The Broadways nobody knows about

Forget Broadway, East Broadway, and West Broadway. On 125th Street just east of big Broadway is the block-long Old Broadway, one of the last little roads uptown that somehow wasn’t obliterated after most of the city was mapped out as a rectangular grid in 1807.

If you’re looking for a precious pathway, you’ll be disappointed; there’s not much to see. One exception: the Old Broadway Synagogue. Founded in 1911, it’s the last synagogue in Harlem and a reminder that the neighborhood always had somewhat of an ethnic mix. After World War I, Harlem was home to the third-largest Jewish community in the world.

But wait, there’s more Broadway. A few miles downtown lies Broadway Alley, a raffish, unpaved driveway that runs from 26th to 27th Street between Lexington and Third Avenues. It’s a private road not maintained by the city, yet no one will stop you from walking through it.

According to an 1875 New York Times article, Broadway Alley was “a dirty causeway” with stables on one side and on the other “a broken and blistered and dingy and half-windowless row of tenement-houses” with “African matrons sitting on the flag-stones talking the latest gossip.” 

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One Response to “The Broadways nobody knows about”

  1. Michelle Murphy Says:

    My wild bohemian Robert Strada, lived here at no. 8 Broadway Alley when we met in 1979…I moved in, and wallpapered, painted, and curtained the ancient loft…we had the whole building and alley to ourselves, and a few stray folks seeking refuge in the cobblestoned gated roadway now and then….we could even park our cars there…my fiat spider convertible, navy w camel, and his split window coup, a mustard ’77 corvette.

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