The House by the Railroad – Haverstraw, New York - Atlas Obscura

The House by the Railroad

Haverstraw, New York

This house was the subject of an Edward Hopper painting, which in turn helped inspire the design of the Bates house in Alfred Hitchcock's 'Psycho.' 


In 1919, Rockland County Attorney General, Thomas Gagan, bought this house along Route 9W in Haverstraw, New York. His daughter, Amo, lived there for 50 years. According to local history, as a 13-year old, she saw Edward Hopper seated at his portable easel on the gravel sidings of the train track creating the painting that would become a masterpiece of American art and the prototype for an iconic image from American cinema.

The house was built in 1885 and still stands today, with a railroad on one side. Hopper painted The House by the Railroad in 1925 (nearly two decades before he produced his best-known painting, Nighthawks). Like many of his other works, this painting has a sense of loneliness and mystery about it.

That sense of mystery may be why the director Alfred Hitchcock based the Bates Mansion in his 1960 film Psycho on Hopper’s painting. Some details were changed: the Bates house is darker and surrounded by trees, but retains the shape and many of the architectural details of the house in Haverstraw.

Know Before You Go

The house is a private residence, please observe from a respectful distance.

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