West Side Yard

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The West Side Yard (officially the John D. Caemmerer West Side Yard) is a rail yard owned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority on the west side of Manhattan in New York City. Used to store commuter rail trains operated by the Long Island Rail Road, the 26.17-acre (10.59 ha) yard sits between West 30th Street, West 33rd Street, Tenth Avenue and Twelfth Avenue.[1][2]

The yard includes storage tracks, a six-track indoor shop for light maintenance, a 12-car long platform for car cleaning, and lockers and a break room for employees.

Before the yard opened in 1987, trains arriving at Penn Station during the morning rush hour had to deadhead back to Long Island for midday storage.[3][4] The West Side Yard also increased the LIRR's peak period capacity at Penn Station.[5]

The Yard sits at the north end of the High Line, a former elevated rail line used for freight service that has been converted into a park, and south of the truck marshalling yard used by the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. It also sits above the 34th Street subway station.


The site was originally used as a depot for the Hudson River Railroad for a line running down Eleventh Avenue, as trains were not permitted to operate south of West 32nd Street because of a fear of explosions. New York Central and later on Penn Central later expanded the rail yards and used them as a freight terminal up until the 1970s.[4]

The West Side Yard is named after John D. Caemmerer, a New York State Senator from East Williston who helped obtain $195.7 million for its construction.

During construction, an underground tunnel was built that allows Amtrak trains from Penn Station to travel to Upstate New York via the West Side Line.[4] Amtrak trains began using this tunnel on April 7, 1991; before this, Empire Service trains originated from Grand Central Terminal.[6]

The West Side Yard was also designed to accommodate an overbuild in its air rights, and space was left between the tracks for columns to support a platform above the tracks.[4] Madison Square Garden was considering a move to the site in the mid-1980s and the rail yards were also considered as a possible stadium site for the New York Yankees.[7][8] The rail yards were later proposed as the site of a sports complex containing a West Side Stadium for the New York Jets and the New York City bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics.[9][10]

The eastern portion of the West Side Yard (east of Eleventh Avenue) was rezoned for residential use in January 2005 as part of the Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project. Following the defeat of the proposal to construct the West Side Stadium, the western portion of the rail yard was rezoned to accommodate residential and commercial development in December 2009.[11][12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "West Side Rail Yard (Request for Proposals for Development)". Metropolitan Transportation Authority. 2007-07-13. Retrieved 2010-03-06. 
  2. ^ "2004 Annual Report" (PDF). Metropolitan Transportation Authority. p. 66. Retrieved 2010-03-06. 
  3. ^ Doherty, Matthew (November 7, 2004). "Far West Side Story". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-03-06. 
  4. ^ a b c d Voboril, Mary (March 26, 2005). "The Air Above Rail Yards Still Free". Newsday (New York). 
  5. ^ Blumenthal, Ralph (February 21, 1984). "Problems Halt Laying of Pipe at L.I.R.R. Project". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-03-05. 
  6. ^ "Travel Advisory; Grand Central Trains Rerouted To Penn Station". The New York Times. April 7, 1991. Retrieved 2010-03-06. 
  7. ^ "Owners of Garden Said to Weight Building New Arena Further West". The New York Times. December 28, 1985. Retrieved 2010-03-06. 
  8. ^ Barry, Dan (April 20, 1998). "Mayor Making Case for Yanks on West Side". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-03-06. 
  9. ^ Barry, Dan (January 15, 1999). "Giuliani Offers Plan to Put Up Sports Complex". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-03-06. 
  10. ^ Bagli, Charles V. (November 27, 2011). "From Ashes of Olympic Bid, a Future Rises for the Far West Side". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-11-28. 
  11. ^ Purnick, Joyce (January 20, 2005). "What Rises in the West? Uncertainty". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-03-06. 
  12. ^ Bagli, Charles V. (December 21, 2009). "Rezoning Will Allow Railyard Project to Advance". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-03-06. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°45′16″N 74°00′11″W / 40.75444°N 74.00306°W / 40.75444; -74.00306