NYC – An unlikely place for two civil war era houses

In previous blogs I have mentioned, when on a walk, how enjoyable it is to find something unexpected along the way. Here is the latest.

Today’s event happened while walking up East 58th Street between 1st and 2nd avenues, a street full of traffic speeding towards the Queensboro Bridge.

There they were, two freestanding houses, and very unusual to see one-or-two-story homes in Manhattan that have survived since the Civil War.

but this pair of surviving ones =two stories high with a basement and constructed of brick with stone trim. The pair were built in an Italianate style in the late 1850s and must have been among the first buildings on East 58th. Both are brick with stone trim and have basements; only #313 has retained a porch.

But each reflects design styles popular in the 1840s and 1850s: huge windows, French doors, pilasters, shutters, small front lawns, and a (charmingly crooked) front porch.

Most of known information is about #313. The history of the property goes back to 1676. It may have been a Tavern called the “The Union Flag”.

tis amazing that these two buildings were saved during the construction of he bridge just a block away. In the 18th century the area near the East River around what would become 58th Street was lonely. 

Travelers using the Eastern Post Road could stop at the inn called The Union Flag (the name of which referred, of course, to the British colors, not the later American union).  The tavern sat approximately at the Queensboro Bridge approach.

Today #311 is home to antiques store Phillip Colleck, Ltd., while #313 at last check was home to painter John Ransom Phillips after a stint as the Czech Pavilion Restaurant., number 311 is occupied by an English antique furniture business (the business bought the house for $1.1 million in 1999).

For several decades the building was used as the offices of the NYC Humane Society

I guess we should think of them as examples of the “modest, semi-suburban houses which dotted the uptown side streets of mid–19th century New York,”

The following is not to depress you but to show how bad these two older buildings fell into disrepair Thankfully, someone along the way cared!

An interesting side note is that in 1899 the original owner patented an invention far afield from the building business.  His “reversible tie” was described as having “sides of different color or material.”  For the price of one tie, the customer would get two.

One more look at how nice they look now

England only steps away

Did you know that you can  stand in England and not cross the ocean or you might  take the MTA and get off on English soil?

It may come as a surprise that parts of New York City are from the United Kingdom and if you walk way down Manhattan’s East 25th Street you’ll find yourself standing on English soil.

 

No, not something created by treaty like an embassy or consulate, but rather, actual English land, brought to the Port of New York during s some of the darkest days of World War II. Given the city’s colonial origins, cross-Atlantic trade, and World War II alliance, it begins to make more sense. 

 

This small outcropping of land near East 25th as well as a small stretch of the FDR Drive, was made out of landfill from the English city of Bristol – during WWII.

 

U.S. and Canadian merchant marine vessels steamed across the Atlantic to keep the British supplied against Nazi Germany’s assault. These ships were loaded with weapons when they set out on their journey, risking U-boat and air attack. When they arrived, the supply ships delivered so much cargo, with nothing to bring back, that they needed ballast to stabilize them for the return journey.

The men and women of Bristol, many of whose homes had been utterly destroyed by the Luftwaffe’s air assault, loaded these ships with the rubble of their city. Acting as ballast, these literal chunks of England returned to the U.S., where merchant marine vessels offloaded them into the East River and picked up fresh cargo to return to Europe.

The resulting landfill created the area known as Bristol Basin, quite literally built from part of England.

I found this short  video 

 

In 1942, the English-Speaking Union of the United States erected a plaque commemorating Bristol’s unique contribution to New York City.

Nearby, the British International School houses its River View Campus in Waterside Plaza’s Building 20.  The plaque itself has moved around over the years, and now overlooks a portion of the East River with spectacular views of Queens and Brooklyn.

The plaque reads: “Beneath this East River Drive of the City of New York lie stones, bricks and rubble from the bombed City of Bristol in England. Brought here in ballast from overseas, these fragments that once were homes shall testify while men love freedom to the resolution and fortitude of the people of Britain. They saw their homes struck down without warning. It was not their walls but their valor that kept them free. And broad-based under all is planted England’s oaken-hearted mood, as rich in fortitude as e’er went worldward from the island wall.”

The plaque was was rededicated in 1972 by the actor Cary Grant, a Bristol native whose family survived the bombings.

Know Before You Go

Follow E 25th Street as far east as it goes; crossing a footbridge, one arrives at Waterside Plaza. Stairs lead you to the central public plaza, where on the northeast side there is a plaque dedicated to the English city of Bristol that supplied the land on which Waterside Plaza is built.

