Posts Tagged ‘Alexander Hamilton in New York City’

Hamilton Terrace is Harlem’s loveliest street

November 19, 2018

New York has no shortage of markers bearing Alexander Hamilton’s name: His grave is in Trinity Cemetery downtown, his statue graces Central Park, and Alexander Hamilton Bridge crosses the Harlem River.

But there’s a quiet stretch in Harlem from 141st to 144th Streets named for this founding father that feels almost like a secret passage lined with townhouse loveliness: Hamilton Terrace.

The street takes its name from Hamilton Grange, Hamilton’s former country house built in 1802 that currently sits atop a hill at West 141st Street.

(The house was actually built down the block on today’s West 143rd Street before being moved here in 1989, once part of Hamilton’s vast estate.)

Hamilton only occupied the Grange (“a sweet asylum from care and pain,” he called it) for a few years before his life ended in that infamous duel with Aaron Burr.

When urbanization came to the bucolic enclave of Harlem in the late 19th century, developers seized his name—and Hamilton Terrace was born.

“The initial construction on the north-south street—which most New Yorkers have never heard of, let alone seen—was for well-to-do owners,” wrote Christopher Gray in the New York Times in 2004.

“But Hamilton Terrace was transformed during the Depression by the expansion of the black population from central Harlem, and many of the new owners changed their buildings into rooming houses.”

Parts of Harlem don’t conform to the city street grid, and some of its streets feel like they were once isolated country lanes, like Convent Avenue on the West and St. Nicholas Avenue on the right, which surround Hamilton Terrace.

That gives the road its isolated, almost forgotten feel. The many row houses reflecting everything from traditional brownstone style to Romanesque to Gothic also make you think you’ve stumbled into some kind of turn of the century time warp.

“The isolation of Hamilton Terrace gives it a character distinctive from its surroundings,” wrote Gray. “Its 50 or so houses were almost all built in a single burst of activity, from 1895 to 1902.”

These days, Hamilton Terrace is a sought-after location once again. Now part of the Hamilton Heights Historic District, townhouses here are commanding hefty prices.

In 2017, Curbed pointed out that the corner mansion at 72 Hamilton Terrace, with a modern renovated interior, was going for more than $5 million.

[Fifth Image: New-York Tribune, 1899; sixth image: MCNY 2011.22.1336. All other images by Ephemeral New York]