Ampere (NJT station)
A view of the Ampere station before its closing, by the Historic American Engineering Record
|Location||Ampere Plaza and Whitney Place, East Orange, New Jersey|
|Owned by||New Jersey Transit|
|Platforms||2 side platforms|
|Closed||April 7, 1991|
|Electrified||September 3, 1930|
The 1907 train station depot, slowly falling apart.
|Location||Ampere Plaza and Whitney Place, East Orange, New Jersey|
|Area||1.6 acres (0.65 ha)|
|Architect||Frank J. Nies|
|MPS||Operating Passenger Railroad Stations TR|
|NRHP Reference #||84002628|
|Added to NRHP||June 22, 1984|
|Designated NJRHP||March 17, 1984|
|Removed from NRHP||October 30, 1990|
Ampere Station, formerly known as The Crescent, is a closed station on New Jersey Transit's Montclair Branch in the city of East Orange, Essex County, New Jersey, United States. The station depot was built originally in 1890 to service to new Crocker Wheeler plant in the district. The station was named in honor of André-Marie Ampère, a pioneer in electrodynamics and reconstructed as a new Renaissance Revival station in 1907 and 1908. The station was the second station on the branch west of Newark Broad Street Station until 1984, when Roseville Avenue station was closed. That year, the station, along with 52 others, was added to the National Register of Historic Places from June 22. That designation remains to the present day. After continuous disrepair and deterioration, New Jersey Transit slowly demolished the old station, including the westbound shelter built in 1922 in 1986 and the station depot itself in 1995. The station was closed on April 7, 1991 by New Jersey Transit until the station could see better ridership. The station never reopened along with Grove Street station on the Morris & Essex Lines, also in East Orange.
Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad (1868 – 1960)
The Montclair Branch was chartered in 1852 as the Newark and Bloomfield Railroad, running through Bloomfield and nearby West Bloomfield (present-day Montclair). However, tracks were not constructed along the owned right-of-way until 1856; in June that year trains began running between Newark, Bloomfield and West Bloomfield. The railroad had a large deficit to start; the ticket agent at West Bloomfield was also the brakeman for the one-car train. On April 1, 1868, the Morris & Essex Railroad bought out the alignment of the Newark and Bloomfield Railroad. The Morris & Essex began running services on the line, which was renamed the Montclair Branch when West Bloomfield was renamed Montclair shortly after. The Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad soon gained trackage rights, and by the turn of the 20th century, the railroad had begun constructing track depressions and raises to eliminate grade-level crossings on city streets.
Before 1890, conductors and engineers on the Lackawanna were ordered to stop at the station only on request from the railroad. The first station at Ampere was constructed in 1890 on a request made by Crocker Wheeler, a local electrical machine industry in East Orange. The station itself was built as a one-story stone structure with a pyramid-shaped roof and eaves overhanging the rails. There was also sidings set to go into the Crocker Wheeler plant. In honor of André-Marie Ampère, the French founder of electrodynamics, the station was named Ampere. The station quickly received a lot of residential and commercial influx, with people developing the area at a high rate. In 1907 and 1908, the Lackawanna built a new structure at Ampere between Springdale and Fourth Avenues. This new station, costing the Lackawanna $44,000 (1907 USD) was a new brick Renaissance Revival structure containing a green terra cotta roof, large arched doorway and concrete pedestrian tunnel under the tracks. The new station was opened with a large ceremony, also joined by the French ambassador to the United States, Jules Jusserand.
By 1912, trains heading to or from the Lackawanna's grand Hoboken Terminal (built in 1907) made more than sixty stops daily at the Ampere station. East Orange, continuing to develop after its 1899 inception, began building new luxury apartment buildings and large branches of New York City's department stores, becoming a major commerce stop. After the town originally did not want the Lackawanna to raise the tracks in their town, they sued the Lackawanna to prevent construction. In 1921, the city was forced by a judge to comply to the Lackawanna's project. Tracks through Ampere were raised twelve feet higher and a second story was added to the station depot. A platform canopy was added to the westbound side of the station along with a brick shelter. The station saw electric train service for the first time in 1930 when the Lackawanna in conjunction with Thomas Edison with overhead catenary wires. It is at this time, the 1940s and 1950s, that the station was in its prime, with the Montclair Branch thought to be the most used commuter rail line in the United States.
