Where was Manhattan’s lost town of Carmanville?

Carmanville was just another little hamlet, like Harsenville and the Piggery District, thriving on Manhattan’s West Side in the 19th century.

Named after its founder, a wealthy contractor named Richard Carman, Carmanville’s exact boundaries are a little unclear.

According to Phelps’ New-York City Guide, published in 1853:

“This is a pleasant village, situated upon the rising ground, on the Hudson River, in the vicinity of Fort Washington.”

Another reference, The Tree Bore Fruit, about nearby Manhattan College and published in 1953, puts Carmenville a good 28 blocks south at 155th Street.

[NYPL postcard of 155th and Amsterdam Avenue in 1917—the remains of Carmanville?]

And according to a 1914 New York Times article, a Carmanville Park once was located at Amsterdam Avenue and 152nd Street.

Still another Times article, published in 2004 to commemorate the opening of the New York City subway, has Carmanville at 125th Street.

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34 Responses to “Where was Manhattan’s lost town of Carmanville?”

  1. petey Says:

    link to phelps:


  2. Matthew Says:

    Carmansville wrapped around Trinity Cemetery, stretching across the upper part of present-day Harlem and the lower part of Washington Heights, encompassing a large part of the land between 145th Street and 158th Streets (including the cemetery briefly before Richard Carman sold it to the Trinity Corporation in 1843). The village, with a blacksmith, butcher, grocer, etc., clustered around Amsterdam between 152nd and 157th Streets and houses stretched from it in all directions. The Carmansville Station at the foot of 152nd Street on the Hudson serviced the Hudson River RR.

    Picture of Richard F. Carman’s monument in Trinity Cemetery:


    More information about Carmansville and its immediate neighbor, Audubon Park: http://www.audubonparkny.com/AudubonParkBriefHistory.html

  3. Eric K. Washington Says:

    The image identified above as “[NYPL postcard of 155th and Amsterdam Avenue in 1917—the remains of Carmanville?]” is neither a postcard nor Carmansville. It depicts the little wooden railroad depot at the foot of West 130th Street by the Hudson River at Manhattanville, a town established in 1806. This was the first northbound stop on the Hudson River Railroad. The newly-elected President Abraham Lincoln stopped here on February 20, 1861, then once again in death as his funeral train passed by on April 25, 1865. The depot was demolished in about 1920. In the central background stands Manhattan College (now in Riverdale, The Bronx) and the steeple of the Church of the Annunciation on the Boulevard (now Broadway) at West 131st Street. The image was most likely made in the early 1870s after the grading of Broadway and the re-modeling of the College. This image and others of the depot, college and church are featured in my book, “Manhattanville: Old Heart of West Harlem”:
    Eric K. Washington

  4. MFOUND: In the central background stands MC | Jasper Jottings Says:

    […] https://ephemeralnewyork.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/where-was-manhattans-lost-town-of-carmanville/ […]

  5. JASPER JOTTINGS Week 06 – 2010 JAN 06 « Jasper Jottings Weekly … The achievements of my fellow alums … …. Copyright 2007-2011 F. Reinke All Rights Reserved Says:

    […] https://ephemeralnewyork.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/where-was-manhattans-lost-town-of-carmanville/ *** begin quote *** […]

  6. Ilunga Bediako-Kisangane Says:

    I luv u Erik u are indeed “THE MAN”

  7. Eric K. Washington Says:

    P.S. – The Carmansville Park referred to above that in 1914 “was located at Amsterdam Avenue and 152nd Street” still exists today at the SE corner of the same crossing, right next door to the Dance Theatre of Harlem.

    Also, the 2004 NY Times article cited above that “has Carmanville at 125th Street” was in error; a correction, which appears at the bottom of the article, makes note that the old neighborhood “over which the [subway] tracks soared” was indeed Manhattanville.

  8. jack Says:

    A comment from a charactor in a BBC America mini-series, Copper, now on TWC brought me to this page. He had moved from Five Points to the country, ” Carmenville “.

  9. wildnewyork Says:

    I was wondering why this post was suddenly getting lots of traffic. How is the show?

  10. Eric K. Washington Says:

    My frequent tours of Trinity Church Cemetery (Uptown) usually end at the grave of Richard F. Carman, namesake of Carmansville. I also feature him in my iPhone app, “Trinity Church Cemetery,” produced by Rama/Crimson Bamboo. It was Carman who sold Trinity Church the 24 acres of land for its cemetery in 1842. (The land was not part of James J. Audubon’s adjacent estate, as is often claimed.)

    Carman’s several public offices included Alderman and School Inspector. But his earliest claim to fame appears to have come from rebuilding much of New York City that was destroyed by the Great Fire of 1835. Writers of the time claim its blaze was seen as far away as New Haven, Connecticut, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

    In the 1840s, Moses Yale Beach wrote in his survey, “Wealth and Biography of the Wealthy Citizens of New York City,” that Carman, born in 1801, acquired his carpentry and building skills “as a poor boy, making packing boxes for merchants.” Carman’s reputation won him building contracts in the “burnt district” of the Great Fire. The enterprise brought him enough wealth to continue building and investing in real estate, which grew in value.

    Carman’s son-in-law was city surveyor Gardiner Avery Sage (1813-1882), whose is buried in an adjacent plot. Sage’s detailed maps remain invaluable chronicles of the city’s mid-19th-century growth from lower Manhattan to its upper reaches. I’ve no proof, but I suspect that Sage’s maps might have contributed to nailing the eponymous name of the new village his father-in-law was laying out in the late 1840s.

