Saturday, October 29, 2011
Up at the top is a triangular shaped lot with a house indicated as well as the name M.T. Brennan. He was a Tammany Hall connected officer in the New York City Fire Department who did very well. The house and surrounding land were ultimately sold the Isidore and Ida Straus who died on the Titanic. The house, which contained the first cast iron / porcelain clad bath tub in the United States. The Straus's were health conscience and believed in out door exercise and the children in the household had use of a baseball diamond. The land around the house was ample and contained what was called "the old barn" that the children had use of as well. The Bloomingdale Road was very important to George Washington as he escaped New York after the disastrous Battle of Long Island (Brooklyn) and there were skirmishes all along the road. One of those skirmishes centered around a barn next to a buckwheat field centered around what is now 106th Street and West End Avenue. The barn at that site was owned by a dutch farmer who also owned the buckwheat field next to it. Is it not possible that the old barn was the site of that gun fight? Quite possibly the place where Massachusetts born Thomas Knowlton, leader of Knowlton's Rangers, died during a failed surprise attack on the British during the Battle of Harlem Heights? It is possible that this is the place. It is also possible that it was here, or near here, that Nathan Hale was sent on his "secret", or as his friends called it a "suicide mission" by Knowlton. Nathan Hale, a zealous patriot, quite possibly defied all orders and started what became known as the Great Fire of 1776. Hale had been seen by British Officers with "incendiary devices" down in lower Manhattan. Knowlton died on September 16th and the Great fire was on September 21rst. Possible.
This 125th Street looking west from 7th Avenue. This is in the middle of World War II, the street cars still running across this well traveled and even then congested street but the marquee's are the give away. DuBarry Was A Lady starring Lucille Ball, Red Skelton and Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra was released in 1943 and is playing at Oscar Hammerstein's Harlem Opera House. Ethel Waters is at the Apollo and Johnny Come Lately, also 1943, starring James Cagney and (featured prominently on the the marquee) Oscar winner Hattie McDaniel. This was the Broadway of Harlem. On 7th Avenue between 124th and 125th was the Harlem Casino, built in the late 1880's when Harlem was populated by a large German Jewish community and was largely Caucasian. In 1910, local resident (111th and 7th Avenue) Marcus Loew converted the casino into a 1606 seat theater equipped for movies, vaudeville and legit theater. After the turn of the century Harlem became home to a large community of middle class African Americans. Even with the population shift, African Americans were not served at many local restaurants, not admitted into various theaters and when they were admitted, only in the balcony. This strip was often referred to as the great "white" way.
By World War II, as the demographics of the area changed, so did the Jim Crow policies. Economics dictated this change. This may explain why Hattie McDaniel is featured so prominently on the marquee of Loew's Victoria.
This is a detail from an 1867 map showing what we now refer to as 125th street. The little village, the cluster of buildings anyway, is the village of Manhattanville. East of Amsterdam Avenue, known then as 10th Avenue, 125th street intersected with a street called Manhattan Street. Today, the intersection is still there, sort of. The original cross streets have been renamed or obliterated by Morningside Gardens and the Grant Houses. If you look at a Google map of this area, you will see that if you draw a straight line, east to west across the grid, LaSalle Street is 125th Street west of Amsterdam Avenue. There are extreme anomalies in the grid here, West 125th street intersected by West 129th Street for example. The original name of the subway stop at 125th Street was Manhattan Street.
This is part of the area called Manhattanville. There is still a Manhattanville Post Office on West 125th Street. The NYCTA bus depot is referred to as "The Manhattanville Depot". Manhattanville was a self contained village dating from the very early 19th century. A very mixed neighborhood in that there was the Tiemann Paint Works, The Tiemann Estate (on what was the southern border of Manhattanville) Convent of the Sacred Heart, Manhattanville College (now located in Westchester County) and the Oswald Ottendorfer estate running from Broadway (or the Boulevard as it was known then) to the river beginning at West 135th Street. There was also a passenger station located at grade level (meaning street level) at 130th street. Although passenger service on the line had ended long ago, the little station house stood until the 1920's. Between the Tiemann and the Ottendorfer estates, there was this valley, and there still is. At the center of this valley, the heart of the community called Manhattanville, was the industrial / working class section. This picture shows a house that lasted until at least 1931 (this is the date of the photo). It stood on what was 127th street just east of "Old Broadway".
