Chappaqua Railroad Depot and Plaza
Backstory and Context
The Chappaqua Railroad Depot and Plaza was constructed on 2.7 acers of land that was donated to the town of New Castle by Gabrielle Greeley Clendenin, the daughter of Horace Greeley.The land that was donated by Gabrielle was a part of the Greeley farm that she inherited when her father died in November of 1872. Prior to the construction of the train depot, the older station that existed on the same train line a couple hundred feet north was unable to accommodate the freight and passenger traffic that had recently boomed due to farmers in the area accessing the larger markets of New York City. Much like with other regions of Westchester, the suburbanization of Chappaqua and New Castle was made possible due to the railroad.
The train line allowed important business and social links to the city. For this reason, Horace Greeley moved outside of New York in order to live in the tranquility of the then rural New Castle. Greeley purchased a farm south of the old station until his death and his daughter Gabrielle then took over.
When Gabrielle offered to donate the land that would be used to construct the new depot, plaza, and an access road, there were objections raised by the owners of three building located by the old station because they believed that moving the station would hurt their businesses. The donation for the site of the new station was accepted with the stipulation that the part of the land adjacent to the depot would be a park that would be maintained in perpetuity by the town. The plaza of the train station today is still maintained as a park that hosts community events such as farmers markets, town fairs, and a town baseball/softball field complex that is used for recreational sports.
In 1902, the new station was built at a cost of $16,000 and the Plaza was cleaned and improved for the cost of $5,000 whicht was donated by the Greeley family.,The Chappaqua Railroad Depot is constructed with a grey fieldstone and the roof was built using clay tiles which has chimneys protruding up on either side. On the track side of the station, a roofed arcade extends out along the tracks to protect passangers against the elements while waiting for the train—this feature is no longer needed as the elevated modern platforms are in use. Overlooking the plaza is the porte-cochère in which passengers would be dropped off or picked up upon arrival.
In the 1970’s, the Penn Central Railroad took over for the New York Central Railroad. The Commuter line eventually gave way to Metro-North which was created under the MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) and is still in charge of the commuter transit that goes through Chappaqua. In the 1980’s additions were made alongside the old transit depot. An elevated bridge with elevators was constructed over the tracks
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