Wednesday, November 23, 2016

MANHATTAN - Gone, gone, gone....Vanished New York, Part IV

Another "unidentified" pic from the Robert L. Bracklow Photo Collection.  This one was easier than I thought it would be.  I noticed the 54 on one of the doors.  Scanning the Sanborn map of 1897 for all "54" addresses, I got lucky after about fifteen minutes and found 54 Downing, which just happened to be a 2 1/2 story brick house with basement, 56 being the same, and a little yard in front (in pic behind picket fence).
This photo of 50, 52, 54 and 56 Downing Street I found randomly and unsourced.  It is supposedly from 1916.


Sanborn map, 1897
I then searched for "Downing" at the Museum of the City of New York's website and found the following photo.

The house, in its "before" shot, is looking even worse for the wear by the time.
The print at the bottom of the "after" renovation photo reads "'Pepe Idea' of Re.... Historic Houses, this was owned and occupied by...
AARON BURR*.  Collins, NY, June 1925.

So where is this possibly (I haven't substantiated this yet) historic house now?

Sometime in between 1930 and 1950, it was torn down to make room for a garage.  It appears that in 2009, the garage was either torn down or renovated, the new front becoming 214 Houston Street.

*Aaron Burr, third Vice President of the United States and the man who killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel.

Would he approve of what's been done with the place? Who knows.  I'm not his ghost's biographer.  

Here are some cool facts that I do know.

  1. Burr was the second husband of Eliza Jumel, of haunted Morris Jumel Mansion fame.
  2. Aaron Burr is said to haunt his old neighborhood--click on links--(Richmond Hill), the West Village, 106 West 3rd Street**, once the site of Cafe Bizarre, a nightclub investigated in the 1960s by parapsychologist Hans Holzer, 17 Barrow Street, now a restaurant called One  if by Land, Two if by Sea.***
** Said to be the remodeled stable of Richmond Hill.

*** Said to be Aaron Burr's carriage house.  I suppose Burr lived in several places.  I do know that he purchased Richmond Hill in 1794.

Oh, and speaking of Alexander Hamilton, he once haunted 27 Jane Street (where he was last treated by John Francis, his doctor, before dying) and 80-82 Jane Street (the home of a friend, William Bayard Jr., where he died), but these houses were also torn down a long time ago.  Perhaps it hasn't stopped his ghost from visiting.

Monday, November 21, 2016

MANHATTAN - Gone, gone, gone....Vanished New York, Part III

The New-York Historical Society Museum & Library's website, where this image was originally found, lists this image as having been taken at the corner of 8th Avenue (Central Park West) and 92nd Street.  A quick newspaper search showed me that this is the Heiser Mansion, since about 1880 used as a house for the Children's Fold (a charitable organization).  An 1897 map shows the house being used as a Rugby Academy.  By 1902, it was built over. 


This portion of a map from 1815 shows a house on the same site on what was then the Estate of Edward Millar.  Interestingly, there is another house across the street, in what is now Central Park.  An 1867 map lists the land under the name Miller, an 1887 map says Muller.  Who was this man, and was this his or his descendant's house?
This is an easy one.  The Brett Lithographing Company (background) was located at 49 Rose Street.  In the foreground we have, on the left, L. Roth glazier.  To the right of the door is a sign reading "Horses Taken to Board 266 1/2 William Street."  So, William Street is close by (actually, Rose Street was next to William Street).  Phil. Betz, sign painter is listed as having been at 232 William Street in the Goulding Business Directory of New York.  Very vaguely, a sign hanging by the door to the building on the left says "236."  So, to the left is 236 William Street, and to the right is 232.
A house identified by the New-York Historical Society Museum & Library's website as being on the corner or Broadway and 75th Street.  A little research shows that this could only be the house once situated at 235 West 75th Street, where the Astor Apartments are now located.  This photo was taken in 1896, a time of scandal for its inhabitants.
I'm a researcher, not a great writer.  This excerpt is from Upper West Side Story; A History and Guide, by Peter Salwen

The Astor's website says the following:

With the creation of Central Park in 1850, the Upper West Side’s Dutch farms were quickly sold off parcel by parcel. In 1857, New York State Senator William Kelly purchased the land now occupied by The Astor and built a single-family home there. The Kelly family lived in the home until just before 1901, the dawn of the great New York building boom, when William Waldorf Astor acquired the property, demolished the Kelly house, and began construction on The Astor, originally dubbed The Astor Apartments.
I'm no expert, but I think it is possible that they got their history wrong.  The 1867 M. Dripps Plan of New York City map shows a house on the NW corner of Broadway and 75th Street (below):

