Posts Tagged ‘Harsenville’

Defunct city addresses on vintage real estate ads

August 11, 2014

Lots for sale on 83rd and 84th Streets at Avenues A and B? That’s not a misprint—York Avenue was Avenue A until the 1920s (and some Avenue A signage still exists, like this school address).

As for Avenue B, based on the faint map on the 1854 ad, it’s the last avenue before the East River.

AvenuesA&Blotsforsale1854

Manhattan Square? This existed once too at today’s Central Park West in upper 70s and 80s.

In 1852, when this auction was scheduled to be held, it seems to have been part of the sparsely populated village of Harsenville.

Manhattansquarelotsuaction1852

What a difference 20 years makes. In the 1870s, it was secured for the site for the American Museum of Natural History, which occupies the four-block square today.

Anthony J. Bleecker, a member of the family Bleecker Street was named after, must have been the preeminent auctioneer at the time. I wonder what he sold these lots for?

[Vintage ads: Museum of the City of New York Collections Portal]

Where was the West Side town of Strycker’s Bay?

October 22, 2012

Until the late 19th century, the Upper West Side consisted mainly of the suburb of Bloomingdale and some smaller villages, such as Carmanville (or Carmansville), Manhattanville, and Harsenville.

Another long-gone village was Strycker’s Bay, spanning present-day 86th Street to 96th Street. It took its name from an inlet at 96th Street that’s since been filled in.

“The elevated area of Bloomingdale that included Oak Villa was generally called Striker’s Bay, and was the heart of the wealthy suburb,” wrote Peter Salwen in Upper West Side Story.

“It reached roughly from merchant John McVickar’s sixty-acre estate at modern 86th Street, with its winding drive and large Palladian house, to St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, Bloomingdale’s second church, which stood above a pretty stream at 99th Street and Amsterdam Avenue.”

The name and its many spellings came from Gerrit Striker, who built a farm at 97th Street and Columbus Avenue.

What kind of hamlet was Strycker’s Bay? Probably a sleepy one, though there was a ferry to take residents downtown.

Later in the 19th century, the farmhouse became the Striker’s Bay Tavern, a “‘secluded little snuggery’ at the foot of a steep lane with a dock and, in later days, a small station of the Hudson River Railroad,” writes Salwen.

It sounds like quite a party spot. “The lawn by the river made a fine dance floor, and behind the house there were targets for shooting parties.”

Today the hamlet is gone, but the name survives as part of the Strycker’s Bay Neighborhood Council, which supports affordable housing, and the Strycker’s Bay Apartments on 94th Street.

[Maps: Strycker's Bay Neighborhood Council]

West 72nd Street before the Dakota

October 22, 2010

It was one of the first apartment houses in the city, a Gothic, Victorian, French Renaissance–inspired mix of lovely gables, dormers, railings, and moldings.

And if you were lucky enough to be able to afford a flat in the Dakota around 1884, the year the building opened, here’s what the view outside your window would have be like.

This 1890 photograph, published in New York: An Illustrated History, looks south from Central Park West and 72nd Street.

It’s an amazing contrast: the Dakota, an example of Gilded Age opulence, vs. the shacks and shanties of the surrounding blocks.

It wouldn’t look this way for much longer. The Upper West Side was fast transitioning from a collection of villages such as Harsenville and Bloomingdale into a neighborhood of brownstones and apartment houses.

Manhattan’s lost village of Harsenville

August 22, 2009

Some of New York’s old village names survive today: think Chelsea, Yorkville, New Utrecht, and Gravesend. Others get unceremoniously wiped off the map, with not even a train station bearing the old name. 

That’s what happened to Harsenville. In the late 1700 and 1800s, this little hamlet spanned 68th Street to 81st Street between Central Park West and the Hudson River. It got its name from Jacob Harsen, a farmer who settled there in 1763.

This is his house below, at today’s Tenth Avenue and 70th Street, in an 1888 New-York Historical Society photograph.

Jacobharsenhouse

Other farm families followed, and soon, a real town formed. Harsenville Road went through what is now Central Park; schools, churches, and shops opened.

By 1911, however, Harsenville was kaput, reports a 1911 New York Times piece on old-timers reminiscing about their ‘hood. The blocks of brand-new brownstones and apartment houses were soon to be known collectively as the Upper West Side.

Interestingly, one new condo building on West 72nd Street capitalizes on the Upper West Side’s small-town history: The developers named it Harsen House.


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