Croton’s First Train Station

Croton's first train station, circa 1849-1850.

Croton’s first train station, circa 1849.

Croton filmmaker, journalist and history-buff Ken Sargeant has shared with us a disk of images he acquired many years ago when he was doing some work with the late Roberta Arminio at the the Ossining Historical Society. Ms. Arminio was a long-time director of the OHS, as well as the Ossining town and village historian.

We’ve selected a few rare 19th century images of Croton from Ken’s cache and are pleased to present the first in the series, courtesy of the Ossining Historical Society.

Croton’s First Train Station, circa 1849

This is a very early photograph—possibly the earliest—of the first train station in what was then called Croton Landing. The station was built in 1849 and was located on the river side of the tracks, across from the intersection of today’s North Riverside Avenue and Grand Street (then called River Street and Lower Landing Road, respectively).

There is a different photograph of this station in the Croton Historical Society’s Images of America book—which you can order here or purchase at the CHS office in the Municipal Building—but it was taken from the opposite side of the building and appears to be a later image.

What’s significant about this photograph is that it shows the shore of the Hudson River before it was greatly extended with landfill and also nicely juxtaposes the old and new modes of transportation.

Below is a detail of the area from a map of the property of Phillip G. Van Wyck.1 The map helps approximate the age of the photo because it shows landfill and buildings on the river side of the station which don’t appear in the photograph. The map is dated 1850, making it likely that the photograph dates from 1849, the year the station was constructed.

Detail from an 1850 map of the property of Phillip G. Van Wyck in Croton. The road on the right is today's Grand Street, then called Lower Landing Road.

Detail from an 1850 map of the property of Phillip G. Van Wyck in Croton.
The road on the right is today’s Grand Street, then called Lower Landing Road.

Coming next: A photograph of the ornamental wooden arch and gate that once greeted worshippers and mourners visiting Bethel Cemetery.


  1. For more on the Van Wyck map, see this previous post.

A Sharp and Palpable Difference

Ad from the Ladies’ Home Journal, December, 1917

Ad from the Ladies’ Home Journal, December, 1917

In a previous post we displayed two ads from 1917 for Goodyear Cord Tires, featuring detailed pen-and-ink drawings of Nikko Inn. These clever bits of Jazz Age cross-promotion appeared in magazines ranging from the Atlantic Monthly and The New Country Life to Travel and Forest & Stream.

Tiny detail from the Ladies’ Home Journal ad.

Tiny detail from the Ladies’ Home Journal ad.

Now we’ve discovered a much more elegant ad from the same campaign, which ran in the December, 1917 issue of Ladies’ Home Journal. The art was created by Myron Perley, an illustrator and art director who is remembered today for his work for the Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company.

Unfortunately the image of the Nikko is hard to discern in the background. We suspect that the art was done in full-color and published here in black-and-white to save money. Maybe another version will turn up and we’ll get to see the Nikko in full-color glory.

Until then we can try to imagine what an exotic and alluring destination the Nikko Inn must have been in those days—and the “sharp and palpable difference” we would have “felt in the riding quality” of our car “shod with Goodyear Cord Tires.”

For more on the Nikko, the Mikado and Harmon’s rich history, see these previous posts.

Goodyear-Nikko-Ad-1917_72dpi

Mikado Inn “Real Photo” Postcard, circa 1920

Mikado Inn, Harmon-on-Hudson, N.Y. [No publisher, but likely the Mikado Inn]. Circa 1920.

Mikado Inn, Harmon-on-Hudson, N.Y. [No publisher, but likely the Mikado Inn]. Circa 1920.
Click the image to enlarge it.

Come take a stroll in the beautiful Japanese gardens of the Mikado Inn, in Harmon-on-Hudson. Enjoy a dinner of exotic oriental dishes (or, if you prefer something more familiar, try the $5.00 Porterhouse Steak for two). After dinner you can listen to that clever young man, Oscar Levant, play “Yes, We Have No Bananas” on the upright piano.

The Mikado Inn was built around 1920 by “Admiral” George T. Moto (a.k.a. “Data Moto” and “Toshiyuki Moto”), a disgruntled employee of Clifford Harmon. Moto had managed the Nikko Inn and after a disagreement bought land across the street and built the Mikado. Both establishments, along with the Tumble Inn on the other side of town, were speakeasys during Prohibition—though in 1921 the Admiral was acquitted in what newspaper accounts at the time called the first case to be tried in Westchester County for alleged violation of the New York State liquor law.1

This postcard is what’s called a “real photo postcard” because the image is an actual photograph made from a negative, not a halftone reproduction. The process was invented in 1903 by Kodak with the introduction of the No. 3A Folding Pocket Kodak. The camera, designed for postcard-size film, allowed the general public to take photographs and have them printed on postcard backs, usually in the same dimensions (3-1/2 x 5-1/2 inches) as standard postcards. The process was perfect for small establishments and this card was likely produced and sold by the Mikado Inn.

This crisp enlargement is possible because the postcard is an actual photographic print.

This crisp enlargement is possible because the postcard is an actual photographic print.

