Harlem River Speed Racers

Horse and buggy racing was a popular pastime in late 19th century New York, and with this in mind, the city constructed the Harlem River Speedway, a 3-mile stretch of dirt road from 155th Street to Dyckman Street along the Harlem River.

Opened in 1898, it was a beautiful spot: the river on one side, rocky bluffs on the other, pedestrian lanes for spectators and walkers, and the gorgeous High Bridge in view.

Bicyclists were not permitted on the road back in the day, but that’s changed: The Speedway is now part of the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway, the city’s spectacular walking and cycling path around the perimeters of Manhattan.

The message on this postcard is sweet: “My dear Mrs. B, how would you like to take a spin in your auto?”

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10 Responses to “Harlem River Speed Racers”

  1. Manhattan’s other Washington Bridge « Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Here’s another view of the Speedway. […]

  2. The Roving Runner: Baseball Nostalgia in the Bronx - Well Blog - NYTimes.com Says:

    […] out to the pathway, I resumed my southward run, sandwiched between the river and the highway. To my right, Highbridge Park loomed high above a steep, rocky hill. To my left, the Bronx seemed a […]

  3. Jerry Kelly Says:

    My Dad, born in 1913, was raised in Manhattan and the Bronx. When he was a Boy Scout back in the mid-1920s, he and other Scouts would go on overnight camping trips under this bridge!

  4. James Seraphine Says:

    My Great Grandfather was the owner of the Speedway Inn around 1905 to around 1919. It was a famous “Roadhouse” on the Harlem River Speedway which was a bar,restaurant and inn.

    If anyone has any knowlege about this place please contact the above e-mail.


    • Josh Says:

      James – what was the name of your great-grandfather? My family lived at the Speedway Inn during that time. Perhaps there is a connection? Email me on joshmonk@yahoo.com.

    • Sharon Williams Says:

      was your great grandfather Michael Seraphine? He was my grandfather’s father on my mother’s side.

      • James Seraphine Says:

        Yes, he was. He was my father’s Grandfather and my dad used to go to the Speedway Inn as a young child. E-mail me. Sorry it took so long to get back to you but I didn’t check this site.


      • James Seraphine Says:

        Hey, just wondering if you ever saw my e-mail. I’m curious about the connection to Michael Seraphine. This seems to be the guy. My Grandfather was his son -Philip.

      • Sharon Williams Says:

        I didn’t till just now. My Grandfather was Charles Michael Seraphine. My email is shrenlee@charter.net

  5. John F Cockerill Says:

    My Grandfather was John F Cockerill and he was vice President of the association. He and Nathan Strauss raced together.

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