Posts Tagged ‘Riverside Park’

Railcars and rain along the Hudson River

December 23, 2013

George Bellows‘ “Rain on the River,” from 1908, depicts the gray Hudson and its smoky railroad high above Riverside Park under a foreboding sky.


“His view from a rockly ledge above Riverside Park surveys a freight train making its way along the New York Central’s famous Water Level Route,” states the caption to this painting, which belongs to the Rhode Island School of Design museum.

“The string of railcars echoes the rushing diagonal that marks the near bank of the Hudson River. Aggressive brushstrokes indicate reflective surfaces that are animated by graphic observations: a lone pedestrian scurries acros a rain-slicked path, and a horse-drawn cart awaits a delivery of scavenged coal.”

The caption goes on to say that Bellows considered this one “one of my most beautiful things.”

Strolling through Riverside Park to Grant’s Tomb

April 24, 2013

A few solitary, turn-of-the-century New Yorkers took advantage of the quiet, lovely paths of the upper portion of Riverside Park in this vintage postcard.

Grant’s Tomb, opened to much fanfare in 1897, looms ahead.


The road beside the Hudson River looks more like the Henry Hudson Parkway, not Riverside Drive, no?

Up ahead, north of Grant’s Tomb, lies another little-known tomb of a child that still exists today.

Riverside Park’s tomb of the Amiable Child

December 9, 2009

Not far north of Grant’s Tomb, at the edge of some woods near 125th Street on Riverside Drive, lies another tomb that’s much more modest. 

It’s the tomb of the Amiable Child, a monument marking the grave of 5-year-old St. Claire Pollack. 

Little St. Claire lived on a vast estate here in the 1790s. In 1797, according to one account, the boy fell to his death from the cliffs overlooking the Hudson River. His body was recovered on the rocks below.

His family chose to bury him on the property where he lived. When the estate was sold, they asked that the monument be kept “always enclosed and sacred.”

Eventually the land was absorbed into the neighborhood known as Claremont; then it was the site of Riverside Park.

The original monument had to be replaced a few times, most recently in 1967, after falling victim to the elements. 

The back of the monument includes this from the Book of Job: “Man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. He cometh like a flower and is cut down he fleeth also as a shadow and continueth not.”

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.


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.

“Sailors and Floozies” in Riverside Park

January 7, 2009

In this 1938 painting, New York City native Paul Cadmus depicts sailors on shore leave—consorting with some disreputable babes beside the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Riverside Park at 89th Street, no less. It belongs to the Whitney Museum. 

“Some of these sailors are rather sympathetic, as well as one of the girls—the girl in the ridiculous hat,” Cadmus commented, according to background information provided by the Whitney. “I don’t know where I invented that hat, where it came from. No milliner that I knew.”


“Sailors and Floozies” was supposed to be exhibited in a San Francisco art show in 1940, but the Navy wanted it taken down. After the press made a fuss about it, the painting stayed in the show.

According to a 1940 Time article, Cadmus had this to say: “I  think the picture portrays an enjoyable side of Navy life. I think it would make a good recruiting poster.”

The architect who helped design New York

January 2, 2009

The Frick Museum, Grand Army Plaza, the Forbes building—these are just some of the iconic structures credited to gilded age architectural firm Carrere and Hastings.


 In 1911, just two months before the opening of the firm’s biggest gig yet—the New York Public Library Building on 42nd Street—architect John Mervin Carrere (pictured at left) was killed in a Manhattan taxi accident.

The day after his funeral, his body lay in state in the rotunda of the almost-finished library, a tribute to a man who helped create and shape the look of 20th century New York City.





In 1916, the city dedicated this commemorative staircase in Riverside Park at 99th Street to Carrere. It’s not in the best condition, and the plaque bearing his name is quite modest for someone whose aesthetic vision is stamped all over the city to this day.


A Hooverville in Central Park

October 8, 2008

Imagine strolling through Central Park and coming upon an encampment of shacks right out in the open, with furniture and stoves providing heat and comfort for dozens of residents.

This encampment actually existed in the early years of the Great Depression. Central Park’s Great Lawn served as a Hooverville of sorts for out-of-work, homeless New York men.

Public and official sentiment was on the side of the Hooverville residents. A New York Times article from September 22, 1932 states: “The raid was staged on the orders of Deputy Parks Commissioner John Hart, who explained that the Park Department, much as it regretted it, intended to raze the settlement this morning.

“‘We don’t want to do it, but we can’t help it,’ Mr. Hart said, adding that although the men had maintained good order, had built comfortable shacks and furnished them as commodiously as they could, there were no water or sanitary facilities near the settlement.”

There were other Hoovervilles in the city in the 1930s. One, “Camp Thomas Paine,” existed along the Hudson in Riverside Park, another, “Hardlucksville,” was at the end of 10th Street on the East River. Red Hook had its own Hooverville as well, off Columbia Street:

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.