History and Significance of the Northern Area

The Northern section of the Harlem River Study Area is defined by two low- and medium-density residential neighborhoods—Inwood and Marble Hill—divided by the Harlem River. This upland residential area is characterized by hilly topography and expanses of parkland that dominate the landscape, affecting the orientation and form of the neighborhoods’ development. Separated in 1895 by the digging of the Harlem River Ship Canal, the two communities in this area have maintained a connection through the years, being linked by the Broadway Bridge and the IRT. Although many physical, political, and psychological separations exist, connections are also apparent and set this section of the river apart as simultaneously a cohesive yet varied residential region.

This area of New York City has historically been a crossing location.  Inhabitants would ford the shallow area of Spuyten Duyvil Creek, which separated Manhattan and the Bronx and was known as the “Wading Place.”  A ferry service replaced the “Wading Place” in the mid-1600s.  Then, in 1693, the first toll bridge, the King’s Bridge, replaced the ferry. As development continued into the end of the nineteenth century, the underlying bedrock of Inwood Marble in the area was exploited as a building material. The result of this quarrying can be seen today in local foundations, buildings, park walls, and bridges as well as in the natural outcroppings that are scattered throughout the region. The residential buildings constructed here are assorted in style, form, and materials; they consist of both single- and two-family homes from the first wave of development as well as pre-war three- to six-story speculative apartment buildings from the 1920s and 1930s. The waves of development relate directly to both the contemporary building trends and the migration of both immigrant and native New Yorkers northward as the IRT and IND subways were expanded and the desire for residing in settings with open parkland became popular.

Although there are many similarities between Inwood and Marble Hill in topography and architectural design, each neighborhood has its own definable character due to a distinctive sense of place. The studied section of Inwood, bordered to the west by the vast Inwood Hill Park and split in the middle by Isham Park, encompasses the largest concentration of Art Deco apartment buildings in Manhattan, many of them designed with decorative brickwork and large corner windows. These six-story apartment buildings, along with others of similar scale done in revival styles during the 1920’s, are interspersed with single- and two-family homes, mostly constructed of brick.

In comparison, a housing type found in such abundance nowhere else in Manhattan helps to define the insular character of Marble Hill. The neighborhood’s collection of single-family detached suburban homes of wood-frame construction is characterized by projecting towers and gables. They are sited along the natural topography and in many cases are adjacent to typically urban apartment buildings from the neighborhood’s second wave of development.

The significance of the Northern section lies in the fact that it is made up of specific building types, styles, and forms not seen elsewhere in Manhattan in such concentrations. The single-family detached homes, two and three-family semi-detached homes, and six-story apartment buildings form a connection and association between the two areas. The juxtaposition of these styles and the distinctive character they create typifies and unifies the region.  However, the makeup of these neighborhoods is threatened by the current zoning, which permits the construction of larger and higher density apartment buildings on the sites of detached and semi-detached homes.  It is important to take action to preserve these homes as well as the six-story apartments to protect the character of the residential areas of northern Manhattan.

Inwood:

The Dutch settled in Inwood at the northern tip of Manhattan Island in the 1600s. Dyckman Street, Nagle Avenue, and many other streets in Inwood are named after the prominent families who first developed the area.  Inwood’s history is tied closely to that of New York City and the United States through its role in the Revolutionary War. The Battle of Fort Cock Hill, located in today’s Inwood Hill Park near the Spuyten Duyvil Creek, forced many of Inwood’s patriot residents to flee.  The battle was close to Fort Washington, which was Washington’s last stronghold on the island before it was lost to the British.  After the British left the island in 1782, Inwood families returned to rebuild what they had lost.  It was during this time that the Dyckmans built their home, now a house museum and historic landmark, at the corner of 204th Street and Broadway. The Dyckman and Nagel families set aside a portion of their land in Inwood for a family cemetery, where members of the families and their slaves were buried.  The African American Burial Ground was also located near the present day Verizon building at the junction of 212th Street and 10th Avenue.  The cemetery was active between the 1600s to the 1920s.  The bodies were then exhumed to make way for the MTA 207th Street Station and then relocated to the Woodlong Cemetery in the Bronx.1 

Inwood’s urban beginnings started with the small fishing village of Tubby Hook, located at the western end of today’s Dyckman Street.  Much of the population was concentrated around Tubby Hook and the western edge of the island until the nineteenth century.  Tubby Hook changed from a fishing village to a train station in 1847 with the opening of the Hudson River Railroad.  Soon after, Tubby Hook became a ferry stop for travelers to the New Jersey Palisades across the Hudson River.  Although Inwood was bustling with activity, it retained its rural character, acting only as a stop along the path north to the Bronx or west to the Palisades.

In 1895 the Harlem River Ship Canal was cut, attracting industry to Inwood because of the canal’s accessibility to the rivers.  In 1906 the IRT was extended to Inwood along 10th Avenue, attracting developers.  Partly due to these factors, the first major wave of development in Inwood occurred between the 1910s and 1920s and primarily affected the section east of Broadway. Many of the people who came to settle in Inwood during this wave were Jewish and Irish immigrants who migrated northward from midtown Manhattan.  The immigrants found that they could afford to live in the spacious new housing that offered more amenities than their cramped, midtown tenements for similar rents. 

The west side of Broadway developed during the 1920s and 1930s. Steep terrain and bedrock outcroppings made construction difficult and more expensive than the eastern section that developed a decade earlier. Five to six-story residences with large apartments dominate this area. Many of these buildings have Art Deco details that promoted modernity and progress associated with a higher-income tenant. With the opening of the underground IND subway along Broadway in 1932, the west side of Inwood saw an increase in its higher-income population, who moved from both the South Bronx and East Harlem.

Today, Inwood can best be described as a primarily residential neighborhood of brick apartment buildings interspersed with one and two-family houses and low-rise commercial axes. These housing types and the low scale provide Inwood with a sense of completeness and homogeneity.  Its skewed street grid and large block sizes set the neighborhood apart from the rest of Manhattan.  Inwood breaks from Manhattan’s rectilinear street grid starting at its southern boundary at Dyckman Street.  This skewed grid follows the natural valley between Fort Tryon Park and Inwood Hill Park to the north, begins at Dyckman street to the west and extends east to 10th Avenue. The larger blocks this grid creates can be seen in the breakdown of the streets:  there are no streets between Dyckman (200th) and 204th Streets, or between 204th and 207th Streets. This matrix allows for large apartment buildings. Although Inwood’s apartments are densely populated (many house upwards of fifty families), these residences account for some of the most reasonably priced and generously sized apartments that Manhattan has to offer. Apartment buildings are split between cooperative and rental buildings, and many of the houses are individually owned.  Architectural styles in the neighborhood range from the revival styles of the early apartment buildings to Art Deco buildings and Italianate influences. The detached homes are primarily constructed with Tudor details or in the Arts and Crafts-style. 

