Posts Tagged ‘Upper East Side neighborhoods’

An Upper East Side enclave called Hellgate Hill

June 4, 2012

Most New Yorkers know Hell Gate as the treacherous part of the East River south of Ward’s Island off Astoria and Manhattan’s East 90s.

Here, a confluence of rocks and rough currents once made it a graveyard of ships.

But Hellgate, spelled as one word, used to be a distinct neighborhood too, often called Hellgate Hill.

It was a tiny stretch between 94th and 96th Streets and Lexington and Third Avenues of lovely uniterrupted brownstones.

“The area was named after George Ehret’s Hell Gate Brewery, established in 1866 on East 92nd and 93rd streets between Second and Third avenues,” states a 2011 article in DNAinfo.

“The block was developed in 1878 by Michael Duffy, an alderman in the Tammany Hall era of graft who was indicted for bribery in 1886 but got off for being an informant.”

In 2010, 132 years later, community leaders proposed that Hellgate Hill be granted landmark status, giving this forgotten Upper East Side enclave more visibility.

[Top photo: Lexington and 94th Street in 1911, from the NYPL Digital Collection; bottom photo:]

The demise of the East Side’s Hamilton Square

July 21, 2010

Until 1869, amid the huge farms and estates that occupied today’s Upper East Side, a little neighborhood called Hamilton Square existed.

“On the old map of the city streets as laid out by the commission in 1807, from which came the present system of rectangular streets, an Alexander Hamilton Square was laid out on an extensive tract of city lands comprising the area bounded by Third and Fifth Avenues, 66th and 69th Streets,” a 1921 New York Times article explains.

There’s not a lot out there about Hamilton Square, so it’s hard to get a sense of what kind of neighborhood it was. An illustration of a church (below) exists, as do newspaper accounts of a proposed monument to George Washington in 1849.

Then, soon after Central Park opened in the 1859, it was wiped off the map, according to the Times piece:

“The western half, including the blocks west of Park Avenue with the Fifth Avenue frontage, was sold and the eastern portion was alloted by the city to various charitable and philanthropic institutions.”

These included Normal College (now Hunter College), the Seventh Regiment Armory, and Mt. Sinai Hospital.

Uptown, the city hosts another, newer Hamilton Square, at the junction of Hamilton Place, 143rd Street, and Amsterdam Avenue.

[Illustration from the NYPL digital collection]