New York Westchester & Boston Railway

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The N Y W & B Ry on this manhole cover represents the same business identified by the inscription N Y W B on the facade of the elevated subway station located at 481 Morris Park Avenue at East 180th Street in the Bronx. In both cases the initials stand for the New York, Westchester & Boston Railway. Organized originally in 1872 as an ambitious project to construct a rail link from the Bronx in New York City to Boston, Massachusetts, the company seems to have accomplished nothing during its first thirty years.

This story in the Wall Street Journal, 13 January 1904, pg. 7, describes a company takeover that actually set the wheels in motion, "Wall Street capitalists have gained control of the New York, Westchester & Boston Railway Co. and have reorganized the board of directors, making Wm. L. Bull, former president of the stock exchange, president of the board. Counsel representing the new company has filed an application with the board of aldermen asking for permit to cross at an elevation about 65 streets in the Bronx. Dick & Robinson are members of the syndicate which has undertaken to finance the company and to provide funds for the entire construction and equipment of the road. The construction is to commence as soon as weather permits. The company will issue $15,000,000 first, mortgage 5% gold bonds. Mr. Bull, the president, says that the company has the right to come down through the Bronx to Harlem River without any consent of the board of aldermen. In order, however, to eliminate any possibility of conflict with the New York city officials, it has been decided to apply to the board of aldermen for its consent in the ordinary way. The route of the company runs from the Harlem River through West Farms, Westchester, Bay Chester, Mt. Vernon, Pelham Manor, Pelham, City of New Rochelle, Larchmont, Mamaroneck, Harrison Rye, to Portchester, with several branch lines."

At this point plans for an extension to Boston seem to have been abandoned, although that city's name was retained in the company name. Instead, termination was to be at the Connecticut state line in Port Chester, N. Y. This story in The Street Railway Journal, 6 February 1904, pg. 235, describes steps taken to move ahead with the project, "The New York, Westchester & Boston Railway Company, the rival of the New York & Port Chester Electric Railway, for the construction of a four-track, third-rail electric railway from New York to Port Chester, was given a hearing before the Railroad Committee of the Board of Aldermen of New York on Jan. 25, on its application for a franchise to cross the streets and avenues on its proposed route in the Borough of the Bronx. ... The checkered career of the company has already caused doubt in many minds as to the sincerity of its latest move. Organization was perfected in 1872, and in 1875 the company was placed in the hands of William T. Tomlinson as receiver. By a recent order of the Supreme Court Mr. Tomlinson transferred the assets of the company to George T. Forster, of New York, representing the new banking interests. The claim is made that under chapters 620 and 627, of the Laws of 1903, which exempts the time during which the road is in receiver's hands from the ten years in which a railroad company is required to complete its road, the company has fully seven years more to build its line; also that having been incorporated before such requirement became a law, it may construct its road without obtaining the consent of the city authorities. ..."

Subsequent reports on construction progress include:

"At a meeting of directors of the New York, Westchester & Boston, Andrew Freedman, a director of the Interborough, was elected to the board. ... For the purpose of building the road the engineering corps has been practically completed as follows: William A. Pratt, formerly chief engineer of the Staten Island Rapid Transit Railroad, will be the chief engineer. The consulting engineers will be: William Barclay Parsons, formerly engineer of the Rapid Transit Commission, and John Bogart, formerly state engineer" (Wall Street Journal, 24 Feb. 1905, pg. 8).

"T. D. Rhodes has just resigned as receiver of the Detroit Southern Railway Company and has accepted the presidency of the City and County Contract Company; he will assume his new duties Saturday. The last named company has the contract for the building of the New York, Westchester & Boston Railway. Construction work on this line was started last week." (Wall Street Journal, 10 June 1905, pg. 5)

"Work on the New York, Westchester & Boston Road is progressing rapidly within the limits of the Bronx and in Mount Vernon." (New York Times, 25 March 1906, pg. RE8)

"The New York, Westchester & Boston, now being rapidly constructed, will be used as transportation from Mount Vernon and New Rochelle to the subway and elevated is concerned, practically exclusively for passenger travel." (Wall Street Journal, 14 Dec. 1909, pg. 6)

"New York, Westchester & Boston Railway to the effect that its new four-track electric rapid transit line through the eastern section will be put in operation before Feb. 1, 1912." (New York Times, 22 Oct. 1911, pg. xx1)

It should be pointed out, however, that the New York, Westchester & Boston Railway as an independent entity ceased to exist long before the system was operational. In 1907 they were taken over by the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad. As reported in the Railroad Gazette, 3 Jan. 1908, pg. 29, "In October announced that New Haven had bought control of the New York, Westchester & Boston and the New York & Portchester, two companies which have franchises to build a high-speed electric road from the northern part of New York City through Mt. Vernon to New Rochelle, on which considerable construction work has been done."