Unless you have a personal interest in Bristol history, or you would be walking/bicycling along the East River, I would suggest that you let this article be your virtual visit.

NYC – Beer Baron who owned the Yankees

NYC – Beer _ Baseball _ Colonel J. Ruppert _ Yankees

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Walking  down east 92nd street from 3rd Avenue to York Avenue,  I came upon a sign for a beer that I had not heard of in years – Knickerbocker. It reminded me that this area of Yorkville once had several breweries, one of which was familiar to me – Ruppert’s  Knickerbocker Brewery. Later, when I researched the 58195_georgeehretshellgatebrewery_0area I found another  brewery, one  I had had never heard of called the Hell Gate Brewery. It was once the largest brewery in the United States and named for a section of the nearby East River.

When the breweries were operating, this area was known for its “streets that smelled like beer”. Today, the area+ is now comprised of a few apartment buildings, parking garages, a small park, a pet store, a Chase bank, and a grocery store.

I probably could do a complete story on the History of Yorkville but I will only focus upon the owner of the Ruppert Brewery – Colonel Jacob Ruppert.

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Jacob Ruppert

Colonel “Jake” Ruppert while having a popular beer company also was known as the owner of a major league baseball team The New York Yankees.

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1936 Logo

So, let’s go back to walking down East 92nd Street.  To my surprise, I found, in a parking garage, a series of large color photos of the Ruppert brewery and the Yankees.

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Also, Colonel Ruppert himself in the twilight of his glory days, pictured with Babe Ruth.

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Here are some of the pictures hanging with the garage/

It’s enough to give me hope that the story of the old New York beer and baseball is not totally dead but kept in small out of way places throughout our country.

Some added notes

  • Often overlooked was that Lou Gehrig and Joe Dimaggio played during Ruppert’s ownership.
  • Made by the Ruppert Brewery, Knickerbocker was the official beer of the New York Giants knick-giants-coaster(Baseball not football), a bit ironic given that Jacob Ruppert, was the owner of the New York Yankees during the heyday of Ruth and Gehrig. He attempted to purchase theNew York Giants on numerous occasions.
  • While he was the owner of the Yankees, he built Yankee Stadium. It would be the first ballpark to be referred to as a stadium.
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    Yankee Stadium (old)
  • Ruppert was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in July 2013.
  • In 1912 he was offered an opportunity to purchase the Chicago Cubs, but decided that Chicago was too far away from New York.
  • In 1929, Ruppert added numbers to the Yankees’ uniforms, which became a feature of every team. He said, “Many fans do not attend games on a regular basis and cannot easily pick out the players they have come to see.”
  • A dubious story says that he is responsible for the Yankees’ famous pinstriped uniforms; according to this account, Ruppert chose pinstripes in order to make the often-portly Ruth appear less obese. In actuality the Boston Red Sox first sported pinstripes for their road uniforms in 1907, five years before the Yankees.

Extra Trivia

The 92nd street area was also a significant but scattered Irish population that included James Cagney who grew up on East 96th Street.

Colonel Jacob Ruppert lived in New York City and had homes in Garrison (Eagles Nest) and Rhinebeck (Linwood) New York. He was a frequent customer at Foster’s Tavern in Rhinebeck NY.

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NYC – Fire Hydrants

I know you have been wondering about how many fire hydrants there are in Manhattan?
There are usually 3 fire hydrants on every street block and six fire hydrants on each Avenue [150 blocks]  each block being composed of (about) 10 parts, from river to river. My guess: at least 16,000.

While I was putting together some information about another subject, I came across an article about New York City fire hydrants. Most of the following has been condensed, by me, from very detailed articles. http://www.firehydrant.org

  A Little History Lesson

In the beginning, the original “hydrant” may have been something like this iron cauldron from China.

 

Have you ever heard of the term “Fire Plug”?

The term “fire plug” dates from the time when water mains were made from hollowed out logs. The fire company (usually volunteers) would head out to the fire, dig up the cobbles down to the main, then bore a hole into the main so that the excavation would fill with water which they could draft using their pumper. When finished fighting the fire, they’d seal the main with — you guessed it — a “fire plug“.

Cast Iron

Wood

Cast iron would come to replace wooden water mains, and in 1802, the first order for cast iron hydrants was placed.

