 15) marks the 80th anniversary of the Dyre Avenue route as part of the NYC subway system.

Some words from my 2015 book, From a Nickel to a Token:
“In January 1940 the Board of Transportation acquired the NYWB right of way between East 180th Street and Dyre Avenue for $1,875,000. An additional million dollars was spent to install a third rail system, old BMT elevated signals, modify platforms for IRT cars, and rehabilitate twenty old Manhattan elevated cars for the service. The five new stations were modified for turnstile fare collection. The new extension opened on May 15, 1941.”

At East 180th St. a free transfer through a passageway on street floor of the old NYW&B office building connected to/from the IRT White Plains Road line. Interestingly, the Dyre line was shown on subway maps as a blue (IRT) route, but it was officially an IND route, whose operating crews were on the IND seniority list. That all changed in in 1957. Again, borrowing words from my book, the Dyre Line officially became an IRT (A Division today) route:

“Upon completion of a $3,000,000 track connection on May 4, 1957, Seventh Avenue #2 express trains began operating between East 180th Street and Dyre Avenue, permitting the old station at East 180th to close. In 1965 the Lexington Avenue #5 express became the Dyre Avenue branch service when the #2 train was shifted full time to the White Plains Road-East 241st Street branch. Today the #5 still performs that function.”

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Kevin Walsh May 16, 2021 - 11:18 am

You wish the MTA could do innovative solutions like this with existing trackways. The High Line was a lost opportunity to extend the #7 south to Greenwich Village.

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Ron S May 16, 2021 - 11:58 am

Not a surprise to subway buffs, but as a note to everyone else, you can see the railroad origins of the #5 line by looking at how far apart the stations are.

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Bill May 16, 2021 - 7:09 pm

I went to White Plains a few years ago to see the existing right of way. The platforms are still there at Gedney Way, I think that’s the name of the street. It’s a powerful feeling standing on any long-abandoned linear transportation. You keep thinking the train is going to come, even if it hasn’t for decades.

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Andy May 17, 2021 - 11:34 am

Went onto Google Street and it shows a greenway and walking trail at that location. Photo did not show any platforms, but there certainly was a station on the NYWB called Gedney Way. Where were the platforms in relation to Gedney Way – south or north? Thanks – I’m curious.

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Bill May 18, 2021 - 9:44 am

Just south of Gedney Way. This was in winter 2012. Maybe there weren’t platforms you can stand on, I can’t remember, but there were certainly concrete platform supports at the very least, on both sides of the former tracks and not buried or hidden in brush, they were very apparent and there were more than a few of them.

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Bill May 18, 2021 - 9:52 am

Sorry, it was the Ridgway station, a bit south of Gedney Way, that still has the platform supports. http://rrpicturearchives.net/archiveThumbs.aspx?id=1135

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Andy May 19, 2021 - 9:07 pm

OK thank you for providing this info. Will need to take a ride there and have a look.

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John Garnett May 17, 2021 - 8:22 pm

Wow… happen to be reading this while passing over the former Bryant Ave / Mamaroneck Ave ROW trench

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redstaterefugee May 18, 2021 - 9:49 am Reply
Tal Barzilai May 20, 2021 - 9:22 am

Speaking of the NY&W RR, if you go to the restrooms by the food court at the Westchester Mall in White Plains, there is a small exhibit that talks about this very line especially since the mall itself was built over the very terminal.

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Andre May 20, 2021 - 7:46 pm

There is evidence of the line in Pelham manor as well off of Lincoln ave

Reply

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