New York & Harlem Railroad Company

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The New York and Harlem Railroad originated in the 1840's as an early commuter railroad linking lower Manhattan (New York City) with the affluent new "suburb" of Harlem in northern Manhattan. It was extended 127 miles north to a railroad junction in Columbia County at Chatham, NY by 1851 because business and financial interests in New York City were worried that the new Western Railroad of Massachusetts, linking Albany and Boston, would give Boston a competitive advantage over New York City for the expanding "western trade."

Albany, NY was the terminus for both the Erie Canal and the newly constructed Buffalo to Albany New York Central Railroad. The inland route up what later became known as the "Harlem Valley" was chosen for the new railroad from New York City to Albany because it was easier and less expensive to construct than a route following the Hudson River. However, business interests from the important cities on the Hudson River, Poughkeepsie for example, soon raised the capital to construct the Hudson River Railroad which was completed to Albany at almost the same time as the New York and Harlem Railroad, and the Hudson River Railroad became the primary route. Both railroad lines were acquired by Commodore Vanderbilt in the 1870's and became part of the rail baron's empire stretching from New York City to Chicago and St. Louis. It should be noted that the series of floodplains, valleys and swamps, and the lowlands from Brewster to Hillsdale became known as the "Harlem Valley" because of the New York and Harlem Railroad. Although it was a secondary line in the vast Vanderbilt New York Central Railroad empire, the Harlem Division was important to the transportation needs and commercial activity of eastern New York State and western New England for over 100 years.

We are currently offering the following pieces from the New York & Harlem Railroad Company:





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