This is the same early 19th century wood frame house from the north side of it. This structure probably predates the Civil War. It stood on"Old Broadway", a street that still exists. It is a remnant of the old Bloomingdale Road continuation north of 111th Street, Kingsbridge Road.
This place makes me want to get gas. We are looking east from the corner of 12th Avenue and Manhattan Street (125th Street). There is still a gas station on this site and the service area behind the pumps is now a defunct car wash. In the background is the Sheffield Farms milk processing facility, making such things as Sealtest Milk.
This is yet a different gas station. There are still 2 gas stations along Manhattan Street (125th) and I believe that this is the one further east from the one below. I am basing this on the fact that you can see the Sheffield Farms sign in the background in the previous picture. I also believe that we are looking west towards the Riverside Drive Viaduct which would place this station east of the previous picture.
This is looking west towards Broadway and the arch of the I.R.T. Manhattan street station. The house in the foreground is the same house in the March 4th photos. This is about 1920.
According to the New York City record of registered voters of 1887 and 1888, James, Abraham and Richard Pettits called this home. Originally 77 Manhattan Street, later 515 West 125th
This is the Dr. John Ferdinand home at 230 West 125th Street. It was located on the south side of 125th Street just west of 7th Avenue. The site now is included in the lot upon which the old Blumstein's Department Store building still stands today. The good Doctor Ferdinand lived here from 1880 to 1887, after residing on West 127th Street during the 1870's. This house is on the real 125th street as it is way east of the intersection of Manhattan Street and 125th Street.
This is on the north side of 125th street between First and Second Avenues. This picture represents several things. It is a homage to an ever-changing city. We have a middle class single family wood frame home from the mid nineteenth century sandwiched between an industrial building on the left and a tenement building on the right.
The frame house has a mansard roof judging by the shadows being cast by the projecting windows. There was a major flirtation, or as Christopher Gray in the Sunday Times called it, a "heyday of mansard roofs" between 1868 and 1873. One of the earliest uses of the this french architectural import was at 17 East 128th Street.
The buildings were built at different times, as the neighborhood changed, so did what was being built. By the early 1880's the area became more accessible with the opening of the Second Avenue El. These structures, none more than 85 years old in this 1932 photograph, are soon to vanish. By 1934 construction for the Triboro Bridge will be in full swing and the entire block would disappear.
This is Broadway at West 106th street prior to the subway being built. The picture was taken September 25, 1900 and the path up the center malls with their very old trees (elms?) would soon disappear.
The building straight up the path behind the trees is the Manhasset, part of the big wave of apartment building development in anticipation of the opening of the subway. Originally designed by Joesph Wolf, construction began in 1899. The first 8 floors were finished by 1901 but the developer defaulted. A new owner steps in with the architects Janes & Leo who finish the building with three more stories and the distinctive mansard roof. Along with their Dorilton on Broadway and 71rst street, Janes & Leo's Manhasset is a New York City landmark.
The group of trees on the left is part of Bloomingdale Square. Now known as Straus Park as the Titanic has not been built yet. Behind the trees is the still standing but substantially altered apartment buildings (now joined together as one) that are the home to the Indian Cafe and 107 West.
This is West 106th Street and Broadway looking east from the center mall. This building, on the south east corner of 106th and Broadway, is home to a pool hall, now the location of Body Strength gym.
This is the side of the building on 106th and Broadway. In the previous picture you can see that there is a pool hall in residence on the 2nd floor. The sign on the third floor is advertising a "Modern" Hebrew school. The 2nd floor windows in this picture are displaying the Star of David. There is Hebrew on the awning over the entrance to the upper floors as well as on the store front to our right. In addition the little wood frame building to the east (our left) has something in Hebrew in it's store front as well. That little building is still standing
This is the Bloomingdale (Dutch) Reformed church. This is actually the 4th building. The first three were located at what is now (approximately anyway) 68th and Broadway. This church lasted only 10 years, the land becoming more valuable than what was on it (a common theme in this town) and gave way to the present 949 West End Avenue.
This is the third Bloomingdale Reform Church at 68th and Broadway. It could seat a 1000 people. The buildings to the left in the background are on Central Park West at 72nd street. That is The Dakota on the left and the Hotel Majestic on the right. The hotel, which stood on the south side of 72nd street and Central Park West was replaced by the art deco twin towers of The Majestic Apartments.