Posts Tagged ‘The Cloisters’

The garogyles hanging out over 181st Street

April 16, 2012

The apartment building they’re carved into doesn’t appear to be anything special.

And thanks to what looks like decades of dirt and grime, these gargoyles are easy to miss.

But if you happen to be on 181st Street between Broadway and Fort Washington Avenue, look up and check out these goofy, expressive faces and figures.

They decorate two sides of the six-story residence, which looks like it dates to the 1930s.

Could they be inspired by the Cloisters, not too far away, with its treasure of Medieval gargoyles from Europe?

The Gothic castle that once stood in Inwood

May 31, 2011

No, not the Cloisters, the magnificent reconstructed abbey that dominates the neighborhood today.

We’re talking about Libby Castle, just about the most impressive mansion among all of the ostentatious 19th century estates built in this hilly stretch of Manhattan, kind of a rural retreat for the city’s superrich.

Originally named Woodcliff Castle in 1855 by its first owner, importer Augustus C. Richards, it passed through several bigwig owners in its short life span.

William “Boss” Tweed of Tammany Hall fame later lived there, as did department store millionaire A.T. Stewart, who bequeathed it to his business partner, William Libbey (yep, the castle’s name is a misspelling).

By 1920, Libby Castle and some land surrounding it were owned by John D. Rockefeller. He bulldozed it to build the Cloisters and Fort Tryon Park in the 1930s.

Myinwood.net has a terrific article and fab photos.

New York war hero: Margaret Corbin

May 24, 2009

It’s Memorial Day weekend—an appropriate time to remember Margaret Corbin, considered by some to be the first female American soldier and someone whose name shows up all over Northern Manhattan.

MargaretcorbinCorbin was the wife of a Virginia farmer who had enlisted in the Pennsylvania state artillery to fight for the colonists during the Revolutionary War. Rather than stay at home alone, she joined his company as a “camp follower,” as other wives were called, cooking and nursing wounded soldiers.

On November 16, 1776, their company was stationed at Fort Washington—where Fort Tryon Park is today—to help stave off a sneak attack launched by British and Hessian forces. After her husband was killed instantly while operating a canon, Margaret stepped into his place and began firing. Fortryonplaque

Though the four-hour battle ended with the enemy capturing Fort Washington, and she was severely wounded, Margaret supposedly proved to be one of the best gunners on the colonists’ side. 

She never fully recovered from her injuries and was eventually given $30 plus a lifetime disability pension.

Today, a plaque in Fort Tryon Park honors her bravery. And Northern Manhattan near The Cloisters is home to Margaret Corbin Drive and Margaret Corbin Circle.