Posts Tagged ‘Riverside Drive’

What remains of Manhattanville’s Claremont Inn

October 14, 2011

The “Claremont, New York” in this turn-of-the-century postcard looks like a Hudson River village, doesn’t it? But it’s actually the site of present-day Riverside Drive and 124th Street.

“Upon the high promontory overlooking the Hudson, on the south side of Manhattanville, is Jones’ Claremont Hotel,” states an 1866 Hudson River guidebook.

“[It’s] a fashionable place of resort for the pleasure-seekers who frequent the Bloomingdale and Kingsbridge roads on pleasant afternoons.”

Originally built as a country estate around 1780, it became a roadside tavern by 1860, a favorite of horsemen, cyclists, and drivers and frequented by wealthy families and celebs of the day, such as Admirable Dewey and Lillian Russell.

Battered by Prohibition and the Depression, the Claremont burned in a mysterious fire in 1951.

The city didn’t completely forget about this remnant of old Manhattanville; a plaque exists in Riverside Park (above), marking the spot where this Hudson River estate turned popular tavern entertained countless New Yorkers.

[Tablet photo from the New York City Parks Department]

Peaceful pink skies along Riverside Drive

March 22, 2010

This postcard, dated 1910, depicts then-new Riverside Drive just past Grant’s Tomb (also new, dedicated in 1897) at 122nd Street. 

Frederick Law Olmsted, who conceptualized Riverside Park and Drive, envisioned rocky outcroppings and winding curves that mimicked the Hudson Valley:

“From 1875 to 1910, architects and horticulturalists such as Calvert Vaux and Samuel Parsons laid out the stretch of park between 72nd and 125th Streets according to the English gardening ideal, creating the appearance that the Park was an extension of the Hudson River Valley,” according  to the Riverside Park Fund.

Riverside Drive’s Hendrik Hudson apartments

September 23, 2009

From a publication called The World’s New York Apartment House Album comes this sketch and description of a beautiful turn-of-the-century residential building, the Hendrik Hudson.

Spanning the entire block between Riverside Drive and Broadway at 110th Street, the Hendrik Hudson must have been a striking sight when it was completed in 1907. The facade was modeled after an Italian villa and the roof made from Spanish tile, topped by two imposing towers.

Hendrickhudson

As ambitious as the facade was, the 7- to 9-room apartments were also innovative, explains Andrew Alpern’s Luxury Apartment Houses of Manhattan:

“Walnut paneling, wood-beamed ceilings, mahogany doors with glass knobs, and the latest designs in porcelain bathroom fittings were all used to attract tenants,” writes Alpern. “Also offered was a billiard parlor, a cafe, a barber shop, and a ladies hairdressing salon—all for the exclusive use of the building’s occupants and guests. Rents ranged from $1500 t0 $3000 per year.”

As Morningside Heights became kind of sketchy in the post World War II years, so did the Hendrik Hudson; at some point, one of its towers disappeared. The building went co-op in 1970. It looks like an terrific place to live today.

A fine day for a stroll by the Hudson River

April 16, 2009

Riverside Park, enjoyable by foot or in a carriage on a sunny spring day. At the time this postcard was mailed in March 1908, the park was already 33 years old.

riversideparkpostcard

One thing you won’t see in this postcard that is usually visible from the water’s edge along the park: the George Washington Bridge. It would be another 19 years before ground would break for constructing the GWB.

Apartments for rent on Riverside Drive

September 8, 2008

Or “The Drive” as this turn-of-the-last-century newspaper ad calls it. Riverside Drive was designed in the 1870s by Frederick Law Olmstead to run alongside Riverside Park, another Olmstead project.

After the street and park opened, developers built beautiful townhouses and apartment houses, making Riverside Drive one of Manhattan’s most scenic streets . . . which it still is today.

And look at those rents: an 8-room apartment for $1600 a year. Seems small now, but a hundred years ago, that kind of money ensured that Riverside Drive would be within reach of only the wealthiest New Yorkers.

“Woman Murderer Sneers at Sentence”

June 11, 2008

Some New York crimes attract a ton of media attention from the start, becoming even more notorious as time goes on. Others grab headlines early, then quickly fade into the margins of history.

The latter seems to be the case with this 1934 murder. Katherine Phelan, 52, was convicted in the slaying of her employer, Douglas Sheridan, 65, of 800 Riverside Drive. The “Irish housekeeper” bludgeoned Sheridan with a hammer; blood was found on her stockings and eyeglasses.

Phelan saved the best for last though. When the judge sentenced her to 20 years to life on December 18, 1934, she replied, “Thanks for the Christmas present.” The Daily News has the details here.

The title of this post was taken from the headline of a New York Times story about Phelan’s conviction. The Times published a handful of articles covering the case; this is the final one.