A Colonial-era relic outside an uptown mansion

MorrisjumelmansionThe Morris-Jumel Mansion (right), on 160th Street east of St. Nicholas Avenue, is a lovely time capsule of the 18th century city.

Built in the 1760s by British colonel Roger Morris as a breezy hilltop retreat called Mount Morris, it was used as a headquarters by George Washington during the Revolution. (Yep, Washington really did sleep here!)

MorrisjumelmilemarkerIn 1810, wealthy couple Stephen and Eliza Jumel turned it into a French-inspired country home, where they entertained prominent residents of the young city.

After her husband died, social-climbing Eliza’s new spouse, Aaron Burr, moved in—a fascinating story for another post.

Anyway, two hundred years later, the Georgian-Federal style mansion is a museum. But perhaps the most interesting relic is a slab of stone on the grounds outside the house.

It’s a mile marker. Before GPS, maps, and even a city street grid, mile markers were set in the ground on roads outside the city. They let travelers know how far they were from today’s downtown.

MorrisjumelmilemarkercloseupThis mile marker says we’re 11 miles north, not a short distance back in the day.

An accompanying plaque explains that the mile marker was originally placed in 1769 on Kingsbridge Road, which ran along Broadway, according to Myinwood.net.

Mile markers have been disappearing for generations. Apparently a nine-mile marker remained in Upper Manhattan until as recently as 1991.

As far as I know, there’s only one other mile marker left in the ground: this beauty on Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn. I hope it’s still there.

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7 Responses to “A Colonial-era relic outside an uptown mansion”

  1. Manhattan Past (@ManhattanPast) Says:

    This marker would have stood originally on or near property owned by Stephen Jumel, who had a plot on the east side of the Kingsbridge Road between about 166th and 175th and a plot on the west side between about 172nd and 175th.

    As the sign notes, the mile marker was moved in 1819, probably as a result of John Randel’s thorough survey of the island begun in 1818, which corrected many earlier maps and surveys. http://www.mcny.org/sidebars/randel-farm-maps-online.html

  2. petey Says:

    who are “The City History Club”?

  3. punto Says:

    There is still a King’s Bridge (Albany Post) Road mile marker set into the stone wall on the west side of Broadway a few feet north of the 207th Street A train exit. For more information, see: http://myinwood.net/old-post-road/

  4. Edward Says:

    There’s also a mile marker in its original location in the village of Richmond on Staten Island, which served as the county seat from colonial times until the 1920s when it moved to St. George. It says “6 Miles to N York F” which means it was six miles to the New York (Manhattan) ferry landing at the foot of modern day Vanderbilt Ave in Clifton. Luckily, Richmond Town is now a beautiful historic village and they wisely left the mile marker alone.

    6 Miles

  5. Joe Says:

    Was going to mention the 12-mile marker at Isham Park. There’s also several markers still standing in Westchester County. I came across the 48-mile marker in downtown Peekskill a few years ago. The DAR restored that marker back in 1908 but then unfathomably bolted a plaque right onto the center of it!

  6. Alex Bitman Says:

    It`s sad to see all these cities disappear…

  7. The rich widow haunting an uptown mansion | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] you visit the lovely Morris-Jumel Mansion in Washington Heights and see a mysterious red-haired beauty, don’t be […]

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