After visiting the accountant on the Upper East Side last night, I had the express pleasure of taking Metro North from 125th Street in Harlem, instead of my usual Grand Central launching pad.
The Harlem MTA station looks like it was at once grand, though cheap paneling like your neighbor’s old basement probably covers up much of the grandeur. It’s a big rectangle, about the size of a great loft apartment, smack in the middle of the ghetto. It’s a block west of the 4-5-6 subway stop, prompting one to wonder why they’re not all one and the same; perhaps that’s a question for Engine Bob.
While the homeless are out in full force outside the station–even on a rainy Thursday at 9 p.m.–it’s well-policed inside, with an officer sitting in an office whose door is marked with a huge NYPD logo for all to see, and others on foot.
Framed photos dot the walls and tell the story of the station’s overhaul in the past decade, so presumably this is as good as it gets at 125th. Further hampering the design, one of those giant three-headed blue garbage depots (slots for plastics/paper/regular garbage) sits in the middle of the room.
The view from the platform is kind of neat, with the baby blue erector set approach to the Triboro on one end, the famous Apollo Theater on another end, and bustling 125th below.
The building next to the platform held some sort of art installment: lights shining through green and pink fabric, with silhouettes of animals (eagles, moose, rhinos) affixed to the walls. Weird, especially after a long day.
Once on board, I squeezed in next to an old Hassidic key who did word searches with themes like “Parts of a Typewriter” (Home Row…Carriage…etc.). Once he completed a puzzle, he tore it out, folded it and place d it in his knapsack, like he was going to show his handiwork to his wife.
Two construction workers volubly discussed their income; one shouted his weekly takehome ($630!…no, $625!) for all the train to hear, while the other fiddled with a calculator.
Long day. I sprung for a cab at Hawthorne Station.