New York City

New York City’s first fire hydrant was installed in 1808 at the corner of William and Liberty Streets, this hydrant was most likely a wood case hydrant.

By 1817, the first regular iron hydrants were being installed throughout the city. These were most likely flip lid hydrants.

The two fire hydrants pictured below are both original New York City fire hydrants. This style of fire hydrant was popular from as far back as 1840

Starting in 1902, the city began buying mainly one style of fire hydrant’

I found this Allen Standpipe near the East River.

There is much more on this subject on the web. You can look at more pictures at:

http://www.firehydrant.org/pictures/additional-pictures-index.html

http://www.firehydrant.org/pictures/vintage-hydrant-photos.html

None of this is my original work.

Updated from 2012

Hamilton Grange – uptown from the NYC Broadway Stage -Hamilton Heights

Updated  July 2018 – I added additional informaion at the end in case, you would like to explore the area.

hamilton Grange (6)

Nice place to check out if you’re a history buff and you enjoy exploring the lesser explored areas of the city the Hamilton Grange House is an interesting, easy, place to visit. The house and tour are free. They offer a few tours throughout the day and there’s a small self-guided exhibit and video you can see as well. There are only a handful of original pieces in the house. The house is not exactly the way it looked, but you do get a sense of where Hamilton spent some of his last years.

You cannot miss the house as it sits precariously positioned on a hill – It is the third place the building has been moved to

You enter into the basement where the kitchen/servants quarters would have been (obviously the basement is not original to the house) and this takes you into the visitors center/small gift shop where the rangers hang out.

After touring these three rooms you can visit the first floor which has been decorated in period era furnishings.  I say period era because there are only two items in the house which were directly owned by Hamilton.  Everything else is the NPS’s best guess.

Updated on July 30, 2018

While I enjoyed the visit, it may not be for everyone. The area is away from other popular historic sites. the area streets are somewhat steep and can be difficult walking for some. The Grange is a very basic structure and inside there were several replica and period pieces as well as a few original items. To better enjoy your visit,  I suggest adding a walk around City College(immediately above the Grange)  to see the unique buildings and gargoyles. 

I added an article from amNY.com that gives a newer look at this area

Hamilton Heights is full of historic buildings of all types. St. Luke’s’ Episcopal Church, which saved the Grange in 1889, is still here. Hamilton Terrace is an out-of-the way enclave, running one block between West 141st and West 144th and Like Strivers Row and Convent Avenue, it has single-family rowhouses in excellent condition.

Also, it is worth it to walk around the corner to St Luke’s church to see the Alexander Hamilton statue…

For me, I enjoyed my visit to this summer home of Alexander Hamilton. He was a vital part of our nation’s history and it is nice to know that his heritage has been preserved.

 

hamilton Grange (49)

 

 

 Links of Interest:

City College

 Sylvan Terrace

Hamilton Historic District

NYC – Statue of Liberty – Mini

Today,  I was off to watch the St Patrick’s Day Parade. I thought that the area  around the east 60’s and Central Park would be best. From the subway at Lexington Ave I made my way down Lex to east 61st Street On my walks I slow my pace and try to enjoy the walk and maybe find  something new. (at least to me.)

I found myself outside of 667 East 61st Street looking at a 9 ft tall Statue of Liberty. My first thought was that somebody made a smaller copy and placed it here in front of a building to attract a passer-by.

The plaque  gave me more details:

It cost over 1 million dollars – and according to French law, only 12 copies can ever be made from the original mould. She’s the only one here in the United States.

 

I did not think to get up close (should have known better) but later found out that you  can see details that you cannot be seen looking at the larger statue.

For example, did you know that there are broken chains at her feet? They represent our freedom from oppression and tyranny.

From Google

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The seven-pointed crown she wears represents the seven seas and the seven continents of the world.

From Google

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The statue was purchased by The Hartz Group where it  now proudly sits.

Added Bonus

Hint: don’t ignore the insides buildings… this  lobby has a museum quality 16th century Knight’s of Armor and an original 17th century Royal Goblin Tapestry. Only in NYC.

Oh by the way, the parade was great!

NYC – East Village_ St Mark’s Place – Theatre 80 – Original Hollywood Theater?

 

sign theatre 80_pse

As I was looking at the Mosaic Lampposts on 8th Street and St Marks Place, I tried to remember what the street looked like back in the late 60’s. I was not part of the culture but simply a tourist looking at the strange goings-on in the East Village. The street was crowded and wild with activity. All kinds of shops were filled with drug stuff, clothing and skull head jewelry along with a “nice” smell floating through the air.

