Monday, August 8, 2011

Audubon Park

 This is just north of 155th street on Riverside Drive. The original route of Riverside Drive turned here and headed east, then north. A viaduct was put in (it is also called Riverside Drive) and then the Henry Hudson Parkway, obliterating this last bit of the old Audubon estate, "Minnies Land". Purchased in 1841, the estate was a rural retreat in an ever changing island. The population that doubled every 20 years during the 19th century, eben James Audubon knew that this would not last forever.

 This is detail from the picture below. The Victorian house in the lower left corner, the Wheelcock mansion was there until the mid 1930's.

 More detail from the first photo.

 A map of the area, probably just before the Civil War.

 This is a map of the same area from 1873. The estate of James Audubon started selling off the land as you can see. The Wheelcock house and property are marked on this map.

 This is a map of the same area from 1916. This map clearly shows some familiar buildings, such as the Grinnell. The Wheelcock house is still there but upon further examination the Depot Hotel is not.

 This is the last days of the Wheelcock mansion.

 What is interesting about this map is, while it is only a map, you can get an idea of the topography of the land. Those squiggly lines running through "Minnies Land" are streams. In contemporary descriptions, it is mentioned that the streams emptied, by way of waterfalls, into the Hudson.
The railroad seems to be on an embankment on the river, which left a body of water between the shore and the tracks. It did not take all that long for the shore to be landfilled out to the tracks, thus obliterating the natural shoreline of Manhattan. This is obvious in the photos as well as the later (chronologically) maps I posted.
Also in this map, it is noted that there is a station at 152nd street as well as the Hudson River Railroad Hotel. These tracks, which are obviously still there, once carried passenger trains as well as freight.

 This is the Audubon Cottage around 1925. It will not be here too much longer. The house at this point is not even 100 years old. Amazing how fast Manhattan changed. The Apartment building just above the "cottage" is building next to The Riviera Apartments on 155th and Riverside.

 Opening by the late 1920's, this is the viaduct that obliterated what was left of Audubon park.  The main purpose of this new viaduct was to move traffic directly to the new George Washington Bridge, seen under construction in the background.  It is also called Riverside Drive which is why there are two Riverside Drives at this point. The old Riverside Drive snakes around towards the east, around the old property lines of Audubon Park. The New York side tower of the George Washington Bridge is in the background. The bridge would open in 1931. 

The tracks here are gone, all but two. The two on the right are still used today by Amtrak. This is looking north from 143rd street and Riverside. The little house on the right is still there, without a roof however. It looks as though it could have been a station house for the railroad but it is, according to the Parks Department, a gardener's tool shed from the late 1870's. This yard is now occupied by the bike path and the sewage treatment plant.

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