The Upper East Side’s secret 19th century alley

If you’ve never heard of Henderson Place, a lilliputian cul-de-sac off of 86th Street and East End Avenue, you probably have plenty of company.

This is one of those dollhouse-like nooks tucked among big apartment houses that even longtime Manhattan residents never see.

But it’s such a pretty, well-preserved enclave of Victorian-era New York, it’s worth a walk-by.

Named for landowner John Henderson, the 24 Queen Anne–style houses (as well as others surrounding it that were demolished years ago, as shown in the undated photo) went up in 1882 for “persons of moderate means.

“The use of features such as wide arched entryways, terra cotta plaques, windows divided into tiny square panes, and projecting bays and oriels produced an enclave of buildings that were of a high level of design, even though they were not intended to house members of a higher social class,” states nyc-architecture.com.

The houses on the west side of Henderson Place were torn down in 1940, while the rest of the alley was designated a historical district in 1969.

Of course, they’re no longer in the price range of the typical person of modest means. According to this Streeteasy listing, one of the houses recently sold for about $4 million. Take a peek inside here.

[Vintage photo: Museum of the City of New York]

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3 Responses to “The Upper East Side’s secret 19th century alley”

  1. wendy Says:

    Forest Hills Gardens (in Queens) was another neighborhood developed for people of modest means (by the Russell Sage Foundation). By the time it was built, however, it was already not affordable for those people. And now it is a very exclusive enclave and no one, no government, union, private developer or charitable organization builds homes or the “typical person of modest means.”

  2. manhattan resident Says:

    I thought the western end of Henderson Place was torn down in the mid 1950’s. The buildings were torn down to accommodate the ugly apartment building on the west side of the Henderson place homes. Most of that site was a hospital called Misrecordia, that moved to the Bronx back then.

    • petey Says:

      there was a number of hospitals in this district, misericordia and doctors’ were two in which my mum (an RN) worked.

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