Finally in 1912, "The White Plains Branch of the New York, Westchester & Boston Railway will be opened to the public to-morrow, when a full schedule of 225 trains daily will be put in operation on the system. L. S. Miller, President of the new company, speaking of the road and the prospective railway facilities of the Borough of the Bronx..." (New York Times, 30 June 1912, pg. xx5)

In 1917, along with general offices at 481 Morris Park Avenue, the following station stops in the Bronx were listed in the New York telephone directory

Baychester Av
Dyre Av
Gun Hill Rd
Hunts Pt
Morris Pk
Pelham Parkway
Port Morris

For various reasons, however, the line which served 18,000 commuters daily was not profitable. In 1935 bankruptcy resulted. "Application of the New York, Westchester & Boston Railroad for reorganization under the Bankruptcy Law, Section 77, made before Judge Carrol C. Hincks in the Federal court here, revealed a corporate deficit of $45,000,000 which has been accumulating for twenty-three years. The company operates between New York City and White Plains and Port Chester. The balance sheet, filed with the petition for a hearing similar to those filed by the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad and the Connecticut Company recently, disclosed that the railroad, which is a subsidiary of the New Haven system, has operated under a consistent heavy annual loss. The New Haven and the holders of $19,200,000 of 4 1/2 per cent bonds of the subsidiary are virtually the only creditors. The New Haven Railroad has met the deficit annually because of its endorsement of the bonds. Its petition asserted that it is not in a position to continue payment of the interest, which now amounts to $864,000 annually. ..." (New York Times, 1 Dec. 1935, pg. 109)

Closing down the railroad was a slow and painful process over the next two years. Then "White Plains, N.Y. - When the bankrupt New York, Westchester & Boston railway shuts down tomorrow night other transit companies will provide increased service to accommodate the 18,000 'abandoned' commuters, public officials were informed here today by representatives of the companies. The New York Central and the New York, New Haven & Hartford will run longer trains and provide more ticket sellers, while bus companies will supply additional facilities to stations of these railroads, it was said. Edwin L. Garvin, a receiver of the New York, Westchester & Boston, said 300 employes will be dismissed when the 246 daily trains are stopped. He said the last train from the Harlem River Terminal will leave at midnight tomorrow, the last from White Plains at 11:41 P. M. and the last from New Rochelle at 11:55 P. M." (New York Times, 31 Dec. 1937, pg. 17)

Two articles describe the subsequent takeover of part of the New York, Westchester & Boston tracks in the Bronx to incorporate them into the city's subway system, resulting in an extension of the number 5 train north of East 180th Street.

"Contracts for the purchase by the city of the section of the abandoned New York, Westchester & Boston Railroad lying within New York City are expected to be signed at City Hall today, thus bringing additional rapid transportation facilities to a part of the Bronx now inadequately served. The acquisition of the railroad tracks is part of the city's plan to unify all rapid transit facilities under municipal ownership and operation. ... The city is acquiring only the tracks and right-of-way of such part of the W. & B. as lies within the city's limits. This is a stretch of 3.68 miles of double track extending northward from East 180th Street to Dyre Avenue at the Westchester County line. The entire line of the W. & B. is 20.96 miles long and extends to Port Chester. ... The city is expected to use part of the $3,754,000 set aside in the capital outlay budget for the proposed Independent subway's Burke Avenue extension to pay for the W. & B. line. This is expected to result in the abandonment of the Burke Avenue project, since the W. & B. line would cover much of the territory that the Burke Avenue extension was to tap." (New York Times, 9 Jan. 1940, pg. 21)

"Operation of the rehabilitated four-and-one-quarter-mile section of the old New York, Westchester & Boston Railway in the East Bronx will begin in June, it was learned yesterday. The line, latest addition to the New York City Transit System, was acquired by the city on May 1, 1940, and for several months contractors engaged by the Board of Transportation have been repairing the stations and installing new third rails and signals. The Boston-Westchester was shut down on Jan. 1, 1938, after the company went into bankruptcy. When the rehabilitated road, which will be known as the 174th Street-Dyre Avenue line of the city's transit system, has been opened it will provide service for an estimated 1,000,000 passengers a year in a section of the city that suffers greatly for lack of rapid transit facilities. It will have six stations, including those at East 180th Street, Morris Park, Pelham Parkway, Gun Hill Road, Baychester Avenue and Dyre Avenue, which is just within the city line. ... The first charter for the New York, Westchester & Boston Railway was issued in 1872 to promoters interested in building a new railroad between New York and Boston, with particular attention to serving the communities along Long Island Sound. The scheme was not realized. The railroad was never operated beyond Port Chester, N. Y." (New York Herald Tribune, 23 Mar. 1941, pg. A1)

As of 2017 surviving stations from the New York, Westchester & Boston Railway include

ruined relic at Westchester Avenue as it crosses the Bronx River (1908, architect Cass Gilbert),
main office at 180th St. (481 Morris Park Avenue) (1912, Fellheimer & Long, architects, Allen H. Stem, associated architect),
Morris Park station at the foot of the Esplanade near Paulding Avenue, (1912, Fellheimer & Long, architects, Allen H. Stem, associated architect),
Pelham Parkway station on the Esplanade near Pelham Parkway.