After the initial migration of Irish and Jewish populations into Inwood during the first wave development, Inwood saw another influx of Irish immigrants in the 1960s. This prompted many businesses like Tara Irish Gift Shop to open.  Irish-owned businesses in Inwood, many of which have closed in recent years, provided residents with a connection to their homeland by selling Irish newspapers, snacks, and novelties.  Today, Dominicans and other Hispanics, who first migrated to the area in the 1970s, make up 75% of Inwood’s population. The newest demographic trend in Inwood is the arrival of young urban professionals seeking reasonably priced housing in Manhattan.  Although the population of the area has evolved over the years, the built environment has changed little since its early waves of development.

Marble Hill:

Marble Hill has also experienced a number of distinct periods of development, in this case three.  The first period lasted from about 1893 to 1899, and saw the area grow into a suburban neighborhood full of single- and two-family houses.2  These houses are still in existence in Marble Hill today, giving the neighborhood a character rarely found in Manhattan.  With the building of the Harlem River Ship Canal in 1895, Marble Hill became a complete island, surrounded by the Harlem River to the south and the Spuyten Duyvil Creek to the north.  The area changed once again with the filling of the Spuyten Duyvil Creek around 1914, connecting Marble Hill’s landscape the Bronx although it maintained its political connection to Manhattan.3  This duality still exists today.

During these sudden shifts in surroundings, Marble Hill began to develop as a distinct neighborhood with streets curving around the natural topography of the hill. Development near Broadway began in 1893 and quickly moved up the hill throughout the 1890s. The population was predominantly German and Irish, working in occupations that ranged from physicians to laborers, although the majority worked as clerks.4 The years following also saw the formation of major transportation to the area, beginning in 1895 with the construction of a single-span swing bridge over the Harlem River Ship Canal.  Although the first wave of residential development ended before 1900, development of the city’s infrastructure continued with the arrival of mass transportation in the form of the railroads in 1905 and elevated trains in 1907.5   The commercial strip along Broadway, which still serves the neighborhood, was established during these years.  This created a foundation for the next wave of development, which began after World War I.

From 1920 to 1938, construction in Marble Hill consisted of six-story or lower apartment buildings. These new apartment buildings, the work of an array of architects, resulted in a variety of designs that all utilized brick as the primary façade material. Taken as a group, these buildings formed a wall around the neighborhood, distinguishing Marble Hill as separate and distinct.  Smaller houses dating from the 1920s are infill development on small or oddly shaped lots.   Another major construction work – the straightening of the Harlem River Ship Canal – was carried out in the 1930s and completed in 1938.6

During the second wave of development the settling population was predominantly composed of American citizens, although first and second-generation immigrants from Germany, Ireland, and many other countries constituted a large percentage of the community.  Marble Hill also represented a center for the Jewish population of the northwestern Bronx.  Similar to the during the first wave of development, those who settled in the area were clerks, bricklayers, actors, musicians, architects, mechanics, shop owners, and doctors. This pointed Marble Hill in the direction of becoming a solid middle-income neighborhood.7 

The third wave of development in Marble Hill came with large-scale public housing projects that increased the population of Marble Hill significantly. Marble Hill Houses were built in the early 1950s, and the thirty-two-story Promenade Apartments, on the edge of the canal, was completed in 1972.

Today, Marble Hill still constitutes the most northern neighborhood of the borough of Manhattan, although it is both physically and socially disconnected. The steep hill inclines one hundred feet from the shipping canal to the crest and about seventy feet from Broadway to the highest point at Van Corlear Place. The characteristic curvilinear street grid, laid out in the 1890s, encloses the core of the neighborhood, which is only accessible from three points at 225th Street, 228th Street, and Marble Hill Avenue. In the south, the hill drops abruptly to the railroad tracks and the ship canal.  To the west, where the Spuyten Duyvil Creek ran its course, the significantly lower land represents a natural boundary.  Many of the buildings are built to the lot line, consequently having irregular shapes adjusting to the curved streets.

 

Significant Resources

Within Both Marble Hill and Inwood:

  • Elevated IRT Stations
    Location: 207th, 215th and 225th Streets
    Date: 1908
    Architect: Heins and La Farge
    Recommended Acknowledgement: Educational Element

    The IRT Stations of Inwood and Marble Hill are three small structures that continue in their original function as transit shelters.  They are part of a larger series that service the subway’s elevated rail line in the northern part of Manhattan and the Bronx.  Although not spectacular either in size or monumentality, they maintain and contribute to the character of the communities in a way that is very much in tune with their historic development.  Designed by Heins and La Farge and finished by 1908, the stations were essential hubs when the neighborhood grids and buildings were being established.   As they were elevated and above ground, these cast-iron and wood stations were more efficient and economical to build than their underground counterparts.  The design is also more humble than that of the previous period elevated train system in New York, and its exposed ornamental iron features is a modest example of the French Beaux-Arts that it was inspired by.   These buildings are an important part of Inwood and Marble Hill’s history of development.   Today they continue to serve the community with their function and presence. 

Inwood

  • Dyckman Farmhouse
    Location: 4881 Broadway, between West 204th and West 207th Streets
    Tax Block/Lot: 2241/ 35
    Date: 1785
    Architect: Unknown
    Landmark Status: New York City Landmark (1967), National and State Register (1967)

    Manhattan’s only remaining Dutch colonial farmhouse tells the story of the area’s early settlement and colonial past.  It was the home of William Dyckman, whose grandfather Jan Dyckman came to America in 1661 from Westphalia, Germany. The purchased land would later become a three-hundred acre farm.  During the American Revolution, both the colonists and the British occupied the property, although the latter burned the original 1748 dwelling.  The one and one-half story house built in its stead, from fieldstone, brick, wood, and materials salvaged from the first home, served the family until 1870, when part of the farm was sold at auction. The Dyckman family purchased, restored, and donated the house to the city in 1915.  The husband of a Dyckman descendant, Alexander McMillan Welch, who was the architect of St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church in Marble Hill, completed the farmhouse’s restoration in 1916. 

  • The Seaman-Drake Arch
    Location: 5063/ 5067 Broadway
    Tax Block/Lot:  2243/ 261
    Date: 1855
    Architect:  unknown
    Recommended Acknowledgement: Individual Designation (New York City and National Register)

    The Seaman-Drake Arch provides a glimpse of another time and grandeur that once existed at the northern tip of Manhattan.  Located in Inwood at 217th Street, along what was the old Kingsbridge Road, now Broadway, it is one of two surviving free-standing arches in New York City.  Built in 1855 from locally quarried marble, the arch served as the gatehouse to the Seaman estate.  The architectural style and materiality of the arch corresponded to the design of the mansion.  They were neo-classical in design and both were constructed from the local Inwood Marble.  The demolition of the mansion in 1938 heightened the arch’s importance.  The estate’s last owner was a member of an auto club, which presaged the site’s subsequent history.  The area’s transformation from rural to urban de-monumentalized the arch by obscuring its form and exposing it to cultural mischief.  Embedded in its built environment, the arch has been integrated into the urban landscape; it now represents multiple periods of Inwood’s history.