Want to know more about the Mikado? See these previous posts:

  • Oscar Levant Plays the Mikado
    Oscar Levant, the quick-witted pianist, composer, actor, author and quiz-show panelist performed there as a teenager, sharing “sleeping quarters with twenty or thirty Japanese waiters in the cellar.”
  • What’s Cookin’ at the Mikado?
    A tasty bit of Harmon history—a Mikado Inn menu featuring two Spring Lamb Chops for $1.50, Filet Mignon Mikado for $3.00 and a Porterhouse Steak for two for $5.00.
  • The Motorist’s Playground
    An ad for the Mikado and two other Croton-area “road houses” from the June 12, 1921 issue of the New-York Tribune. The “Japanese gardens” highlighted in the ad are shown in the postcard above.

  1. New York Evening Telegram, July 12, 1921.
This simple stamp on the back is typical of real photo postcards.

This simple stamp on the back is typical of real photo postcards.

The Purdy Homestead on Quaker Ridge Road

The house built by Frederick Purdy in 1895.

The house built by Frederick Purdy in 1895.

One of the treats of this Sunday’s 18th Annual Croton Arboretum Garden Tour will be a chance to see the Purdy homestead on Quaker Ridge Road and a group of 100-year-old family photographs, lovingly preserved and made available by local restaurateur Craig Purdy.

Today, the property is a magnificent 23-acre estate—no longer in the family—but it was originally part of the much larger land-holdings of the Purdy family, who settled in Cortlandt in 1735.

The Purdy’s have deep roots in Westchester. Jacob Purdy is perhaps the most famous—he joined the Westchester Militia in 1775 and served until the end of the Revolution. His house in White Plains was used as General George Washington’s headquarters in 1778 (and possibly in 1776, during the Battle of White Plains).

In Cortlandt, Quaker preacher William Purdy bought land on the south side of the Croton River from the Van Cortlandt’s in 1800, though according to family lore the single-story red farmhouse on Cliffdale Farm was built by a Purdy relative as early as 1735.

William Purdy’s lasting contribution was the covered wooden bridge over the Croton River he rebuilt at his own expense in 1830, to a give Friends access to the Quaker meeting house in Croton. That bridge is long gone, but the Quaker Bridge we cross today—one of the oldest bridges in Westchester—is a lasting tribute to his civic virtue.

The home on the Arboretum garden tour was built in 1895 by Frederick Purdy, who purchased the land from Craig Purdy’s Great Grandfather, Charles Miciah Purdy. The family photographs on display (see a selection below) come from the estate of Craig’s mother, Jean Thompson Purdy, who passed away in December 2013 at the age of ninety.

Tickets for the tour are still available at $20 each (or $35 for two, if reserved in advance).
Call 914-487-3830.

Click the photos to enlarge them.

New Croton Dam, circa 1907

Cornell Dam, Croton Lake, N.Y. Click the image to enlarge it.

Cornell Dam, Croton Lake, N.Y. Click the image to enlarge it.

Here’s a nice view of the nearly-completed New Croton Dam (also known as the Cornell Dam) circa 1907. We can roughly date the image from the state of construction and the card itself because it’s an “undivided back” postcard, issued during the period from 1901 to 1907. Until 1907 only the mailing address could be written on the back of the card.

This card was published by William Terhune in “Ossining on Hudson” and printed in Germany.

Here are some other Terhune postcards:

Quaker Bridge, circa 1914

Postcard of Quaker Bridge. Click the image to enlarge it.

Postcard of Quaker Bridge. Click the image to enlarge it.

Postcard of Quaker Bridge, circa 1914, published by Frank L. Simone, who issued postcards of many scenes of the Croton area. This card is postmarked Oscawana, July 28, 1914.

Here are two other Simone cards:

Little Nemo in Sing Sing

Click the image to enlarge it.

Click the image to enlarge it.

Here’s a real treat, courtesy of the Art Wood Collection of Caricature and Cartoon at the Library of Congress.

Click the image to enlarge it.

Click the image to enlarge it.

In 1910 Windsor McKay’s innovative comic strip, Little Nemo in Slumberland, featured a sequence in which Little Nemo and his companions accidentally land in Sing Sing Prison.

After a trip to Mars, Little Nemo, the dwarf Flip and the cannibal Impy fly back to New York in their dirigible spaceship, but they’re intercepted in the air by customs agents and decide to land at West Point instead. They fly up the Hudson River—awed by the Palisades—and set down in the Sing Sing Prison by mistake. As usual, in the last panel Little Nemo awakens in the morning in his own bed.

Click the image to enlarge it.

Click the image to enlarge it.

First published by Winsor McCay in October 1905 in The New York Herald, Little Nemo in Slumberland featured a small boy who traveled in his dreams each night to Slumberland, where he had fabulous adventures. The strip was notable for its delicate drawings, innovative layouts, fantastic architecture, and brilliant use of color. McKay’s work influenced many artists, most notably Maurice Sendak—whose book In the Night Kitchen was an homage to his favorite comic strip.

The images shown here are from the original pen-and-ink drawings by McKay. If you want to see what Little Nemo looked like in color check out the Comic Strip Library.

Click the image to enlarge it.

Click the image to enlarge it.