Beginning during Prohibition, 80 Saint Marks Place was a vital destination for performers of all kinds. It was a speakeasy where Jazz greats such as Thelonious Monk, Harry “Sweets” Edison, John Coltrane and Frank Sinatra performed here before Theatre 80 was established.

outside 80

At Theatre 80 the careers of many famous performers were launched. Some of the famous names are Gary Burghoff, and Billy Crystal. During the 1970s and 80s as a film revival house, people were able to see vintage films on a movie theatre screen in an audience setting in Theatre 80.

inside 80

It was also visited by a host of great names in theater, many of whom left their names, foot and hand prints in the cement of the sidewalk. A partial list includes Gloria Swanson, Joan Crawford, Myrna Loy, Ruby Keeler, Joan Blondell, Kitty Carlisle and Joan Rivers.

theater 80 actors no names-pse

If you want to guess

NAMES OF ACTORS ARE AT VERY END OF BLOG

 

NEW GANGSTERIn 2007, Theatre 80 was restored. As part of this restoration, the Museum of the American Gangster and William Barnacle Tavern was opened.( William Barnacle Tavern is named after William “Barnacle Bill” Scott, a merchant sailor who was often called the “mayor” of Tompkins Square Park.)

tavern

 

The theater still presents a range of productions from traditional forms such as Shakespearean theater and flamenco dance, to the cutting edge avant-garde and works from new authors.

My impression

St Marks Place still attracts hordes of young people throughout the day and night to its bars, restaurants, karaoke spots, clothing stores, tattoo parlours, and e-cigarette shops. The street on Friday and Saturday nights thrums with laughter, conversation and music until the early hours. “Walking on St Marks Place on a weekend night, you become aware of a rhythm,It is still a countercultural magnet, and as a resident myself, I can attest to the fact that “crusty punks” with pit bulls and the odd group of cannabis-smoking teenagers can at times still provide a bracingly antisocial air. The street has not been completely sanitised yet,”

“The street today is safer and more pleasant than at any point in the last fifty years,”

Keep going

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

old actors-1

nyc – Wooden Framed Homes with Porches – a vanishing Group

A while back I wrote about NYC wooden framed houses.  I am always fascinated that some of them still exist. Over the years, many building are now marble and limestone townhouses, but there still exist charming houses, made of plain old wood. I am singling out a few that have front porches. I would imagine that there are not many of these left. Yesterday, I found a wooden framed house at 17 east 128th Street. I should mention that there are several other wooden framed house but very few that have been restored and contain a front porch.

 My original Blog – Houses made of wood – in Manhattan? – might be of interest .

Look at the similarity of  the following three homes’

 

East 92nd Street

east 85thg blog
412 East 85th Street

 

east 128th st
17 East 128th Street

These are the only ones found that have been restored and contain a front porch. These homes are really unique to the city. I discovered that around 1866 the fire code banned  these types of houses from being built below 86th Street.

Unfortunately before many houses can be land marked, developers change them into something else. Quite a handful of old wood frame houses still exist in various parts of Harlem but none are official landmarks and so might not last much longer in the coming years.There is a lot of bland-new construction arriving in all NYC  neighborhoods these days but the actual charm that still remains in some neighborhoods comes from the past so hopefully more investors will see that in the future.

Note: The landmark commission usually takes several years to approve a property. Also, the dwelling must be able to be renovated so many of the wooden home have fallen to decay and vandalism.

NYC – Gotham – Superman – The Daily News Building

Once the home of  Superman and a Vintage Globe – The Daily News

I suppose not many people go east of the Chrysler Building on east 42nd Street but those who do, will enjoy one of the city’s most historic Art Deco structures. The Daily News Building.

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This was the home of America’s first tabloid newspaper, the illustrious Daily News, until 1995. The outside of the building is exceptional enough on its own; a giant mural carved above the entrance in the Art Deco style depicts working Manhattanites under an illuminated sky.

