Posts Tagged ‘Beekman Place’

A hidden city park named for a murdered activist

October 29, 2018

Walk to the far end of East 51st Street, past the bishop’s crook lamppost of lovely Beekman Place, and you’ll find yourself at a dead end blocked off by a cast iron fence.

The high, spectacular views of the East River are enchanting. But there’s more to this spot than immediately meets the eye.

To your left beside the Gothic-style entrance of a prewar apartment building, you’ll see the beginning of a stairway—then steep steps surrounded by brownstone. They’re like a portal to a mysterious part of Turtle Bay few know about or visit.

The steps take you to Peter Detmold Park, a quiet strip of gazebos, park benches, and a dog run beside the river, with trees partly shielding the FDR Drive.

The serenity of this hidden park stands in contrast to the tragedy that inspired its name.

Peter Detmold (below) was a World War II veteran who made his home in Turtle Bay Gardens, the beautifully restored brownstones spanning East 48th and East 49th Streets between Second and Third Avenues.

As president of the Turtle Bay Association, he led the fight in the 1960s and early 1970s to preserve the character of the neighborhood.

“When landowners began to rent out office space in residentially zoned areas, Detmold defended the rights of tenants and homeowners, protecting the quiet, neighborly spirit of the area, now a designated historic district,” states the NYC Parks website.

But Detmold’s time as a community activist was cut short.

On the night of January 6, 1972, after walking home from a Turtle Bay Association meeting with two colleagues, Detmold was murdered in the stairwell of his apartment building.

“According to police reports, the 48-year-old Detmold was stabbed as he entered his five-story walk-up building,” explained Pamela Hanlon in her book, Manhattan’s Turtle Bay: The Story of a Midtown Neighborhood.

“He struggled to reach his top-floor apartment, but collapsed on the stairwell, where a neighbor found him. He was pronounced dead on arrival at Bellevue Hospital.”

The park was named for Detmold later that year. Almost half a century later, his murder remains unsolved.

[Third photo: Getty]

The bishop’s crook lamppost on Beekman Place

April 30, 2018

The bishop’s crook isn’t the only old-school style New York lamppost. But it might be the most beloved.

Named for the fanciful staff bishops carried, cast-iron bishop’s crook lampposts first hit the streets around 1900, according to a Landmarks Preservation Commission report.

“Made from a single iron casting up to the arc, or ‘crook,’ it incorporates a garland motif that wraps around the shaft,” states The Landmarks of New York.

Because bishop’s crooks are so charming, the city began putting up reproductions of cast-iron originals in 1980.

But the one on the southeast corner of East 51st Street and Beekman Place is an authentic oldie.

Beekman Place is a quiet two-block stretch in Turtle Bay lined with townhouses and stately apartment buildings. The street features bishop crook reproductions, but this one is an original, according to the LPC report, The Landmarks of New York, and The New York Times.

Amid steel and aluminum modern lampposts this old New York streetlight and dozens of others through the city continue to illuminate dark corners.

This gas lamp at the end of West Village alley Patchin Place might be the oldest in New York.