East Harlem’s upper-class tenement names

Tenement buildings all over New York have names—some after politicians or presidents, others for girls and women whose relationships to the builders have been lost to the ages.

And strangely, several tenements in East Harlem have elegant, urbane monikers. Perhaps the turn-of-the-century developers selected names meant to attract a more well-off, aspirational class of renters?

The Boulevard is on Lexington and 124th Street. “Boulevard” has such an upper-crust ring to it. Maybe Lexington Avenue was supposed to rival the tree-lined Boulevard on the West Side.

The Newport on East 110th Street—it harkens back to the posh Newport, Rhode Island of the Vanderbilts, Astors, and other wealthy New Yorkers.

The Centennial, appropriately named after the year it was built, arrived a little before the tenements in the rest of the neighborhood.

It sounds triumphant and grand there on Third Avenue and 116th Street. Too bad the upper part of the building is rundown and bricked up.

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2 Responses to “East Harlem’s upper-class tenement names”

  1. writing workshop Says:

    The Centennial, appropriately named after the year it was built, arrived a little before the tenements in the rest of the neighborhood.

  2. Felix Leo Campos Says:

    Considering that East Harlem has, to my knowledge, always been a working class, immigrant neighborhood I just can’t envision the names having the same connotation as it would imply.
    It seem a contradiction to have given the buildings these names but not fill the neighborhood with the folks who would have best fitted the description. Perhaps it was a cruel joke on the working & immigrant classes of residents.

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