The Wikipedia article on the New York, Westchester & Boston Railway constitutes a complete summary of the history. Among other features are links to articles about each of the individual stations along the Bronx Dyre Avenue line.

Two prominent figures in the history of the New York, Westchester & Boston Railway were William Lanman Bull (1844-1914) and Leverett Saltonstall Miller (1863-1931).

William L. Bull became president of the company in 1904. He died 2 January 1914 when the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 3 Jan. 1914, pg. 2, reported, "William Lanman Bull, former president of the New York Stock Exchange and one of the most prominent of the older bankers of the city, died last night at his residence, 111 East Fortieth street, of heart disease, after an illness of two weeks. He had been in ill health for six years. On that account he retired from active business in January, 1908. ..." A longer obituary in the New York Tribune, 3 Jan. 1914, pg. 5, read, "William Lanman Bull, sixty-nine years old, a former president of the New York Stock Exchange, died yesterday at his home, No. 903 Fifth avenue. Mr. Bull was one of the leading figures in the financial world a generation ago. He was born in New York on August 23, 1844, and was educated at the College of the City of New York. He entered the banking business soon after he was graduated. He was a member of the firm of Edward Sweet & Co., brokers at No. 24 Pine street. Mr. Bull was a trustee in the Metropolitan Trust Company, and was connected with numerous financial and industrial concerns. From 1888 to 1890 he was president of the New York Stock Exchange. As an art critic and collector Mr. Bull was well known. He also was active in club life. Among the organizations to which he belonged were the Republican, the Century, the Alpha Delta Phi, the Church, the Ardsley, the University, the Grolier, the Metropolitan, the Riding and the Mayflower Descendants. He leaves a wife, who was Sara N. Worthington, and a son." Bull's interment was in the family vault in Greenwood Cemetery.

Leverett S. Miller was president from 1909 until July 1930. In May 1909 the journal, Electrical Review and Western Electrician, 22 May 1909, pg. 955, reported, "Leverett S. Miller, general manager of the Central New England Railway Company, has resigned to accept the presidency of the Millbrook Company. The Millbrook Company is a holding company for the Mount Vernon & Eastern Railroad Company, the New York, Westchester & Boston Railroad Company, the New York & Portchester Railroad Company, and the County Contracting Company. He will have headquarters in New York City." On his death the New York Times, 22 March 1931, pg. 31, reported, "Leverett Saltonstall Miller of 2 East Sixty-second Street, who retired last July as president of the New York, Westchester & Boston Railway, died at the age of 67 yesterday in St. Luke's Hospital, of which his father, the late George MacCulloch Miller, had been president. ..." A longer obituary appeared in the New York Herald Tribune, 22 March 1931, pg. 22, reading, "Leverett Saltonstall Miller, for forty-five years a builder and manager of railroads in the United States and until recently president of the New York, Westchester & Boston Railway, died yesterday in St. Luke's Hospital. He was sixty-five years old. Mr. Miller, who supervised the construction of the New York, Westchester & Boston Railway, became president of the line in 1909. He retired from this post last July. He was also president of affiliated transportation companies, among them the New York & Stamford Railway Company, the Westchester Street Railway Company, the County Transportation Company, the Soundview Transportation Company and the Port Chester-Glenville Bus Company. He was succeeded as head of the Westchester road by J. J. Pelley, president of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad, which controls the suburban line. Mr. Miller was an early advocate of bus transportation as a supplement to railroad service. He was born in New York City, the son of George Macculoch Miller, lawyer, and Elizabeth Hoffman Miller. His father for a number of years was president of St. Luke's Hospital and was active in choosing a site for and planning the construction of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Mr. Miller, after being privately tutored, entered Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and, upon his graduation in 1885, was appointed maintenance engineer for the Denver, Utah & Pacific Railroad. Later he was engineer of the Colorado Railway Company, chief engineer of the Eastern Alabama Railway, assistant resident engineer of the Thames River Bridge, assistant superintendent of the New York, Providence & Boston Railroad, chief engineer and later assistant general manager of the St. Paul & Duluth Railroad, one of the receivers of the Washington Central Railroad and general manager of the Seattle & International Railroad. Also he had served as assistant to the president of the Erie Railroad, general manager of the Tennessee Central Railway, general manager of the Tennessee Construction Company and general manager of the Central New England Railway. His wife, the former Susan Goldthwaite Rose, of Hartford, survives. He was a member of the Knickerbocker, University and Brook clubs. He lived at 2 East Sixty-second Street. Funeral services will be held at St. Thomas's Protestant Episcopal Church, at Fifth Avenue and Fifty-third Street, at 10 o'clock tomorrow morning."

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