  • Ginkgo Tree (Ginkgo biloba)
    Location: Broadway and 212th Street, at the entrance to Isham Park
    Date: circa 1885
    Recommended Acknowledgement: Appropriate Signage

    From its elevation overlooking the old Kingsbridge Road, now Broadway, this proud specimen has witnessed Inwood’s transition from rural to urban for more than one hundred years.  It once marked the turn in from Broadway to the carriage road of the William B. Isham estate, now Isham Park.  Referred to as the “landmark ginkgo tree” on New York City Parks & Recreation topographical maps from 1934, the tree is noted on current park signage and local residents speak of it fondly. A gardener’s cottage, now demolished, stood immediately to the north of the tree and can be seen in old estate photographs. Embedded in the stone wall directly beneath the tree is a milestone marker that once stood at 191st Street and Broadway; both survive from the Isham family’s residency.  The ginkgo is the only living connection to the Kingsbridge Road and stands as a reminder of a pastoral Inwood and a bygone era.

  • Detached/Semi-Detached Homes in Inwood
    Location: 42 Park Terrace East, 530 West 215th Street, 65-83 Payson Avenue, 640-646 West 207th Street, 91, 93, 95/97 Park Terrace West
    Tax Block/Lot: Various
    Date: circa 1900-1926
    Architects: Various
    Recommended Acknowledgement: Educational Element

    During the 1920s and 1930s there was a housing boom in Inwood.  Along with the construction of multiple apartment houses, many detached and semi-detached homes were built.  These buildings provided the middle-income immigrants, who made up the majority of the population moving into the neighborhood at the time, with a greater variety of housing types.  The smaller houses also gave a section of Manhattan a suburban feel that is rare on the island.  For example, the building type used for 65-83 Payson Avenue can be found in abundance in New Jersey and Brooklyn.  The six-story height of most of the apartment houses also adds to the suburban feel of the neighborhood with few exceeding six stories.  Inwood creates a contrast to the neighborhoods further downtown where many skyscraper-style apartment houses were being built.  Although each house or group of detached and semi-detached houses has its own style, ranging from Tudor-revival to Arts & Crafts to Spanish-colonial and more, the scale of the houses is very similar, giving a sense of uniformity to the group. (These structures are subsequently described on an individual level in accordance with their construction date.)

  • 42 Park Terrace East
    Tax Block/Lot: 2243/334
    Date: circa 1900
    Architect: Unknown
    Recommended Acknowledgement: Educational Element (Part of Detached/Semi-Detached Homes in Inwood)

    42 Park Terrace East is significant as it is the only example of a Spanish colonial residence in the study area.  The yellow-stuccoed exterior of this modest, yet distinctive, wood-framed building, coupled with a red terra-cotta pan tile roof and decorative wooden bracket details, makes this structure unlike any other building in the study area in both appearance and use of materials. The surrounding context of six-story red brick apartment buildings further distinguishes this residence as a rare entity in the neighborhood. Situated at the corner of 215th Street, where the road turns into a pedestrian-only street stair, the building serves as an anchor; it is an element of the area identifiable by the inhabitants of the neighborhood.

  • 215th Street Stair
    Location: 215th Street between Broadway and Park Terrace West
    Date: 1911
    Architect: Unknown
    Recommended Acknowledgement: Educational Element

    The 215th Street Stair, a distinctive object within New York City and the only example in Inwood, lies on a steep incline linking the commercial corridor of Broadway to the residential upland. The stair, erected in 1911, was built before the majority of development took place in Inwood.  The stair connects back to Inwood’s pastoral history of estates and expansive parklands and the decorative features further its integration into the landscape.  Built-in planters landscaped with flowers and plants grace the landing and benches, and welcome pedestrians to sit and rest. The inviting quality of this street stair is enhanced by the many lampposts, which provide ample lighting for the stair at night. This stair is an aesthetically significant feature of the neighborhood, linking the built infrastructure to its pedestrian, rural characteristics.

  • Isham Park
    Location: Bounded by Isham Street, 215th Street, Broadway, and Seaman Avenue
    Tax Block/Lot: 2243 and 2250/10 and 20
    Date 1912+
    Landscape Architect: Unknown
    Recommended Acknowledgement: Individual Designation (New York City Scenic Landmark) 

    In 1911, Julia Isham Taylor gave a portion of her inheritance—six acres of land and her family’s home—as a gift to the city for the purpose of establishing a park in memory of her father, New York City leather merchant William B. Isham.  This was the beginning of park development at the uppermost tip of Manhattan Island. Subsequent gifts of land from both her and an aunt, Flora Isham, enlarged the park and preserved views of the Harlem and Hudson rivers and access to the Harlem River Ship Canal for the public.  The nineteenth-century Isham estate, which occupied more than twenty-three acres, consisted of an Italianate-style house, greenhouses, barns, and wheat fields, all of which are gone.  A large exposed vein of marble can be seen at the corner of Seaman Avenue and Isham Street.  The land was originally part of the bouwerie of Dutch settler Tobias Teunissen, and before this Native Americans planted corn on the property and farmed it along what is now Seaman Avenue.  During the American Revolution, Isham Hill was the site of Hessian encampments. Although the park was once known for its rolling lawns and sweeping river views, development in Inwood and new vegetation have obstructed these panoramas; only the Henry Hudson Bridge and the Hudson River may be glimpsed on winter days. A magnificent ginkgo tree (Ginkgo biloba) that marked the Broadway entrance to the estate’s carriage road, still stands sentinel at 212th Street, now a park entrance.

  • Views of the Hudson and Harlem Rivers
    Location: At the 103 ft. elevation, east of Park Terrace West, between Isham Street and 215th Street
    Recommended Acknowledgement: Contributing Designation (as part of Isham Park designation)

    The Isham estate once boasted uninterrupted views of the Harlem and Hudson rivers, Palisades, and Harlem River Ship Canal from the crest of the hill.  Mr. Isham created these vistas by clearing the trees from his property, a practice popular during the nineteenth century when Andrew Jackson Downing and Alexander Jackson Davis’s advocation of and prescription for the picturesque found widespread appeal.  The city hoped that these views would draw visitors to Isham Park, which was made more accessible by the opening of the IRT line in Inwood in 1906. Although many of these vistas are now closed, pruning and removal of selective trees would do much to restore the view through Spuyten Duyvil to the Hudson River for the enjoyment of park visitors. 

  • William A. Hurst House/ later Northeast Academy School
    Location: 530 West 215th Street at Park Terrace West
    Tax Block/Lot: 2243/339
    Date: 1912
    Architect: James W. O’Connor
    Recommended Acknowledgement: Educational Element (Part of Detached/Semi-Detached Homes in Inwood)

    Originally constructed as a large private residence, this building has undergone many changes in its lifetime. Built in 1912 for William A. Hurst, his wife, and their large family of ten children, this home was constructed to flee from the tight confines of their former home, a townhouse in the west 80’s of Manhattan. This building is constructed in brick with a small amount of terra-cotta decorative detailing. Situated on a large lot located in this idyllic neighborhood, the land was purchased as the Seaman-Drake Estate sold off its first parcels of land for development. By 1935, the home had been converted into a convent and by 1946, a parochial school; the Garrard School of the Academy of the Sacred Heart of Mary moved in to the building and added a large addition to the west.  It has remained part of a school facility since, and is currently a vacant building connected to the Northern Academy. Current residents of the area vividly remember the nuns as respectable and visible members of the community. Today, the building is vacant and in disrepair due to neglect, but it remains as an icon: a remnant of the stages of Inwood’s development and a visual memory of the building’s former inhabitants.

