From: tommy meehan tmeehan0421 AT gmail DOT com
Date: Tue, 10 Nov 2015 06:53:32 -0500
Subject: Harlem Transfer circa 1914
"Harlem_Transfer_Bromley_1928.jpg" - image/jpeg, 409x438 (24bit)
I was curious because, as Bob Bahrs pointed out, there is an unfinished
look to Harlem Transfer in the photos Pat McKnight recently posted from
January 1914. Was Lackawanna extending the bulkhead or expanding the car
float basin? According to some information I have found it seems they
probably were not. There may be another explanation.
I'm forwarding two images of Bromley maps showing Harlem Transfer in 1911
and in 1928. The bulkhead and car float basin seem to have the same
dimensions in both. You may note that Harlem Transfer is labeled
"Lackawanna & Erie RR Co." That is undoubtedly because, when the yard
first opened in 1898, it was primarily an Erie facility though apparently
(according to an article in RAILROAD GAZETTE) the Harlem Transfer Company
was independently owned. DL&W also used the terminal as did Baltimore &
Ohio and Jersey Central. In 1905 Lackawanna bought the Harlem Transfer Co.,
maintaining it as a subsidiary.
But if Bromley failed to note the changing ownership how accurate are the
maps? First the Bromley maps are highly detailed fire insurance maps with
an excellent record for accuracy. Second, I also found a Fairchild Aerial
Map image of Harlem Transfer in the 1920s and, while it wasn't a very clear
image (I'm not going to bother to forward it), the yard seemed to have the
same dimensions as in the two Bromley maps.
As for what was going on along that stretch of the Harlem River in 1914,
you'll note on the 1928 map, the IRT Lexington Avenue subway line is shown
running under the west side of Harlem Transfer. The IRT tunneled under the
Harlem River at this point in 1913-14. The construction technique was to
dig a riverbed trench, sink tunnel sections, assemble them underwater and
then pump them out. There was a lot of marine work equipment used and there
may have been some disruption to the Harlem Transfer property. That might
explain the property's appearance in the photos.