The Harlem division was the first track of what became the New York Central. Starting in downtown Manhattan, it began as the world’s first streetcar line (powered by horses) in 1831 and reached Chatham, New York, by 1852. Although a route along the Hudson River eventually became the New York Central’s main line, NYC subsidiary Boston & Alban ran trains over the Harlem Division through to Albany.
This timetable shows nearly 50 commuter trains a day from Grand Central Terminal to White Plains, with some going beyond White Plains but only five reaching as far as Chatham and four going on to Albany. Sunday schedules were far less frequent but Saturday was considered a weekday, as the five-day work week had not yet become common.
“Suburban Homes: The territory north of the Harlem River along the New York Central Lines is, by its natural characteristics, perfectly adapted for Summer homes,” says one of the few ads in this timetable. “This territory contains more beautiful places, a greater variety of scenery and greater advantages in the matter of suitable residence property than any other suburban district near New York.”
The area offers “low commutation rates” and “real rapid transit,” the ad continues. “The rich man who wants large estates and the man of modest means who is seeking a home where he can have the conveniences of the city—electric lights, telephones, primary, grammar and high schools, churches, libraries, excellent stores and markets—combined with the light, fresh air and beauty of the country, are alike accommodated.” Interested parties were invited to request a copy of Suburban Homes on the New York Central Lines. Although similar publications from the Burlington and Pennsylvania railroads are downloadable from archive.org, I haven’t found the New York Central one.