Posts Tagged ‘New York Yankees’

Park Avenue South: three centuries, three views

June 21, 2012

In the photo below, taken in 1890, this stretch of Park Avenue South only had its name for two years. Before that, it was known as plain-old Fourth Avenue.

The intersection at 31st Street wasn’t exactly bustling. It featured a market, a laundry, and two very different hotels.

The opulent Park Avenue Hotel was built as a home for working women in 1876 (it failed thanks to its stringent rules). The low-key place next door is the Brandes, a holdout from a more rural city, explains New York Then and Now.

A lot happened in 84 years. Both hotels and the other small-fry businesses are gone, replaced by a canyon of 1920s-era office buildings and apartments (and a few saplings in giant planters in the median).

Today, Park Avenue South and 31st Street is pretty similar to its 1970s counterpart—minus the saplings.

Way in the distance in the center of the photo is the Park Avenue Tunnel, which sends cars underground at 33rd Street.

The tunnel used to carry railroad tracks, then streetcars—you can see them going in and coming out of the tunnel in the top photo.

[Top two photos: from New York Then and Now, Dover publications]

Before they were the Yankees

June 30, 2008

The team was called the Highlanders, named for the British army unit the Gordon Highlanders. The name also fit the location where they played: Hilltop Park on 168th and Broadway overlooking the Hudson River.

Unfortunately the American League Highlanders, who played their first game in 1903, didn’t win very often. And the more established New York Giants, playing for the National League nearby at the Polo Grounds, resented their existence. 

But the two teams eventually warmed up to each other, and by 1913, the Highlanders officially changed their name to the Yankees, a nickname fans and sportswriters had given the team. The Yankee era had begun.

It’s a shame Hilltop Park was abandoned because it sure offered a gorgeous view of the Hudson and the New Jersey Palisades, as seen in this photo. Since the 1920s the site has been occupied by Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center.

Columbia-Presbyterian hasn’t forgotten about its baseball roots; a plaque in a garden on hospital grounds marks the approximate spot where home plate was located.