  • Inwood Hill Park
    Location: Bound by Dyckman Street, Payson and Seaman Avenues, Indian Road and the Harlem and Hudson Rivers
    Tax Block/Lot: 2255/2000
    Date: 1916
    Landscape Architect: Unknown
    Recommended Acknowledgement: Individual Designation (New York City Scenic Landmark)

    Inwood Hill Park is located on the north-westernmost tip of Manhattan, in the neighborhood of Inwood. The park today comprises two types of parkland, one wild, the other more manicured. The differences in the areas are clearly distinguished from within the park, as well as from aerial views, where dense tree coverage indicates the areas of the park that have essentially grown unhindered for over one hundred years. The historical, cultural, and natural significance of Inwood Hill Park lies in how the hill has been adapted, both before and after it became a park, to meet the needs of the people around it. During the era of Native American settlement, the park served as a homestead, providing fertile grounds for hunting and planting along Spuyten Duyvil Creek and the Hudson River. Native American rock shelters from this time remain today. Centuries later, the park was able to serve as a picturesque getaway for the New York society’s elite. By 1916, the setting aside of Inwood Hill for a municipal park gave the residents of Inwood much desired protection against encroaching urban development. Meanwhile, in the 1930s and 1940s, the park underwent significant programmatic changes to suit a perceived need for increased recreational outlets. Today, Inwood Hill Park continues to serve the people of Inwood in both passive and active recreational capacities.

  • 65-83 Payson Avenue
    Tax Block/Lot: 2247/14–23
    Date: 1923
    Architect:  Matthew W. Delgaudio
    Recommended Acknowledgement: Educational Element (Part of Detached/Semi-Detached Homes in Inwood)

    The houses located at 65-83 Payson Avenue were built as a group of ten two- and three-family homes with garages located behind.  The buildings were two stories in height although a third story was added to #65.  They were constructed in a Renaissance style with red tiled cornices, two of which survive today. They are made of red brick and once had steel windows, although all of the windows have been replaced save those at #65.

    Houses of this type are found in abundance in Brooklyn and New Jersey and are constructed in various architectural styles.  For example, a group of houses in Marble Hill have the same footprint as 65-83 Payson Avenue but were built in a classical style.  There are also three Arts & Crafts Houses in Inwood that come from this type (91,93, 95/97 Park Terrace West).  The buildings have a square massing that is not very tall and small voids separate them.  Each house has a garage located behind it.   When considered along with the other detached and semi-detached homes in Inwood, especially the group on Park Terrace West, these houses become part of a group that makes a significant contribution to the character of the neighborhood.

  • Isham Gardens
    Location: 221-229 Seaman Avenue and 31-41 Park Terrace West
    Tax Block/Lot: 2243/90
    Date: 1924
    Architect: Springsteen and Goldhammer
    Recommended Acknowledgement: Appropriate Signage

    Isham Gardens is a six-story courtyard building located on the block directly north of Isham Park between Seaman Avenue and Park Terrace West.  It holds a unique place within the story of Inwood’s development.  Its concept was born of the dream of its builder, Conrad Glaser, whose plans would have had the northern reaches of Inwood developed as resort-like living for middle-income residents.  The result, which was designed by architects, Springsteen and Goldhammer, was a romantic Italianate “manor” overlooking the lush hill of Isham Park.  The original plan for the building included all the modern amenities (except for an elevator); their ad first published in 1924 states “doctor, dentist, valet, barber, beauty salon, [and] taxi-stand” were all on premises.  With the views and healthful breeze of the Hudson nearby, Mr. Glaser intended that living at Isham Gardens would be more like a vacation and had predicted many other resort-like residences would be built throughout Inwood.  This building is culturally significant because its design along with its advertising campaign captures a rare glimpse into the psyche of the middle-class in the early-20th century.  Sport and leisure as introduced by popular advertisement of the times were relatively new ideas to this sector of the population.   In a time of rising rents, many middle-income New Yorkers were moving from lower Manhattan, and the fact that this developer sought to appeal to a popular desire for leisure in developing an apartment house in Inwood speaks to the great influence these ideas were having on the emerging middle-class. Despite the great aspirations of the complex, Isham Gardens success never quite matched the fanfare of its opening. As such, Isham Gardens is both an important testament to the hopes and dreams of the middle class of its time, as well as a poignant reminder of a more practical reality. 

  • 640-646 West 207th Street
    Tax Block/Lot: 2240/21-24
    Date: 1926
    Architect: William Hohauser
    Recommended Acknowledgement: Educational Element (Part of Detached/Semi-Detached Homes in Inwood)

    The two-family homes at the corner of West 207th and Cooper Streets contribute to the historic fabric of Inwood in its second phase of development, which occurred during the 1920s and 1930s.  During this second wave of expansion, developers constructed residences west of Broadway, blasting the rock beds that made up much of Inwood’s landscape.  The lots surrounding 640-646 West 207th Street are unusual for Inwood, however, because it is one of the few places where one can see the historic topography and geology of the area.  In fact, the two-family homes are built atop the existing rock outcropping.

  • # 91, 93, 95/97 Park Terrace West
    Tax Block/Lot: 2243/ 382 and 385
    Date: 1926
    Architect: A. H. Zacharius
    Recommended Acknowledgement: Educational Element (Part of Detached/Semi-Detached Homes in Inwood)

    The apartment houses located at 91, 93 and 95/ 97 Park Terrace West were built in 1926. They represent a popular type of construction that offered residents a sense of independence and ownership. They are also unique examples of the influence of the Arts and Crafts style during a time of growing industrial reproduction. Each house originally consisted of a basement, two main floors, and an attic; they were intended as two family houses and had accompanying two-car garages. The original owner of all three buildings, Jennie Levy, occupied 97 Park Terrace West for a period of time.  93 Park Terrace West at one time served as a convent and as a Christian Brothers Home.

    The buildings were constructed near the end of the Arts and Crafts movement, when Art Deco and modern architecture were becoming more prevalent. While their basic design and materials are repeated as a set, each is slightly different in size and detailing. Their asymmetrical design also emphasizes a form derived from interior functions. Typically, Arts and Crafts buildings incorporate local materials and display a great deal of texture and color. These buildings achieve these aims through their various materials. The buildings have load-bearing brick walls composed of clinker and wire-cut bricks.  The base is composed of rubble stones.  All buildings utilize the local Inwood marble for quoins and doorway keystones.  Decorating the three front porches are Batchelder tiles that portray peacocks and Mayan influenced designs.  The building's original Tudor detailing at the dormers has been replaced with aluminum siding, but all buildings retain their slate roofs.

