Nyack Commmunity Garden

History of the Property

History of the Property Before the Nyack Community Garden

Train turntable in the garden area in Nyack, 1947

1947 photograph of the tracks and turntable. Collection of Nyack Public Library.

Let us go back to the history of the property before our garden. The land was part of the end-of-the-line complex of the spur of the Northern Railroad of New Jersey, which in 1870 linked Nyack with Piermont and the rest of the line. This line later became part of the extensive Erie Railroad network. An 1876 map indicates that the train tracks terminated at a depot located at the southeast corner of Depew and Franklin Avenue and that further south near an unnamed street on the map (Hudson Avenue) was a freight house. This is our garden’s location today.

Map of the garden area in 1919, with railway

1919 map showing future site of Garden with tracks, freight station, turntable, roundhouse and other end-of-the-line railroad facilities.

There were numerous reconfigurations of the railroad facilities on the site to serve evolving rail functions spanning 95 years. In the late 1880’s, after a new passenger station opened about 2 blocks south at a site which is now Franklin Street Park in South Nyack, the garden’s site continued to have the freight station and other end-of-the line facilities. By 1891 it had a turntable for turning locomotives. In 1904-05 a new round house (actually an arched segment rather than a full circle) was constructed. It was capable of holding seven engines. This structure is shown on an August 1919 Sanborn Insurance Map with seven sets of tracks leading into it from the turntable. The opening of the New York State Thruway and the Tappan Zee Bridge in 1955 lead to the demise of rail service to Nyack. The last train ran in December 1965.

A railroad train on a turntable

Engine on the turntable. Photograph by Vincent Lee, probably from early 1960’s.

For those of us who want to know more about this railroad history, the time is now. Soon a new historical sign will be added at the property as part of a project to put up 11 signs along the former railroad bed (rail-trail) with information about the railroad between the Nyack Community Garden site and the Piermont Railroad depot building. Andrew Goodwillie will give an “armchair walking tour” about the research that went into creating the historical information signage along the rail-trail. Presented on Thursday, October 25th at 7pm at the Nyack Library and again on Friday, October 26th at 2pm at the Valley Cottage Library. Registration required, http://nyacklibrary.evanced.info/signup/Calendar and http://www.vclib.org/, events calendar. The Historical Society of the Nyacks will host a related exhibit “Tales from the Trail” about the impact of this railroad at its museum in DePew House, lower level Piermont Avenue, on view on Saturdays from 1-4 pm between from October 12 to November 24, 2018.

Robin Brown

This article is taken from the Newsletter October-November 2018