During the times after World War II, East Orange saw a loss in industry and a lowering tax base. The Crocker Wheeler plant, was bought by the Carrier Corporation to manufacture refrigerators and air conditioners.
Erie Lackawanna Railroad and Conrail (1960 – 1980)
In 1960, the Erie Railroad and the Lackawanna, both facing financial problems, announced a merger of the railroads on October 17 of that year, forming the Erie-Lackawanna Railroad. That was absorbed in April 1976, when the Erie-Lackawanna merged as part of the new federal Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail).
New Jersey DOT and New Jersey Transit (1980 – 1991)
Commuter rail operations under Conrail was short-lived, turned over to the New Jersey Department of Transportation for service in 1980. It is at this point, the DOT (and the newly formed New Jersey Transit) shut down the inside waiting room of the deteriorating station depot. On June 22, 1984, as part of a thematic nomination, Ampere station, along with Bloomfield and Glen Ridge and fifty other stations, was added to the National Register of Historic Places. However, the station's interior continued to fall into disrepair. The westbound shelter added in 1921 was demolished in 1986, just after 65 years of use. The next year, New Jersey Transit would request the Commissioner for Natural and Historic Resources to demolished the station depot. However, the commissioner's department asked New Jersey Transit to stabilize the old depot or sell it to East Orange for a fee. Included would advertise a use for the station depot or lease to a private developer.
This situation did not matter, as by 1990, the station was down to just 51 people boarding twenty-eight trains at Ampere daily. Service was suspended at Ampere and the nearby Grove Street station on April 7, 1991, until ridership could be found. The station depot however, remained standing. The next year, the station depot suffered a large fire, and three years later, after being unable to find a new use for the structure, the station at Ampere was demolished.
Proposed reconstruction of Ampere
In 2005, the city of East Orange began looking into the idea of rebuilding and reopening a new station at Ampere. The station site remains, with its asphalt platforms and eastbound driveway left in place. The station's stairs were all removed, and the landing to one entrance has catenary wires running on it. A study conducted in 2005 envisioned the station would attract commuters who would not go to Brick Church station, the main one in East Orange. The study also suggested going after funding for the Department of Transportation's transit village program. Due to the station being on the National Register of Historic Places still, with no petition for removal, some construction plans will need to be approved by the United States Secretary of the Interior. The new station structure would need to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 form, with high-level platforms (51 inches (1.3 m) off the ground and 630 feet (190 m) long), new canopies, ramps and stairs. The new station will also have an average of thirty second dwell time at the station, resulting in a minute and twenty seconds added to the commute time. Due to the level of usage, no more than a three-sided brick shelter, similar to those at Montclair Heights or Lake Hopatcong stations would be needed.
- Morris & Essex Lines Timetable (April 7, 1991 ed.). Newark, New Jersey: New Jersey Transit Rail Operations. 1991.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13.
- "New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places - Essex County" (PDF). NJ DEP - Historic Preservation Office. January 10, 2010. p. 3. Retrieved April 13, 2010.
- Knox, Reverend Charles E. (1884). History of Essex County. Publisher unknown.
- Travelers' official Guide of the Railways (1870 ed.). National Railway Publication Company. June 1, 1870.
- "Suburban Railroad Changes" (PDF). The New York Times (New York, New York: Time Warner). April 28, 1901. p. 2. Retrieved February 23, 2010.
- "Feasibility Study for the Restoration of NJ TRANSIT Service for the Former Ampere Train Station" (PDF). Systra Consulting. June 2005. Retrieved November 28, 2010.
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