Feb 17, 2011

Depot at Overlook Park


Old timers have noticed that the contractor's building on Hanover Avenue transformed into a community center for Overlook Park. But only the oldest, or train buffs, realized that the building was the freight depot and office for the Lehigh & New England Railroad. Lehigh & New England was formed in 1895, primarily as a coal carrier. The line ran from Allentown to Maybrook, New York.

In 1904 it was acquired by the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company. The line ceased operation in 1961. Among it's infrastructure were impressive bridges across both the Lehigh and Delaware Rivers, both of which were dismantled. Ironic that a remnant of our industrial era is being utilized by the successor of a public housing project.

14 comments:

sjkratzer said...

Do you have any pics of the station running? What has been housed in this building since the train station? I know of Ross Bicycles...

sjkratzer said...

And why was the traffic light installed there? And why is it still there?

michael molovinsky said...

i recall spinosa construction operated out of there for years. the warehouse section behind the shown office portion was demolished and a new addition built for overlook community center. the front has been retained and restored. sorry, don't know about the stoplight.

Anonymous said...

I really like your site Michael, this is intersting info. I used to follow another local blog site regularly I just can't go there any more. Feel kind of icky when I do. Thanks for being what appears to be a credible source of info.

Patrick McHenry said...

MM -

If I'm thinking of the right place, the stoplight was always there. I believe it remains since there is a new road planned that will eventually connect Union Boulevard to Hanover Avenue at that location. I believe the new road will be called New England Avenue.

Also, wasn't the building you are writing about supposed to become an East Side police station?

Anonymous said...

New England Avenue?

Someone inform the blinding genius of the from-out-of-town, resume-building City Bureaucrats who are so much smarter than everyone else that this is the Mid-Atlantic region of the eastern United States.

Many thanks.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 12:05, i believe there was to be an east side sub station there. not sure about the full station, those plans were under kuhn, whose eyes were bigger than our budget.

anon 12:14, i'm not familiar with the new england ave., but perhaps it was in connection with lehigh & new england railroad.

sjkratzer said...

New england ave... will connect to the new lehigh river bridge? I believe the stoplight was installed due to a pedestrian being struck and killed around that bend, an attempt to slow traffic.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps...

But, City Bureaucrats have (willfully, intentionally?) created their own cloud of controversy and accompanying cynicism.

And that bill has come due with some creditors.

Anonymous said...

1:39 is 12:14...

...and wondering where the standard commentary trashing the history of evil, greedy, and, most importantly, rotten and mean-spirited United States that normally greet posts of this nature at this blog are at today?

Perhaps protesting in Wisconsin...

michael molovinsky said...

anon aka 12;14, 1:39 and 1:42. i was somewhat inciting with my last, unnecessary sentence. my original purpose was our railroad history. no less than six railroads serviced our industrial might, which was legendary.

Anonymous said...

The traffic light remains from the intersection with Dauphin St. It was removed just a few years ago as part of the redevelopment of the area.

New England Avenue will connect with Hanover Ave immediately east of the old station, aligning with Ellsworth St. This new road will run under an existing overpass on Union Blvd and connect with Dauphin St near the location of the American Parkway bridge.

Construction on New England Ave has begun but has stalled as the result of contractor who is alleging soil contamination in an attempt to extort additional money out of the city.

John said...

The freight depot was another failed attempt by the City to be real estate developers. They bought the building to make an east side substation, then decided that they could attach the property to their application to the HOPE grant to rebuild the projects and make it more attractive.

The City has a track record of "buying" vacant industrial sites and not doing enough due diligence on the site and getting stuck holding the bag when the work needs to start.

Case in point, the Lehigh riverfront project. The City has, and still is, trying anything they can to acquire and real estate they can down along Front St for the Last 30 years now. They got the old A&B site and were so caught up in the moment they forgot to see where the chemicals from the slaughterhouse were stored (OOPS). Once they started demolition they found numerous tanks underground that had to be removed.

Another case in point on the riverfront is the newly acquired Neuweiler Brewery. The City took this property and is now spending upwards of 35 to 40 MILLION dollars in environmental cleanup (I know because that is the estimate I was given at wholesale, not the special "government only" rate that contractor's have). Then to top it off, they bought the adjacent property to the rear for $800,000 (no that is not a typo). The property has plenty of environmental issues of its own with the former owner's dumping on the site (well burying is more the word). The City would have known more about this, but they were too busy carting the owner of the brewery to jail when he was trying to give them the evidence they needed.

At one time, in my younger "I know better than you" days, Mike and I would argue the City's role in real estate development and you know what, he was right, I was just too young to realize it.

If anyone needs any further proof, just take a look at the various real estate projects the City takes part in. Can't find any? I'll be more than happy to point them out.

John said...

Also, in regards to the soil contamination, the City as a public entity must check out any environmental issues and get them squared away before they do anything. I am not 100% sure but I believe that they are legally required to under the law to do so.

Not saying the contractor isn't milking it, I am not here to debate that, I don't know enough about this specific situation.

This is why it is best for the City to not even take title to brownfield sites and just to help put the property owners in touch with buyers. Now of course if it is absolutely necessary, they should just to get something done, if there is a viable, better for the commnity, reuse once complete or if there is an immediate threat to public safety. Usually in the case of the City, neither apply, it is merely the "acquire to control" mentality.