 

But on walking into the building, you will  find a  spectacular architectural sight: a vintage globe that nearly dwarfs onlookers. IMG_1697 The globe is 12 feet in diameter and weighs approximately 4,000 pounds. It makes a full rotation every ten minutes, moving
144 times faster than the actual planet.12276380584_3f43e2dbfb_o

 

But it gets even better. Above the globe, an enormous rotunda made of faceted black glass extends upward, intended to depict outer space:

 

 

The giant globe was featured as part of the fictional Daily Planet in Richard Donner’s Superman films. The lobby still shows photographs of Christopher Reeve as Clark Kent and Margot Kidder as Lois Lane at work in the hectic newspaper offices.

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I added the Superman image

 

Accompanying the massive model are brass meteorological instruments giving the day’s rainfall, wind velocity, and atmospheric pressure, ornate clocks give the time in far-flung destinations such as Panama, Casablanca, Belgrade, and Berlin.IMG_1716

Inscribed on the floor surrounding the globe are the distances to such exotic locales as Cairo, Gibraltar, and the North Pole, suggesting to visitors not already bowled over by the remarkable lobby that New York was indeed the center of the world.

 

Also on display in the lobby is this gorgeous time zone clock, which features New York City time in the center…. surrounded by 16 miniature clock faces depicting time throughout the world.

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Finally, as you exit the building, be sure to look up……where you’ll see a gorgeous period clock overhead.

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And best of all, walking through the doors is like traveling back in time to the 1930s.

NYC – New York City Questions – New-York Historical Society

ny historicAL QUESTION

Here is some trivia from the New – York Historical Society. They might come in handy at your next family gathering or for use during a long trip.

 

Questions about New York City

  1. How Much Horse Manure Was Deposited on the Streets of New York City Before the Advent of the Automobile, and What Happened to It?
  2. Are There More Statues of Liberty Than the One That Stands in New York Harbor?
  3. How Did the New York Yankees Get Their Name?
  4. How Did the Boroughs Get Their Names?
  5. What is the Oldest Building in New York City?
  6. How Did New York Get Its Famous Nickname: The Empire State?

 

 

ANSWERS

1. How Much Horse Manure Was Deposited on the Streets of New York City Before the Advent of the Automobile, and What Happened to It?

According to the 89th Annual Report of the Board of Health, nearly 500 tones of horse manure were collected from the streets of New York every day, produced by 62,208 horses living in 1,307 stables. The manure, along with human waste, was deposited on Barren Island, where it was converted into fertilizer in a process said to be “not inoffensive” to residents on the Long Island shore.

2. Are There More Statues of Liberty Than the One That Stands in New York Harbor?

There are two Statues of Liberty in New York City. One stands i new York Harbor. A replica of “Lady Liberty” has graced the Brooklyn Museum’s Sculpture Garden since 2002. She is thirty feet tall and was commissioned by William H. Flattau in 1900 to stand atop his building, the Liberty Warehouse in Manhattan. Other Statues of Liberty are found throughout the world, including two in Paris, France.

 

3. How Did the New York Yankees Get Their Name?

No definitive answers exists, but there is speculation that it borrows from the Civil War connotaion of the term “Yankee,” in that the team played north of their counterparts, the New York Giants. The Yankees’ other early nicknames, Hilltoppers and Highlanders, similarly drew upon geographic inspiration, but from the location of the team’s first field, Hilltop Park, in Washington Heights.

 

4. How Did the Boroughs Get Their Names?

In 1609 Robert Guet called the island “Mannahata,” after Native American names for the area. Henry Hudson referred to Staten Eylandt after the States General—Netherlands’ governing body. The Bronx is named after Jonas Bronck, who settled in the area in 1639. Brooklyn refers to Breukelen, the Dutch village in the Netherlands. Queens was named after Queen Catherine of Braganza, wife of King Charles II of England (1630-1685).

 

5. What is the Oldest Building in New York City?

The Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum, at 5816 Clarendon Road, Brooklyn, is the city’s oldest surviving stucture. Built in stages beginning around 1652, it housed descendants of Pieter Claesen Wyckoff until 1901, when they sold the property. Repurchased by the Wyckoff Family Association in 1961, it was the first building granted protection by the newly-formed Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1965.

 

6. How Did New York Get Its Famous Nickname: The Empire State?

Signs commonly point to George Washington. Although other, unsubstantiated stories crediting Washington exist, the best documented source is a 1785 thank-you letter to the New York Common Council for bestowing upon him the Freedom of the City. In addition to praising New York’s resilience in the war he describes the State of New York as “the Seat of the Empire.”

 

 

These and many more questions are on A New-York Historical Society Museum web page . More questions are here.

Their current exhibitions are here.