  • Holy Trinity Church (Merged with Holy Redeemer Church)
    Location: 20 Cumming Street
    Tax Block/Lot: 2237/18
    Date: 1929
    Architect: John Russell Pope
    Recommended Acknowledgement: Appropriate Signage

    Holy Trinity Church parish hall is an excellent example of Late Gothic Style as indicated by the stepped buttresses, narrow and long proportions, deeply recessed openings, heavy wooden doors, and pointed windows with leaded glass.  Since 1868, the congregation, known as the Protestant Episcopal Church of the Holy Trinity, had resided in Harlem, but fires destroyed the parish buildings both in 1880 (Fifth Avenue and 125th Street) and in 1925 (Lenox Avenue and 122nd Street).  During the period, Harlem was experiencing a population in-flux of African Americans, and uncomfortable white families to relocate.  Taking into consideration the opportunity afforded by the fire coupled with the out-flux of the white population in Harlem the congregation to decided to leave Harlem and merge with the Holy Redeemer Church at Seaman Avenue and Isham in 1927.  The congregation, which consisted of mostly of parishioners from the Holy Redeemer, purchased land in 1929 to build a new parish at the current location.  The oldest section of the building, the parish hall, was designed by a nationally acclaimed architect, John Russell Pope, whose works already included the Baltimore Museum of Art: Scottish Rite Temple, Constitution Hall, Pharmaceutical Building, and the National Archives Building in Washington D.C.  Although Pope had designed a more extensive plan, the stock market crash of 1929 prohibited construction beyond the parish hall.  Following in 1935, a wood framed chapel/sanctuary was added by an unknown architect, which expresses the materials and geometry of the parish house in less detail.  Deserving recognition for its historical and architectural significance, the Holy Trinity Church has survived, evolved, and remained an active part of Inwood.

  • Inwood Art Deco Apartment Buildings
    Location: Inwood West of Broadway
    Tax Block/Lot: Various
    Date: 1930s
    Architect: Various
    Recommended Acknowledgement: Individual Designation (National Register Multiple Listing)

    Inwood has the largest enclave of Art Deco apartment houses on the island of Manhattan.  These buildings are an important part of the built character of Inwood; the neighborhood would not look the same without them.  Most were constructed in the 1930s (although four were constructed in the 1920s) and stand six stories tall like their 1920s neighbors, adding to the uniformity of height that characterizes the area.8  Architects such as George Miller, Albert Goldhammer (of Miller & Goldhammer), Horace Ginsbern, and Charles Kreymborg designed many of them. 

    The façades of the Art Deco apartments are characterized by their ornamentation, often consisting of different colored bands of bricks laid in horizontal and vertical patterns and intricate entranceways made of cast stone.  Many are clad in beige brick, popular in 1930s construction.  Through their elaborate brick patterns, these buildings created a sense of grandeur for the middle class without the increase in construction costs that applied ornamentation would require.  An excellent and somewhat unusual example of façade ornamentation is 687 West 204th Street, which was designed by George G. Miller and built in 1935. Horizontal banding in the brickwork and vertical exaggeration in the window treatments create a grid across the façade, unusual for the typical weaving patterns of Art Deco design.  687 West 204th Street is characterized by its unique polychrome cast-stone parapet design that is reminiscent of textile patterns that were used in Art Deco detailing.

    The Art Deco buildings found in the Inwood area are traditionally constructed of load bearing masonry and wood floor joists, with supplemental support coming from steel beams and concrete columns.  City fireproofing laws of the time required a four-inch masonry column at the corner as a semi-structural element to stabilize and anchor delicate steel windows and masonry.9  Gypsum was also used around public stairwells and doors to further fireproof the building. Corner windows can be found on some and were punched into the corner of the exterior walls, with the floor and masonry wall above supported by a steel I-beam.10  Corner windows were associated with the solariums found in upper-income level homes and brought in large amounts of light and air.  They also gave the corner of the building a dematerializing appearance.  When these apartment houses were constructed, they all had steel windows although only a few examples survive today.  The most notable example with surviving steel windows is 101 Cooper Street, which was designed by Horace Ginsbern and built in 1937. 

    Many apartment plans include sunken living rooms, which created higher ceilings and the appearance of more space, a feature that was also seen in upper-income Art Deco apartment houses of the 1920s.  The kitchens were designed to accommodate all the technologies of the day including refrigerators, blenders, and many other appliances.  Many of the lobbies were constructed using marble with terrazzo floors and electric fireplaces; these were deigned as the most luxurious part of the building.  The plan expressed traditional ideas about the hierarchy of public and private space.  The lobbies served to show visitors the social status of the building’s tenants and followed the elaborateness of the façade ornamentation. 

    The Art Deco style was first seen in New York in skyscraper architecture of the 1920’s in buildings like the Century and Majestic apartment houses, the American Radiator Building and the Chrysler building.  It filtered down to middle-income apartment house construction in Inwood, which occurred in earnest during the 1930’s.  The Art Deco influence on these structures can be seen in their ornamentation, their plans, and in the use of the corner window.  This enclave of buildings is extraordinary because it exemplifies middle-income Art Deco of the 1930s in Manhattan and is a resource to our knowledge of the history of the built environment in the city.

  • Inwood Art Deco Lobbies
    Location: Inwood West of Broadway
    Tax Block/Lot: Various
    Date: 1930s
    Architect: Various
    Recommended Acknowledgement: Contributing Designation (as part of Art Deco Multiple Listing)

    The lobbies of Art Deco apartment buildings exemplify 1930s standards for modern living; the interiors emphasize the importance of convenience in addition to design and aesthetics. As the spaces on which first impressions were based, the entrance door and halls alluded to the quality of the apartments and their interior decorations. The interior design of the Art Deco lobbies responded to the centralized floor plans and bilateral symmetry of the Beaux-Arts style. 

    The colorful murals, etched-glass mirrors and stained-glass windows reflected the influence of the modern design movement in America. Furthermore, the role of entertainment in urban life is visible through the theatrical use of new lighting systems and decorative materials.11  In addition to the aesthetic appeal of multicolored, patterned terrazzo, the popularity of the floor covering was also in part due to the material’s low maintenance and durability. New technologies, such as automatic elevators, were celebrated in the modern apartment house. The lobby in 165 Seaman Avenue is exemplary in this respect. The floor is patterned with varying colors of terrazzo and a mural painted by Elsie Driggs and Lee Gatch depicts Native Americans working in a cornfield.

    The concept of the Art Deco lobby was closely connected to the idea of the living room as a semi-private space for domestic life. Much like the living room, the sunken lobby featured electric fireplaces and a lounge area for tenants and guests.  Moreover, windows maximized natural light and ventilation. Although the lobbies are structurally intact, the original Art Deco furnishings have generally been removed.  However, the current state of the Art Deco lobbies provides a significant cultural and architectural resource that contributes to the history of the apartment house in Inwood.

