Posts Tagged ‘Aaron Burr’

A Colonial-era relic outside an uptown mansion

May 13, 2013

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.

The sensational Manhattan well murder of 1799

May 15, 2010

It was a murder—and subsequent trial—that captivated the young city.

Levi Weeks, a carpenter and the brother of a renowned architect, was courting pretty, 21-year-old Gulielma Sands.

Nicknamed Elma, she lived in the same boarding house as Weeks did in Lispenard’s Meadows, a marshy area near Greenwich and Spring Streets.

On the night of December 22, Elma left her house. Supposedly she told her sister and a friend that she and Weeks were eloping.

She was never seen alive again. Two days later, her possessions—and her beaten body—were found at the bottom of a nearby well. Weeks was quickly indicted for her murder.

The evidence was circumstantial. A sleigh holding two men and a woman was seen by the well the night Elma disappeared; Elma’s sister said Weeks returned to the boarding house that night “pale and nervous.”

To defend himself, Weeks assembled the original dream team of lawyers, including Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. Even though most New Yorkers thought he was guilty, Burr and Hamilton got him acquitted.

Weeks left town fast and moved to Natchez, Mississippi. He became an architect and built many of the city’s loveliest homes.

Alexander Hamilton—or GQ model?

June 6, 2008

Mr. Hamilton is depicted as a swarthy dude in this Central Park statue; the banker, soldier, and Federalist just may be our hottest Founding Father. He left his mark all over New York and died in a house on Jane Street after his infamous duel with Aaron Burr across the Hudson in Weehawken. Ouch.

Hamilton is long gone, but his Harlem home, Hamilton Grange, survives. It’s being moved from Convent Avenue to St. Nicholas Park this week, where it will reopen in 2009.

Ephemeral update: The New York Times has this article detailing the move in today’s (6/7) paper.