Posts Tagged ‘Dutch Hill’

Gentrification comes to the east side’s Dutch Hill

March 11, 2013

Mid-19th century Manhattan was dotted by lots of small villages. But few were as poor and wretched as Dutch Hill, centered around 42nd Street near the East River.

“Shantytown, this was called, a dismal collection of shacks and hovels inhabited by day-laborers, their families, and their pigs,” wrote Lloyd Morris in Incredible New York.


Adds Kenneth Jackson in The Encyclopedia of New York City: “Like most squatter settlements of the time, it was situated north of the built-up area of the city. The inhabitants were predominantly German and Irish immigrants. Many worked at the nearby Voorhis and Mott quarries.”

But it wouldn’t exist much longer. The city was moving north, and genteel residents—like the couple and little boy strolling up Second Avenue in this 1861 illustration—were moving to this area of scattered home and rock piles.

“By the end of the Civil War the growth and northward movement of population made real estate in the area valuable, and the squatters were displaced,” writes Jackson.

The criminal “roosts” of 19th century Manhattan

October 2, 2010

Where Tudor City is now, overlooking the bluffs of the East River, was once a squalid, lawless neighborhood called Dutch Hill.

That was the home base for Corcoran’s Roost—the headquarters of a fierce gang of thieves led in the mid-1800s by Irish immigrant and notorious thug Jimmy Corcoran.

That wasn’t the only roost in 19th century New York. Another was Bandit’s Roost, a grubby alley at 591/2 Mulberry Street.

Journalist and social reformer Jacob Riis took this photo of a group of men hanging out in Bandit’s Roost. They’re a menacing-looking lot.

Bandit’s Roost must have been bad. Responding to a 1911 article about a notorious Paris slum, a New York Times letter writer states, “The nearest approach in this city to that foul quarter in Paris was the Bandit’s Roost, near the Five Points, and that was wiped out nearly 20 years ago.”

From filthy slum to Tudor City

August 18, 2008

Nineteenth century New York had plenty of poor neighborhoods. But one of the worst was Dutch Hill, a shantytown of squatters and rag-pickers near 42nd and Second Avenue. This undated illustration gives the general idea:


In the 1870s the city razed the shacks and constructed tenements and brownstones. The housing improved, but it was still a poverty-stricken, predominantly Irish area ruled by gangs and composed of unpleasant industries like tanneries, breweries, and slaughterhouses. And the Second Avenue elevated train roared ahead all day and night.

But not for long. In the mid-20s the huge Tudor City complex was built on the site. A dozen apartment houses with more than 3,000 residences, plus shops, a hotel, and landscaped parks sprang up, all in the English tudor style popular in the 1920s. Tudor City was kind of a suburb within the city, and today, it’s a pretty, tranquil, non-trendy enclave.

There’s a good reason the apartments feature very few window facing East. Developers didn’t want prospective residents turned off by the nasty sight and smell of the factories along the East River that still existed when Tudor City was completed.

For more information on Dutch Hill and Tudor City, click here.