Posts Tagged ‘hamilton heights’

The loveliest lamppost in New York is in Harlem

November 26, 2018

New York has lots of landmarked buildings. But a landmarked lamppost?

About 100 posts have this designation. One beauty exists at a small triangular park at West 143rd Street and Amsterdam Avenue, and it continues to light the way in the Hamilton Heights section of the neighborhood, with its late 19th century feel.

Placed here in the early 20th century, it’s a rare twin-mast lamppost, made of cast iron and an example of a “flaming arc” lamp that was once more common Lower Fifth Avenue,¬†according to a 1997 report by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

As enchanting as the twin design is, the post has another old-timey touch. Take a look at this insignia on the base of the post of a light bulb, or a “little globe of sunshine,” as one 1915 article about electric light dubbed it.

Thanks to David L. for pointing this out in a recent comment and inspiring me to see the lamppost for myself!

Sugar Hill: once Harlem’s most glamorous enclave

January 28, 2013

Harlem has lots of lovely, little-known streets and micro-neighborhoods. One of the grandest is Sugar Hill, an area rich with beautiful row houses, handsome apartment buildings, and a towering view of upper Manhattan.

846Stnicholasavehouses

Bounded roughly by 145th Street to the upper 150s and Edgecombe and Amsterdam Avenues, it was developed in the early 20th century for well-to-do white New Yorkers.

Sugarhillstnicholasave

But after a real-estate recession, the neighborhood soon become home to a black elite, a place synonymous with money and the sweet life.

409Edgecombeave“By the late 1920s, an area that had once been part of Washington Heights was gradually becoming Sugar Hill,” according to the Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance.

“This new upscale neighborhood would eventually become home to black celebrities such as Cab Calloway, Paul Robeson, and A’Lelia Walker and would have an influence on the Harlem Renaissance because the writers, musicians, athletes, civic and political leaders, and others who came to live on Sugar Hill sponsored and participated in talks, soirees, and literary gatherings there.”

SugarhilledgecombeaveviewA century later, the architectural treasures of Sugar Hill remain, like the neo-
renaissance houses in the top photo, built from 1896 and 1898 on St. Nicholas Avenue.

At 409 Edgecombe Avenue is a 1917 apartment residence (above). It’s the former home of W.E.B. DuBois and Thurgood Marshall. The view across Jackie Robinson Park is pretty incredible (right).

City College’s impressive old stadium

January 13, 2010

This 1920s postcard makes the City College campus in Harlem appear almost pastoral. Where are all the buildings?

Lewisohn Stadium had those magnificent Doric columns, a nice touch. Built in 1915 between Amsterdam and Convent Avenue and 136th and 138th Streets, it served as home field for CUNY’s sport teams and was also a concert venue featuring performers from George Gershwin to Pete Seeger.

It was demolished in 1973. There’s a big academic center on the site now, but the old campus buildings are still gorgeous and worth a subway ride to see them.

The most beautiful street in Harlem

May 15, 2008

Running alongside Amsterdam Avenue in Harlem is quiet Convent Avenue, easily one of the prettiest thoroughfares in Manhattan and my vote for one of the top five citywide (yeah, I’m talking to you South Portland Avenue and Montgomery Place in Brownstone Brooklyn).¬†

I think the southern end of the street, in the 130s and low 140s, is in the Hamilton Heights neighborhood. Once you cross over the 145th, it becomes Sugar Hill. Both parts are flanked by gorgeous row houses and churches. You’ll practically expect a hansom cab to trot by.