  • Art Deco Apartment Buildings Multiple Listing

    Address

    Block

    Lot

    Year

    Architect

    55 Cooper Street

    2241

    2

    1935

    Miller & Goldhammer

    60-62 Park Terrace West, 537-539 West 215th Street

    2243

    240

    1938

    Albert Goldhammer

    75-77 Park Terrace East, 520-536 West 217th Street

    2243

    230

    1938

    Albert Goldhammer

    61-67 Park Terrace East

    2243

    220

    1938

    Albert Goldhammer

    55-57 Park Terrace East, 521-535 West 215th Street

    2243

    210

    1938

    Albert Goldhammer

    4941-4947 Broadway

    2242

    61

     

    Springsteen & Goldhammer

    101 Cooper Street

    2242

    37

    1937

    Horace Ginsbern & Associates

    647-53 West 207th Street

    2242

    33

    1928

    Benjamin Solom

    27 Indian Road [27-37 Indian Road; 188-204 West 218 Street]

    2250

    50/8

    1938

    H.I. Feldman

    77 Cooper Street

    2241

    14

    1936

    Boak & Paris

    5057-5061 Broadway

    2243

    258

    1939

    Chas. Kreymborg

    687 West 204th Street

    2240

    37

    1935

    George G. Miller

    56 Cooper Street

    2240

    29

    1937

    George G. Miller

    648 West 207th Street

    2240

    17

    1935

    J.M. Felson

    686 West 204th Street

    2239

    21

    1931

    George G. Miller

    674 West 204th Street

    2238

    17

    1935

    George G. Miller

    25 Cooper Street

    2238

    11

    1936

     

    688 Academy Street

    2237

    38

    1936

    Geoorge A. Bagge

    165 Seaman Avenue

    2242

    5

    1937

    Chas. Kreymborg

    83 Park Terrace West

    2243

    386

    1936

    Chas. Kreymborg

    590-592 West 215 Street [583-587 West 214 Street, 1-9 Indian Road]

    2250

    14

    1936

    Miller & Goldhammer

    116 Seaman Avenue

    2248

    109

    1937

    Miller & Goldhammer

    60 Seaman Ave [60-70 Seaman Ave]

    2248

    40

    1936

    Miller & Goldhammer

    119-131 Payson Avenue

    2248

    12

    1935

    George G. Miller

    111-115 Payson Avenue

    2248

    9

    1936

    Miller & Goldhammer

    91 Payson Avenue

    2248

    1

    1935

    George G. Miller

    70-72 Park Terrace West, 538-540 West 217th Street

    2243

    236

    1938

    Albert Goldhammer

    57 Park Terrace West

    2243

    399

     

    Chas Kreymborg

    518 West 218 Street

    2243

    283

    1926

    Springsteen & Goldhammer

    558 West 218th Street

    2243

    378

     

    H Herbert Lilien

    251 Seaman Avenue

    2243

    366

    1939

    Boak & Paris

    245 Seaman Avenue

    2243

    364

    1936

    GW Swiller

    50 Park Terrace West

    2243

    347

     

    Miller & Goldhammer

    28 Park Terrace East

    2243

    335

    1936

    H.I. Feldman

    48 Park Terrace East

    2243

    332

    1941

    Chas Kreymborg

    98 Park Terrace East

    2243

    309

    1948

    H.I. Feldman

    95 Park Terrace East

    2243

    306

    1938

    Albert Goldhammer

    532 West 218 Street

    2243

    289

    1951

    Glick and Gebman

    1-7 Adrian Avenue

    2215

    225

    1924

    Rosario Candela

    40-50 West 225th Street

    2215

    700

     

     

    51-53 Fort Charles Place

    2215

    451

    1921

    Anton Pirner

    61 Adrian Avenue

    2215

    276

    1936

    G.W.Swiller



  • New York Central Railroad Substation
    Location: SE corner of Dyckman Street and Hudson River Railroad
    Tax Block/Lot: 2178/ 2
    Date: 1930
    Architect: unknown
    Recommended Acknowledgement: Appropriate Signage

    The New York Central Railroad Substation was built in 1930 to provide electrical service for the trains on the NYCRR’s Hudson River line. The five-thousand-square-foot, two-room, brick structure is an example of the pre-Columbian style of Art Deco existing in northern Manhattan.  The style, employing motifs borrowed from Aztec and Mayan cultures, features abstracted patterns inspired by ancient sites.

    The general brick massing is articulated as a small temple to the machine age.  The main façade has four expressed pilasters rising the full height and terminating in a stepped cornice line that is set off by cast stone of a contrasting color.  Cast stone is also used in a decorative fashion around window and door openings and in the signage panel over the main entrance with the inscribed words "NYCRR Substation No 10.  Ironwork was used instead of traditional doors on the ground level entrances.  Upper windows are steel casements.

    Art Deco planning was rooted in the Beaux Arts tradition of interior space being easily read on the façades.  Here it translates straight to the asymmetrical massing.  The principle room-the working machine room-became the larger two-story height mass; whereas the secondary storage use was relegated to a one-story appendage.  Both masses are tied together using the same detailing of materials.

  • 527-545 West 217th Street, Inwood
    Tax Block/Lots: 2243/298-305
    Date: 1933
    Architect: Benjamin F.V. Dreisler
    Recommended Acknowledgement: Educational Element

    The single- and two-family homes at 527-545 West 217th Street are a series of nine two-story brick Tudor Revival houses. Designed in 1933 by Benjamin F.V. Dreisler for owner Mary Kessler, these homes capitalized on their location in Inwood’s Park Terrace area. The homes are set back from the lot lines, creating front and rear yards with a rear garage. Stylistically, the buildings create an enclave with a suburban ambiance not found elsewhere in Manhattan.

    The buildings feature diverse building materials characteristic of the Tudor Revival style, including masonry bases, brick façades interspersed with stone, and half-timber and stucco second stories. Sloping slate roofs, chimneys, and turrets are also used.  Each of the buildings has a unique façade.

    A tenth building at 9 Park Terrace West, designed for the same owner in 1934 by C.G de Neergaard, follows the same aesthetic patterns as the earlier development.

  • Payson Playground Comfort Station
    Location: Northwest Corner, Payson Avenue and Dyckman Street
    Tax Block/Lot: 2255/2000
    Date: 1934
    Architect: Unknown
    Recommended Acknowledgement: Individual Designation (National Register)

    A handsome Tudor-style structure that retains many of its original details, the Payson Playground Comfort Station was presumably built as a Depression-era works project as part of the improvements made by Robert Moses in Inwood Hill Park. The exterior is characterized by a slate roof, parapet gables, a large bay window, and red brick laid in English bond.  Blue, pink, and yellow hues of the building’s sandstone base create a ribbon of undulating warmth that is a stark contrast to the brick. The beautiful symmetry of the large interior room is highlighted by glazed terra-cotta tile walls and rows of double-hung wood windows. While the interior is partitioned and suffers from neglect and clutter, most of the change has been cosmetic.  The floors and walls of the restrooms feature tiles no longer used in construction.  The comfort station and its adjacent playground, which was completed in 1939, are named for Reverend George Shipman Payson (1845-1923), a pastor of the Mount Washington Presbyterian Church for many years and a prominent member of the Inwood community, who lived in a parsonage (now demolished) on the property.  Over the past seventy years, trees, formal plantings, and natural growth such as vines that cling to the gable on the north elevation, have embraced the building so that is an integral part of the landscape, making it truly a green oasis in a bustling urban environment.  Operated and owned by the City of New York’s Department of Parks and Recreation, the building retains its original use.