HOWEVER, that L-shaped structure is gone by 1885, according to the 1885 E. Robinson Atlas of the city of New York (below, the pictured house is circled, the lots to its right were occupied by the L-shaped house):

Henry H. Bliss, 1873
courtesy Wikipedia
William Kelly "retired to a splendid farm and country seat near Rhinebeck, on the Hudson [many years ago]" according to his obituary in The New York Herald, January 16, 1872, page 7.  Maybe the hoity toity people at the Astor Apartments want to believe their story because it carries more cashet than the true story about the man involved in a poisoning murder scandal, who just happened to be the first man killed by an automobile.  If what I think I found is true, I like my story better.  

MANHATTAN - Gone, gone, gone....Vanished New York, Part II

One of the easier ones, thanks to the apartment names on the buildings.  A newspaper search showed me that the [Bryn] Mawr Apartments were located at 420 West 121st Street and the Marquette Apartments were at 417-421 West 120th Street.  That puts this little house on the NE corner of Amsterdam Avenue and 120th Street.  This picture was taken before 1914, at which time the Edmund Francis Court was erected in that spot. according to


Atlas of the city of New York, by G. W. Bromley (1911)
The little house is the yellow item by the blue pencil mark.
It doesn't appear on the 1891 map.

According to this website, Lakow's Desks was located at 116 Pearl Street until 1920.  Samuel Lakow came to the United States in 1886.  This picture looks to be from the 1890s.  116 Pearl Street is located on Hanover Square.  This area is in the Financial District.

I believe the New-York Historical Society Library & Museum website gives a Broadway address between 79th and 80th Streets for this picture.  It's actually 405 Broadway (the N. P. Tyson house).

Western Boulevard is an old name for this part of B'way.

MANHATTAN - Gone, gone, gone....Vanished New York Part I

Charles (Carl) B. Harfst's Oyster & Chop House was at 205 Hudson Street according to The Proceedings of the Council of the Municipal Assembly of the City of New York from April 2 to April 30, 1901, Volume I, Part I, Page 1074 and the Trow Manhattan and Bronx Borough Directories for 1910.  If you click to enlarge the picture, you can see a "196" address on the building to the far left and a "213 Hudson" address on the building  on the corner where the road bends at the right.  Click here for a Google Maps street view from 2014.

After researching for my last post (click here), I became curious to learn more about Robert L. Bracklow.  There is a nice blog entry about him on the New-York Historical Society Museum & Library's website.  The images in this post are from the aforementioned's digital collections.  All of the places in this post are either marked as unidentified on their website or have very little written about them.  

Meyer's Pharmacy is 533 West 28th Street.  There are so many clues in this one.  An old sign on the Meyer's building, Oscar G. Hickstein at 533, SOVEREIGN, Geo. T. Funk Printing at 531, 527 F. J. Scheper Bowling Alleys and finally M. Groh's Sons also at 527.  It was through M. Groh's Sons that I was able to figure this one out.  In the Real Estate Record and Builder's Guide, Volume 74 (1904), there is an entry on page 1390 showing that J. McGovern gave the mortgage and M. Groh's Sons renewed the mortgage at 527 West 28th Street.  Click here for a Google Maps street view from 2014.
The location of this unidentified mansion is no mystery.  The front of the West Park Presbyterian Church is right behind it, putting this mansion on the NW corner of Amsterdam Avenue and 86th Street.  Photo taken October 26, 1890.

The house shows up in the 1885 Atlas of the city of New York by E. Robinson right under the numerals 1128 and the the right of the "h" in John Adams (see left), but by 1891 there is no sign of it on the Atlas of the city of New York, Manhattan Island, by G. W. Bromley (below).

It's possible that the house was built by Samuel Stillwell, as it is on land that he owned and near an old road bearing his name.  

According to information on Ancestry a Samuel Stillwell was born October 9, 1763 in Jamaica, Long Island. According to The New York State Reporter, Volume 28 (1890), prior to 1795, Samuel Stillwell "owned a tract of land that is now substantially encompassed by Eighth and Eleventh avenues and Eighty-fourth and Eighty-ninth streets."

It's possible that this land is part of the old Joseph Orchard farm, which Stillwell acquired in 1791.    

MANHATTAN - 111th Street and Riverside Drive _pde_0514

111th Street and Riverside Drive, 1909
Robert L. Bracklow, photographer