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Great Railroad Stations - DL&W Newark, NJ

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Great Railroad Stations 

by John C. Dahl

Newark, NJ; DL&W

The Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western railroadís classic turn of the century station on North Broad Street, Newark, NJ has certainly seen the fortunes of railroading and the city come full circle. Opened in 1903, the station was constructed as a part of the massive electrification and grade separation project the railroad undertook to improve and modernize its northern New Jersey operations.

The DL&W enjoyed a prestigious position among railroads at the turn of the 20th century. Anthracite coal was king. DL&W operated from New York tidewater to Buffalo, NY, by way of Scranton, PA. In New Jersey, the railroad operated through what were the prime industrial, and residential real estate markets nearest to New York City. Newark was a growing metropolis. The developing towns and suburbs immediately west were among the wealthiest of their day. With the arrival of William Haynes Truesdale to the presidency of the Lackawanna, the new Century began. Over the next two decades, he would oversee a major rebuilding of the railroad, positioning it as "mile for mile the most highly developed railroad in America". His administration would undertake a complete overhaul of the railroad from the west shore of the Hudson River to the shore of Lake Erie in Buffalo.

In Newark, work to elevate the right of way would begin in 1900. A third track would be laid starting at the west end of the Passaic River bridge, and continuing into the western suburbs. Grade reductions were accomplished at the same time, by lowering the tracks at Roseville Avenue, and raising them at Broad Street. Tracks through the densely settled towns of the "Oranges" along the old Morris & Essex line of the DL&W were raised or lowered depending of topography, eliminating grade crossings, and requiring the construction of new stations.  Similarly on the Montclair Line new stations were built at Ampere, Watsessing Avenue, Bloomfield Avenue, and Montclair, end of the branch line. Montclair was at the turn of the century a prestigious address, and the station the railroad designed for it was commissioned by itís own architect, William Botsford. (Unfortunately, Mr. Botsford never saw the Montclair station completed, as he went down on the ill fated Titanic in 1912.)

The Newark station very much resembles the Binghamton, NY DL&W station, which predates it by only a year or two. The clock tower and certain other details vary from Binghamton, but the likeness is the same. (Binghamton includes a tower but no clock.) The neat brown brick and crisp details that the railroad applied to all of their new stations kept a family appearance to DL&Wís structures. The railroad was pioneering in its use of concrete as a structural and architectural element.

After World War II, the cities and suburbs of northern New Jersey grew outwards, and the older, inner city communities began to decline. Railroad service, although still busy, began to slowly fade. The Lackawanna merged with one time rival Erie in 1960. Newark itself declined rapidly in the 1960ís. Service using the old electric cars somehow continued to soldier on. Finally, state governments recognized the need to save and improve the valuable public transit resource they had in their railroads. New Jersey Transit undertook to expand and improve the DL&W lines. NJT undertook a vast rebuilding of the railroad and itís facilities, and happily for station fans, has lovingly restored many of the landmark depots on it various routes, not just DL&W. Today the Broad Street station is a focal point of a revitalized commuter rail system for Newark. Mr. Truesdale would be pleased with his railroad.

Newark, New Jersey, North Broad Street. Built for the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western in 1903, the railroad is a today part of New Jersey Transit. Its June 6, 1998 and rail patrons can once again rely on the station clock for accurate time. Jon Rothenmeyer photo.

View from the upper level platform of the out bound station. June 6, 1998. Jon Rothenmeyer photo.

 

 

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This page was last updated Thursday, December 06, 2001

©2001  Jim Dent 
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