Some mysterious names carved into tenements

I love that even the lowliest tenements typically have names. A developer would complete his building, then carve a word or two above the entrance—such as the name of the street or a popular politician—to distinguish it from the pack.


Some names are obvious, others more mysterious, such as this one in the East Village. The Claremount is a handsome building on East 12th Street. But why Claremount?

Claremont Avenue, named for an old New York family, is a short street in Morningside Heights, but I’m not aware of any connection between the Claremonts and the East Village. Perhaps it just sounded posh.


The Nonpareil is a tenement on Edgecombe Avenue on the Harlem/Washington Heights border. It translates into “having no match” or “unrivaled.” Quite a boastful name for such a humble building!


Minneola is reportedly a Native American word for “a pleasant place.” Hence this building, in the South Village. Or is it a misspelled homage to Mineola, Long Island?


Helen Court sounds like a soft, peaceful tenement. It’s in Harlem near 125th Street. Helen was a popular name about a century ago. Who was Helen—the developer’s wife or daughter?

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6 Responses to “Some mysterious names carved into tenements”

  1. The Day | Shooting Victim on Facebook: ‘I’m Dead’ - The Local East Village Blog - Says:

    […] The Claremont, Nonpareil, and Minneola: just some of the names carved into East Village tenements. [Jeremiah's Vanishing NY] […]

  2. Delancey Stewart Says:

    I once lived in the “Ironton” at 510 Amsterdam. A little research reveals that it’s owned by Ironton realty. Not as mysterious as I’d hoped!

  3. wildnewyork Says:

    You could always make up a good story to amuse visitors. One of my favorites is a walkup building in Queens called “Progress.” Who wouldn’t want to live in progress?

  4. bestestbrian Says:

    @Delancey Stewart: The company was most likely named after the building, and not v.v.

  5. doorman Says:

    At 124 St and Mount Morris Park West stands the “Sans Souci” Somebody was in a happy-go-lucky mood.

  6. bestestbrian Says:

    The Kaiser’s palace was a popular place when that building was built before WWI. It’s also just down the block from The Cambridge, The Oxford, and Olga. 🙂

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