The brilliant future of Broadway at 179th Street

In 1910, not long before the production of this pretty postcard of Broadway above 179th Street, newspapers were singing the praises of Washington Heights and its “brilliant future.”


“The completed buildings and those in course of construction are of a far higher class than formerly built, and the advent of fireproof construction brings Washington Heights into direct competition with the downtown residential sections,” noted the New York Times in April of that year.

As for the proposed bridge at 179th Street (which would be completed in 1931), it “will be the means of bringing many residents from New Jersey to the upper part of Washington Heights to do their shopping…” the Times added.


Here’s the same view today. The 1960s-era George Washington Bridge Bus Terminal wiped out an entire block to the south of the 1915 view—helping to turn Washington Heights’ brilliant future into one of urban blight.

But otherwise, save for those early model devil wagons and the Papa Joes on the left corner, the intersection hasn’t really changed. However, those shoppers from New Jersey? I think they’ve long since stopped coming.

[Postcard: MCNY, 1915, x2011.34.2296; image: Google]

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5 Responses to “The brilliant future of Broadway at 179th Street”

  1. Benjamin Feldman Says:

    It woulda been kinda difficult to build the GW without demolishing the block…As ardent a preservationist as I am, I don’t regret that particular demolition….The Bridge is a thing of wonder and beauty, even double-decked, and has improved the lives of countless millions since it opened.

  2. Bob Dal Says:

    Washington Heights kind of stopped improving after WW2 and began a decline. Very little of note was built there until relatively recently. Really, NY Presbyterian hospital helped a lot over the years to keep some semblance of quality. My grandfather”s pharmacy was demolished to make room for the Cross Bronx after the added the second level to the GW Bridge.

  3. bai Says:

    I was a grad student at Columbia Presbyterian in the early 90s, and I lived in the neighborhood. Some of those old apartment buildings are truly beautiful inside. Being in a less well-known neighborhood, but with A and 1/9 subway service, they can be some of the best bargains in Manhattan rentals.

  4. Dave Cutler Says:

    Sources online suggest that there are more than 250k Dominicans living in NJ now–so I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more than a few coming into the old neighborhood to shop.

  5. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Good point. I was thinking more about shoppers from NJ when the Times article ran in 1915, decades before the neighborhood became a Dominican enclave.

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