  • Church of the Good Shepherd
    Location: Corner of Broadway and Isham Street
    Tax Block/Lot: 2242/51
    Date: 1935
    Architect: Paul Monaghan
    Recommended Acknowledgement: Appropriate Signage
  • Rectory of the Church of the Good Shepherd
    Location: Corner of Cooper and Isham Streets
    Tax Block/Lot: 2242/51
    Date: 1914
    Architect: Maynicke and Franke
    Recommended Acknowledgement: Appropriate Signage

    The Church of the Good Shepherd, built by the Paulist Fathers on land purchased from the Isham family, has been a spiritual and social center for Inwood’s Roman Catholic community for more than one hundred years.  The priests’ “ultimate aim” was “to establish a great Catholic centre in a part of the city which, in the near future, is destined to have a large population.”12 The first church was a wood frame building that was moved across Cooper Street around 1930 and later razed to make way for an addition to the elementary school.  As Inwood’s population increased in the 1930s following the opening of the IND subway under Broadway, the need for a larger facility for the predominantly Irish congregation was recognized.  Architect Paul Monaghan was commissioned in 1935 to design the present church, a handsome, Romanesque-style building featuring a random coursed granite façade with limestone and granite trim and a roof of terra-cotta barrel tile.  Three stained glass windows set between stepped buttresses are recessed above a prominent porch that projects onto the street.  The building’s massing gives it prominence as a work of architecture and a symbol of the community.  An impressive interior space seats approximately 1,000 people.

    Shortly after the first church was built, a rectory, designed by the firm of Maynicke and Franke, was constructed on the corner of Cooper and Isham Streets, just south of Isham Park, in 1914.  Reminiscent of the Church of the Intercession (Cram and Goodhue, 1912), the simple and well-defined building has Gothic-inspired detailing kept at a minimum and communicates its purpose through strength of form and efficiency of material.  The walls are constructed of Fordham gneiss, which was most likely quarried to the north of Manhattan in the Bronx.  It is accentuated by the use of horizontal bands of a contrasting color.  The siting of the new church blocked views the rectory once had to the Harlem River; the large window openings now look out to the back of the church. During the 1930s, an elementary school and convent were constructed adjacent the site.

    Originally established to minister to Inwood’s Irish community, the Church of the Good Shepherd today serves a largely Hispanic congregation. The church demonstrates a phase of growth for northern Manhattan and is a reminder of the physical presence of Inwood’s middle-income Irish Catholic population.

Marble Hill:

  • Spuyten Duyvil Creek
    Filled c.1910
    Recommended Acknowledgement: Appropriate Signage

    The course of the Spuyten Duyvil Creek, which was filled in the early 20th century, is still evident in the ring of lowland that circumscribes Marble Hill. The Spuyten Duyvil Creek connected the Hudson River with the Harlem River and defined the north shore of Manhattan until the Harlem River Ship Canal was built in 1895. Historically, it separated Manhattan from the mainland, while simultaneously providing an important hub; the wading place across it was a vital link for Native Americans and, from colonial times on, for European settlers. As the Albany Post Road (or Kingsbridge Road) became more and more frequented, a ferry was put into service in 1669.  In its turn, it gave way to the King’s Bridge, which was first built by the Philipse family in 1693.  The Spuyten Duyvil Creek has also constituted a strategically important point of defense.  During the Revolutionary War, Fort Prince Charles was built at the top of Marble Hill.

  • Marble Hill Residential Neighborhood
    Location/Boundary: Broadway, 228th Street, Teunissen Place, Terrace View Avenue, 225th Street
    Tax Block/Lot: Various
    Date: 1890s-1930s
    Architects: Various
    Recommended Acknowledgement: Individual Designation (New York City and National Register)

    The residential neighborhood of Marble Hill was developed, starting in the 1890s, concurrently with the digging of the Harlem River Ship Canal. The buildings erected at this time were single- and two-family detached homes situated in a suburban-like development at the tip of Manhattan. This setting was enhanced by a street pattern curving around the natural terrain of the hillside along with corresponding curvilinear bluestone sidewalks.

    The homes of this first wave of development are of wood-frame construction built in simple Victorian styles with elements including porches, projecting bays, towers, and gables, further characterizing this neighborhood as non-urban in form, materials, and construction method. Typical materials such as wood shingle siding and rockfaced concrete block decorate the exteriors. The buildings are sited in a picturesque fashion along a central promontory ring around the hill.

    Subsequent housing development in the form of speculative apartment buildings built in the 1920s and 1930s reflect the northward-growing city and the attractiveness of Marble Hill. Apartment buildings of varying scales provided the neighborhood with more housing for a larger population and include three-story detached, four-story semi-detached, and six-story apartment buildings in a range of styles from modest Colonial Revival in red brick with simple limestone details to beautiful Art Deco with corner steel casement windows and decorative colored brickwork in geometric patterns.

    Today, there are 75 Victorian wood-framed houses left in Marble Hill. This is the only Manhattan neighborhood where this type of architecture exists. Although most have undergone alterations, the basic building forms and the original scale remain intact. In many cases, original materials remain as well. These free-standing homes lie next to apartment buildings of differing materials and scale from the later period of development. The building forms and styles of the neighborhood interact with each other along with the natural topography of the hill and mesh together in a form that gives a particular and remarkably strong sense of place, unique to both the study area and Manhattan. Because of this, this area is significant culturally, aesthetically and historically.

  • Richard Alexander House
    Location: 61-63 Marble Hill Avenue / 54 Fort Charles Place
    Tax Block/Lot: 2215/504
    Date: 1894
    Architect: Unknown
    Recommended Acknowledgement: Individual Designation (New York City and National Register)

    The Richard Alexander House is an outstanding example of Marble Hill’s eclectic collection of historic detached houses.  It was built in 1894 by Richard Alexander as Marble Hill flourished in its first wave of residential development.  Mr. Alexander was a broker who played a key role in the early real estate dealings of Inwood and Marble Hill, and his office was located in the house.  The house was intended to befit his status as a prominent member of the fledgling community and project an image of a comfortable rural house.  

    The building is designed as a simplified chalet-type, vernacular house.  It has a wood frame on top of an Inwood marble foundation, and features decorative half-timbering and stucco cladding.  The building’s expansive stance, broad roof, deep eaves, and vertical assertion give it an exaggerated scale.  Its striking Tudoresque appearance and prominent situation on a large corner lot overlooking the hill commands great attention.  Perhaps due to these attributes, the house is featured in several historic photographs of Marble Hill. 

