Posts Tagged ‘Bloomingdale’

West 72nd Street before the Dakota

October 22, 2010

It was one of the first apartment houses in the city, a Gothic, Victorian, French Renaissance–inspired mix of lovely gables, dormers, railings, and moldings.

And if you were lucky enough to be able to afford a flat in the Dakota around 1884, the year the building opened, here’s what the view outside your window would have be like.

This 1890 photograph, published in New York: An Illustrated History, looks south from Central Park West and 72nd Street.

It’s an amazing contrast: the Dakota, an example of Gilded Age opulence, vs. the shacks and shanties of the surrounding blocks.

It wouldn’t look this way for much longer. The Upper West Side was fast transitioning from a collection of villages such as Harsenville and Bloomingdale into a neighborhood of brownstones and apartment houses.

Columbia University’s lunatic past

May 5, 2008

They didn’t used to call Morningside Heights “Asylum Hill” for nothing. Before Columbia built its campus on Broadway and 116th Street, the grounds were occupied by the Bloomingdale Lunatic Asylum. Buell Hall, below, is the only campus building that was originally part of the asylum.

Opened in 1808, the asylum was named for Bloomingdale Road, the old name for this stretch of Broadway. Until the late 1800s, the neighborhood was bucolic and sylvan, and through the years the asylum became somewhat of a tourist attraction. In 1893, it relocated to Westchester, and Columbia, then on Madison Avenue in the 50s, took over, building the campus as we know it today.

Look closely; I love the family of deer hanging out on the asylum grounds.