    On July 18, 1867, Richard F. Carman’s obituary in the New York Times read in part, “Mr. Carman dispensed his wealth liberally, and his ear was ever open to the appeals of the needy and friendless.”

    Unfortunately, I’ve not yet found an image of him.

    • Celia Maddox Says:

      I have looked everywhere for Richard F Carman’s New York Times obituary, which seems to have vanished, or for obituaries of him in other newspapers. Do you have a copy of the obit you quote from?
      (He died 18 July 1867)

      • Eric K. Washington Says:

        Celia, the New York Times obit for Richard F. Carman, “whose death was announced…a few days ago,” appeared on July 18, 1867, p. 8, in the “General News” column. I’d be happy to send you a screen shot of it if you give me your contact email.

      • Celia Says:

        Eric, I would really appreciate the screen shot. My NYT searches can’t find that obit anywhere.
        Many thanks

  11. The Upper West Side hamlet of Strycker’s Bay « Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] the Upper West Side consisted of the suburb of Bloomingdale and some smaller hamlets, such as Carmanville (or Carmansville), Manhattanville, and […]

  12. 70th and Amsterdam, 1888 « THE BALL-ĀBAN NEWS Says:

    […] Harsenville is the subject of a fascinating retrospective over at Ephemeral New York, along with the Manhattan towns of Strycker’s Bay and Carmanville. […]

  13. P. Gavan Says:

    I just came upon a reference to Carmanville while researching the history of New York’s Mounted Police Unit. Established in 1871, the unit had two stables — one on 87th and 1st Avenue and one on 7th Ave. at 152nd Street, “in the area known as Carmansville.”

    • Eric K. Washington Says:

      The citation on the website that reads “on 152nd Street and 7th Avenue in the area known as Carmansville” was probably transcribed incorrectly. It should read 10th or Tenth Avenue (now Amsterdam Avenue), where the old station house still stands. The NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission gave it an official landmark designation in 1986.

      Built in 1871, the former 32nd Precinct Mounted Police Station house (later the 30th Police Precinct house) at the southwest corner of Amsterdam Avenue and 152nd Street is a holdout from the days when the area was best known as Carmansville (the namesake of the public playground across the avenue). The so-called “trans-Harlem” area of upper Manhattan was a country district where mounted police were a substantial part of the force. The old precinct house is built in the French Second Empire style, its mansard roof with iron cresting is still conspicuous above the relatively low-scale streetscape. The building now belongs to a local church.

      Here’s a link to a photo I took of it a while back: http://erickwashingtonimages.smugmug.com/Architecture/Architecture-built-environment/13342440_K49Rst#!i=969913852&k=8Wnz5Bb&lb=1&s=A

  14. Eric K. Washington Says:

  15. P. Gavan Says:

    This is great information — thank you so much. I’m currently working on a story about several officers who lost their lives when they were thrown from their horses or struck by vehicles while on horseback, and I’d like to share some of this information in my story. I will give you credit for providing this information, if you would like, and I will let you know when I post the story on my blog, http://www.frenchhatchingcat.com.

    I love to share animal tales that combine New York City history — when historians and others point me in the right direction regarding historical facts, I greatly appreciate it.

  16. P. Gavan Says:

    BTW, funny you should send me info about using dogs in mills — while working on a story about a Greenpoint cow, I came across this tidbit: A dog was used to power up a treadmill to saw wood at P. Kohlman’s spike factory in Greenpoint.
    Still trying to get more information on this factory, but it would be great to tie in with the article above.

  17. 1919 and 1922: Bulb, the Bad-Luck Police Horse of the NYPD | The French Hatching Cat Says:

    […] section of Central Park, and the hamlets of Manhattanville (west 120s, where the mayor resided) and Carmansville (west […]

  18. HOlly Cuzzne Says:

    Any pictures of the hotel in Carmasville between 252nd and 253rd St? On old maps it is sometimes called the Depot Hotel, Hudson River Hotel or the Riverside House.

  19. Alexandra Says:

    I have another document from the 1930’s that states that Holyrood Church was situated “just north of Carmansville.” This is an unpublished document that I happened to find while cleaning up the church. Let me know if you’re interested in seeing it, I can probably send a cell phone picture of the entire thing. I meanwhile will work on retyping it and putting it on my site soon. Thank you for providing this wealth of information about the history of NYC. I just eat this stuff up!

  20. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    I’d love to post it, and I’m sure readers will get a kick out of it! Carmansville is a popular topic here, as you can see.

  21. dizzy5 Says:

    The top postcard image is shown in reverse. The point of land in the background (viewed in a mirror) will show Jeffrey’s Point where the GWB will eventually stand.

  22. The Hatching Cat Says:

    Carmansville fans may enjoy this story from 1874: The Cattle That Charged the Church-Goers of Carmansville — feel free to share!


  23. Round Manhattan's Rim - Boroughs of the Dead Says:

    […] thought this was a particularly interesting passage, since there is some debate about where Carmanville actually was, and many historical sources place it on the west side of Manhattan (whereas of course the Harlem […]

  24. Round Manhattan’s Rim | Boroughs of the Dead Says:

    […] thought this was a particularly interesting passage, since there is some debate about where Carmanville actually was, and many historical sources place it on the west side of Manhattan (whereas of course the Harlem […]

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