    The Richard Alexander House’s picturesque quality is emphasized by its unique relationship to the curvilinear street pattern of Marble Hill.  One’s perception and view of the building takes advantage of the neighborhood’s dramatic topography.  The house is located at the narrow juncture of Marble Hill Avenue and Fort Charles Place, which affords an unobstructed view of virtually all four sides of the structure.  Although Marble Hill has seen much development since the house was constructed, its location has helped to preserve the building’s intended and historic expression.

    The Richard Alexander House is a remarkable example of the fanciful vernacular expression so prevalent in Marble Hill’s early development.  The building’s contribution to the built fabric, spirit, and identity of the neighborhood is invaluable.

  • St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church (Originally St. Stephen’s Methodist Episcopal Church)
    Location: 146 West 228th Street
    Tax Block/Lot: 2215/574
    Date: 1897
    Architect: Alexander McMillan Welch
    Recommended Acknowledgement: Individual Designation (New York City and National Register)

    St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church is an extraordinary survivor from Marble Hill’s first era of development in the 1890s.  The church, which was originally named St. Stephen’s Methodist Episcopal Church, was the first Methodist congregation in what is now the borough of the Bronx.  The church’s current location in Marble Hill is its third home, and a reflection of how congregation members moved southwards to be closer to the city center.  St. Stephen’s was designed by Alexander McMillan Welch and completed in 1897.  Welch was a prolific architect and his wife was a descendant of the prominent Dyckman family.  Among his other projects is the 1916 restoration of the Dyckman Farmhouse in Inwood.  

    St. Stephen’s is one of very few historic Shingle-style buildings in New York City that retains most of its architectural and material integrity. Most distinctly, it is still clad in its original redwood shingles. The church is located at 228th Street and Marble Hill Avenue, and marks the corner with a tall bell tower.  Cross-gables terminate in broad pediments that feature circular stained glass windows on both street facades.  Although its massing is almost residential in scale, these elements provide the church with an institutional character that gives it a very strong presence at the corner.  The interior of the church is remarkable as well, especially the sanctuary that features original oak elements such as curved pews and ceiling vaults.

    St. Stephen’s also exemplifies nineteenth-century thought regarding Protestant church architecture, namely the Akron Plan Sunday School form.  Its influence is apparent at St. Stephen’s in the characteristic amphitheater-style sanctuary that was meant to accommodate larger congregations and encourage participation.  In a manner typical of Akron Plan churches, Sunday school classrooms on the second floor balcony are divided by rolling partitions that allow them to open onto the main sanctuary.

    The survival of St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church, with its original integrity and use, is a rare occurrence.  Today it remains as an important building and piece of history to the congregation and broader community of Marble Hill.

  • 135 West 225th Street
    Tax Block/Lot: 2215/ 470
    Date: 1937
    Architect: Horace Ginsbern
    Recommended Acknowledgement: Individual Designation (New York City and National Register)

    Through its bold use of material and its location overlooking the Harlem River Ship Canal, with views of Inwood Hill Park, the Ginsbern-designed apartment building on 135 West 225th Street defines the corner of 225th Street and Jacobus Place and constitutes a landmark in the sense that it is an identifying point of reference.  The building is designed to be experienced both at a distance and up close, thereby using the potential of the irregular and dramatic site to it’s fullest.

    During the 1920s and 1930s the suburban neighborhood of Marble Hill was transformed through a wave of development where empty lots were filled in, and a fringe of apartment houses was erected around the existing fabric of 1890s single-family dwellings.  This construction created an enclosure that is integral to the distinct character of the neighborhood. The building of 135 West 225th Street is an extraordinary example of the emblematic six-story elevator type, built to supply middle-income housing in northern Manhattan and the outer boroughs during a period of great expansion in New York City.  Through its unaltered architectural features and original materials it provides a rare and important reference.

    With elaborate patterns of red molded brick in various nuances, the façades are given a textile-like texture and a sensuality, which brings predecessors of Northern European brick expressionism to mind.  The massive body of the building is made permeable and transparent by slender steel casement windows, which penetrate the corners of the zigzag front elevation along 225th Street, maximizing the views across the Harlem River Ship Canal.   The cast-stone encased entrance is recessed from the street and it is reached by passing through a small landscaped courtyard.  In the lobby materials like terrazzo, bronze, and stained glass, as well as details like a faux fireplace and indirect lighting evoke an atmosphere of elegance. In combining these features the Ginsbern office created a striking building, yet one of perfect decorum.

  • The Columbia “C”
    Location: Bronx Side of the Harlem River Ship Canal
    Date: 1952
    Initiator: Robert Prendergast
    Recommended Acknowledgement: Educational Element

    The Columbia “C” painted on stone walls on the Bronx side of the Harlem River Ship Canal across from Inwood Hill Park has become a visual marker for residents and tourists.  It is part of the community and is iconic to the Columbia University sports facilities, which includes rowing teams, tennis courts, soccer field, and other major sports events.  In 1952, Robert Prendergast, a Columbia medical student and coxswain on the heavyweight rowing crew team, received permission from the New York Central Railroad to paint a 60 x 60 ft “C” in traffic white and ultramarine blue on this 100 ft high wall of Fordham gneiss along the Harlem River.  The rowers of the crew team completed the “C” in the fall of 1952 and have maintained the appearance of the “C” ever since.  The Columbia “C” needs to be recognized as a community marker, and the installation of an informative plaque in Inwood Hill Park is recommended to educate the public of its history and significance to the area.


1 James Renner, Telephone conversation, April 29, 2004.

2 George Washington Bromley, Atlas of the City of New York, Manhattan Island (Philadelphia: G.W. Bromely, 1885 and 1894.) & “Sanborn Map,” “Digital Sanborn maps, 1867-1970,” 1897, http://www.columbia.edu/cgi-bin/cul/resolve?ATS9159.

3 William A. Tiek, Riverdale, Kingsbridge, Spuyten Duyvil: New York City; a historical epitome of the Northwest Bronx (Old Tappan, NJ: F.H. Revell Co., 1968), 134-137.

4 Twelfth Census of the United States: 1900, New York, Marble Hill, Supervisor’s District no. 171, Enumeration District no. 645, sheet numbers 7-12.

5 “Public Notices,” New York Times, 24 February 1906, p. 10.

6 Tiek, Riverdale, Kingsbride, Spuyten Duyvil, 140.

7 Fifteenth Census of the United States: 1930, New York, Supervisor’s District no. 1168, Enumeration District no. 24, sheet numbers 1-24.

8 Class database of collaborative student research, Historic Preservation Program Studio II, Columbia University, Spring 2004.

9 A note in the plan of 101 Cooper Street states “4” brick masonry inside of angle as fireproofing”

10 Study of the plans of 101 Cooper Street indicates an 8B31 steel member, an unidentifiable member today. Possible like steel members include the W831, a steel I-beam with and eight-inch web and eight-inch flange to support the weight of above.

11 Charles S. Lee and Maggie Valentine, The Show Starts on the Sidewalk: An Architectural History of the Movie Theatre. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994 p.3.

12 New York Times, October 7, 1911.

 

 

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