But in the 1750s, with New York City concentrated far downtown, this was the center of a 29-acre hilltop estate known as Belmont or Inclenberg, the latter also lending its name to the surrounding area.
Aaccording to this account, Inclenberg was absolutely lovely.
“A magnificent place altogether was Inclenberg . . . approached by an avenue of magnolias, elms, spruce and Lombardy poplars . . . the spacious, two-story mansion had a broad veranda extending around three sides, and . . . front windows commanding a view of Kip’s Bay and the East River.”
It was the home of prosperous businessman Robert Murray and his wife, Mary Lindley Murray, who entertained the city’s elite there, including George Washington.
Legend has it that in 1776, Mary Lindley Murray—who, unlike her secret Loyalist husband, was a fierce supporter of American freedom—supposedly used tea, cake, and female charm to helped the Patriots escape the British army.
“When Gen. William Howe crossed the East River from Long Island in 1776, pursuing Washington’s troops and attacking New York City, Mrs. Murray and her daughters invited General Howe and his officers to tea,” states a 1999 New York Times article.
“They accepted and were detained long enough to allow Washington and his troops to escape.”
The Murrays died by the turn of the 19th century; their mansion burned down in 1835. The neighborhood and its once-formidable hill carry their name—while Inclenberg has been almost forgotten.
[Top image: Inclenberg, the mansion, from murrayhillnyc.org; second: the plaque, Wikipedia; third: Mrs. Murray’s tea, NYPL Digital Gallery; fourth: another sketch of the mansion, NYPL Digital Gallery]