Posts Tagged ‘Edgecombe Avenue’

What did the FA phone exchange stand for?

December 11, 2017

While enjoying the views along Edgecombe Avenue in Upper Manhattan, I spotted this rusted sign containing an old two-letter phone exchange, once ubiquitous in New York until they were phased out in the 1960s.

The FA exchange is a mystery. Gun Hill is a road in the Bronx, and the Gun Hill Fence Company, founded in 1959, still operates in the Bronx, now in a site on Boston Road.

Fordham is my best (but probably not accurate) guess. These old two-letter telephone exchanges are fun to find in hidden pockets of New York City.

The most elite apartment building in Harlem

May 15, 2013

Paulrobeson555EdgecombeavenueWhen the stately Beaux-Arts apartment building at 555 Edgecombe Avenue opened in 1916, it rented to white tenants only.

But the population of Harlem was already changing, from mostly Irish and Jewish residents to African-Americans.

By the 1940s, the building, located on 160th Street at the edge of the posh Sugar Hill neighborhood, was exclusively black.

Sitting high on a bluff and commanding gorgeous views of the treetops of Edgecombe Avenue and across the Harlem River, these 13 floors plus a penthouse were home to Harlem’s elite.

JoelouisThat included academics, entertainers, and athletes such as Count Basie, Joe Louis (below), Sonny Rollins, sociologist Kenneth Clark, and Paul Robeson (above).

And though today it’s officially within the borders of Washington Heights, 555 Edgecombe is historically identified as part of Harlem.

It’s not an especially distinctive building architecturally, but it is handsome and sturdy, an emblem of the neighborhood’s prime years as a center of artistic and activist achievement.

[Photo right: Property Shark]

The mysterious staircase near 158th Street

October 4, 2010

At the tail end of Highbridge Park, at about 158th Street and Edgecombe Avenue in Harlem, lies a decrepit staircase.┬áIt’s in bad shape, fenced off from pedestrians.

So where did it lead to? It’s the last remnant of the Polo Grounds, home to the New York Giants baseball team from 1890 until 1957, when they departed for San Francisco.

The staircase took fans down to the stadium, which was built against a cliff here called Coogan’s Bluff.

You can still read the plaque on one the landings: “The John T. Brush Stairway Presented By the New York Giants.”

John T. Brush was the Giants’ owner who rebuilt the Polo Grounds after a fire in 1911. The team dedicated the then-new staircase to him in 1913, who had died a year earlier.