Inwood: Substation No. 10

June 30, 2009 -

The New York Central Railroad Substation No. 10 is a 79-year-old art-deco building on the northwest edge of Inwood, Manhattan. Located just steps from an active Amtrak line on the Hudson River, the substation is nestled between two Henry Hudson Parkway overpasses.

According to a study of the Harlem River done by Columbia University's Department of Historic Preservation, "the New York Central Railroad Substation was built in 1930 to provide electrical service for the trains on the NYCRR’s Hudson River line. The five-thousand-square-foot, two-room, brick structure is an example of the pre-Columbian style of Art Deco... employing motifs borrowed from Aztec and Mayan cultures..."

Pre-Columbian Style

Substation 10 has been abandoned for decades, with graffiti and primitive wall drawings that date back to at least the 1980's. In 2003, an active squatter community was reported by the NY Times: "homeless people scurry in and out through the back windows of the structure... and leave years of clothes, mattresses and Chinese takeout containers scattered around the electrical equipment inside." Despite years of neglect, the interior of Substation 10 remained in remarkably good condition. Its massive power equipment, staircases and ventilation systems were rusty, but fairly intact.

Substation Interior

The Department of Parks & Recreation began gutting Substation No. 10 earlier this June. Today, a sign out front explains the building is being "reconstructed to provide public restrooms" and "possible community use." Large dumpsters are slowly being filled with bricks and electrical devices stripped from the interior. No mention has been made of a reported proposal for an arts center with "an upscale Latino restaurant to be built on the top floor." Work is scheduled to be completed in Spring of 2010.

These photos are a last look at the old interior of Substation Number 10, and were taken shortly before its "reconstruction" began.

Ground Floor

Steps & Woman


Brahma Bull Wall Drawing

Fire Damage

Escher View


Exhaust: Curve & Coil

Top Floor: Final Words


  1. Nice.. I guess you just might be the last person to bother going in there.

    Was this one of your permission spots?

  2. Haha, love the last pic. Someone left you a message.

  3. Imagine yourself being at the time when this beautiful structure was getting built!

    Run of House Hotel Rooms

  4. I love this: old and creepy but also beautiful.

  5. Great work...I enjoyed your commentary as well as the photos.

  6. i happened to walk by this building a couple of weeks ago and wondered about it. thanks!

  7. Nathan: you have an amazing blog - you have a gift of finding interesting subjects.

  8. Nice job. I've almost gone in this place a couple times. I live 7 blocks north of this place. Nice composition!

  9. Thank you! I grew up just off Dyckman St. (Thayer St.) and we use to hang out down by the river, go to the trestle, or Payson Park etc. and I've walked or ran by that building a million times and could only imagine what was inside it, I am surprised as mischievous as we were we never went in through the back or wherever, so after having lived in Inwood for 31 years I can finally say I know what the hell was in there and what it looked like! At 52 yrs. old I still love exploring!!

  10. To the last post - grew up on Arden St but have been in NJ since 1970 - this was a nice walk down memory lane.

  11. These pictures brought back sooooo many memories of a past life. Not proudly I was heavily crack addicted(clean 4 yrs now) and spent many a night inside that building. As scary as it was I always felt safe because the people who lived in there looked out for me. There was Jenny(who has become a nurse and straightened her life out), Mexico(dont know real name) and JJ. JJ lived inside one of the small brick cubicles shown in the pictures. I found out recently that he actually passed away on the roof of the building. Though these people lived hard lives it was amazing to watch how they were able to survive and live as a community in such a dismal place. So when you look at these pictures please think of some of the people who lived and in some cases died there and who gave this place a life, albeit a hard one. It truly was a shame that the city threw these people out onto the streets to fend for themselves when they had a place to at least brave the elements.