Posts Tagged ‘Chelsea’

Manhattan’s lost village of Harsenville

August 22, 2009

Some of New York’s old village names survive today: think Chelsea, Yorkville, New Utrecht, and Gravesend. Others get unceremoniously wiped off the map, with not even a train station bearing the old name. 

That’s what happened to Harsenville. In the late 1700 and 1800s, this little hamlet spanned 68th Street to 81st Street between Central Park West and the Hudson River. It got its name from Jacob Harsen, a farmer who settled there in 1763.

This is his house below, at today’s Tenth Avenue and 70th Street, in an 1888 New-York Historical Society photograph.


Other farm families followed, and soon, a real town formed. Harsenville Road went through what is now Central Park; schools, churches, and shops opened.

By 1911, however, Harsenville was kaput, reports a 1911 New York Times piece on old-timers reminiscing about their ‘hood. The blocks of brand-new brownstones and apartment houses were soon to be known collectively as the Upper West Side.

Interestingly, one new condo building on West 72nd Street capitalizes on the Upper West Side’s small-town history: The developers named it Harsen House.

Horses and wagons available in Chelsea

September 17, 2008

Now this is some old-school signage, near 17th Street and Sixth Avenue. It’s tough to make out, but it looks like “Victoria’s Light Wagons” and “Horses Taken in Board by the Month.”

This old livery stable ad is on its last legs, a faded reminder of when New York City depended on horses for industry and transportation.

Time traveling in Chelsea

August 23, 2008

If you could transport yourself to the corner of Eighth Avenue and 23rd Street in 1933, this is what you’d see. That’s the Grand Opera House, opened in 1868. Eventually the opera house began hosting vaudeville acts and showing movies until its demise in a fire in 1960.

When this photo was taken, Wallace Beery was starring in “Chinatown Nights,” and a night at the Cornish Arms Hotel costs a buck fifty!

Here’s the same corner today, with an unspectacular (okay, ugly) 1960s building taking the place of the gorgeous opera house.

The Cornish Arms Hotel is now the Broadmoor, an apartment building, and the Penn Station South Houses stretch up the block. These high-rises were built in the early 1960s by the International Ladies Garment Workers Union as affordable housing for union members.

Who watches over you in Chelsea?

August 6, 2008

These two do:

And so does this guy, with the wonderfully cool helmet:

And this mystery woman, looking all goddess-like:

London Terrace: Truth in advertising?

August 1, 2008

Can you really sit on the roof of Chelsea’s London Terrace and wave to passing ships? I doubt it, but this 1936 ad sure demonstrates otherwise. I bet it is nice and cool up there.

Occupying Ninth to Tenth Avenues along 23rd to 24th Streets, London Terrace—a series of connected apartment buildings based around a central garden—was built in 1930, taking the place of an older London Terrace designed in 1845. Those Greek Revival townhouses were dubbed “Millionaires’ Row.”

Fun fact: When the second London Terrace opened, they had doormen dressed as English bobbies manning the front desks.

The wrought-iron angels of Ninth Avenue

July 16, 2008

On Chelsea’s grimy 24th Street, a block flanked by the usual bodegas and ethnic restaurants, a nondescript brick tenement walkup happens to have the most lovely decorative balconies. Who took the time to create these angels, and why here?

There’s so much beauty all around us in this city. Keep your eyes peeled and you’ll find it.

The pineapples of New York City

June 11, 2008

Pineapples have been symbols of hospitality for centuries; no wonder they adorn so many of the doors, railings, and fences of the city’s oldest neighborhoods.

This one is attached to a circa-1800s house on 16th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues in Chelsea.

A scorching hot cup of coffee

May 1, 2008

I think more diners should be encouraged to put coffee cup icons in their signs. Like this one on Eighth Avenue for La Taza de Oro, which serves up Hispanic home-cooking.

This next sign is for a tiny joint in the Flatiron District. Wavy lines = hotness.


You’d have to be vigilant to stay here

April 25, 2008

No awning, neon letters, or front desk—just a tiny black and white sign welcoming you to the Vigilant Hotel, at Eighth Avenue and 29th Street. It’s been around in some form or another since at least 1907. With luxe hotels popping up all over the city, it’s nice to see a joint like this can still pay the rent in the neighborhood. 

“Tweezers, nippers, manicure sets”

April 23, 2008

As advertised by the Griffon Cutlery Works, 19th Street and 7th Avenue. This sign looks like it dates from the 1930s or 1940s.