Uncovering Railroad History Near You

Posted by John Brady on

In many ways, railroads helped to shape America: opening up new avenues for trade; connecting coasts; making travel more affordable; and more! Although railroads are less often used today as a means of transportation, they have had a big influence on the development of many communities, cities, and regions. 

Having just moved to Syracuse, New York, I decided to look into how railroads helped shape the area. Syracuse was once known as "the city with the trains in the streets," with multiple rail lines running through the center of the city. This 1924 map shows the major lines that made up Syracuse's rail system.


In fact, some of the main streets in downtown Syracuse--particularly Washington Avenue-- used to be rail lines, with about 60 trains a day running through the area. 

(Image:  "Hudson 5363 rolls down Washington Street in downtown Syracuse with an eastbound train."-- Trains.com)

Eventually, a new train station (serving the New York Central) was built along Erie Boulevard, farther from the heart of the city. In 1936, the last train-- the Empire State Express-- left the downtown station, with observers singing "Auld Lang Syne" to commemorate the end of an era.

The Erie Boulevard station still stands, and now contains offices for Spectrum, an internet service provider.

Have you ever looked up the railroad history in your area? What did you find? Comment below!




"End of an Era: The Last Train Leaves Downtown Syracuse", Syracuse.com

Syracuse Interurbans Map (http://www.vizettes.com/kt/ne-interurbans/ny/5-syracuse.htm)

Hudson 5363 on Washington Street, (https://www.trains.com/ctr/railroad-stories/railroader/the-century-at-syracuse/)

Spectrum store on Erie Boulevard-- photo from Syracuse.com


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