Upper Broadway above 150th Street is home to many lovely apartment residences, mostly built in the early 1900s.
That’s when the neighborhood where James Audubon’s farm, Minniesland, stood in the 19th century was transformed by real estate speculators into up-and-coming Washington Heights.
One hidden gem with a curved facade is the six-story apartment building at West 156th and Broadway.
Named Hispania Hall (perhaps a nod to the Hispanic Society of America museum, which opened a block away in 1908), it was billed as “artistic, comfortable, and substantially built” when it was completed in 1909.
It also contains an unusual symbol: a cast-iron fence that’s topped with a Star of David. Why a Star of David? It was likely added in or after the 1930s.
“In the 1930s, many German and Jewish refugees found a new home in the neighborhood,” states the website for the Audubon Park Historic District.
“Within a few block of this corner were ten Jewish institutions, including the Prospect Unity Club, Lublo’s Palm Garden, and several synagogues.”
Today it’s an easy-to-miss reminder of the neighborhood’s ethnic makeup decades ago.
[Top image: NYPL Digital Gallery]