NYC History: Morris-Jumel Mansion
The Mansion, Once Washington's HQ, is Home to 'Spirited' History
I had an opportunity to visit the historic Morris-Jumel Mansion in Washington Heights this summer. The mansion was built in 1765 by a British Military Officer, Roger Morris, who had married a wealthy heiress, Mary Philipse. Mary was the daughter and granddaughter of early Dutch immigrants [circa 1650's] who had become large landowners along the Hudson River - including lands ranging from what is now the western Bronx, all the way up to Putnam County.
The Morris Jumel Mansion was built atop one of the highest - if not the highest points of Manhattan - and to this day provides a great view of the surrounding urbanscape. During the Revolutionary War General George Washington set up headquarters at the house in September / October of 1776 where he won his first battle against the British in the Battle of Harlem Heights. This was an important victory because it demonstrated the colonialists could win battles and it came after Washington's forces had to evacuate what is now Brooklyn - in a Dunkirk style exit across the East River earlier that summer. The curators at the mansion, maintain the room that was once Washington's headquarters in a manner similar to the time.
Morris Jumel Mansion in Washington Heights
Nonetheless, the British were beginning to surround Washington in that locale, so he soon evacuated it. Today we call the area Washington Heights, and it is likely Washington's presence in this home during the war, that influenced the name of this neighborhood.
These Morrises were sympathizers to the British Crown, and thus evacuated it when the American Revolutionary War broke out in 1775. Eventually Morris had to forfeit their lands, when the colonialists suprised the world, and in 1783 emerged the victorious agains the British Empire. It's worth noting that there is a Robert [not Roger] Morris who was one of the American Founding Fathers.
From the time of the forfeiture of the house until it was a acquired in 1810 by Stephen Jumel and his wife Eliza, the mansion was reported to have been used as a tavern. There's not much information available about Stephen Jumel - not even a picture, but plenty about his wily wife, Eliza. They remodeled the house, notably the front of it in a Federalist style. Stephen died in a reportedly unusual death / accident in 1832 and there were rumors that Eliza may have had something to do with it.
Jumel Marries Burr & Mansion Inspires 'Hamilton' Playwright
Eliza married Aaron Burr, a former Vice President and the man who killed Alexander Hamilton. They reportedly lived together a short while [she was 19 years his junior], as it appeared to be a marriage of convenience [status for her and money for him] and she obtained the official divorce documents from him on the day of his death in 1836.
Eliza apparently was a shrewd businesswoman and managed the lands they owned in such a manner that she lived comfortably until her death in 1865. The estate took 16 years to settle and the house was finally acquired by the State of New York in 1904 and thereafter bestowed with increasingly protective historic designations.
Playwright Lin-Miranda, author of the popular play, 'Hamilton', apparently sought some good measure of inspiration from this site. Reportedly some key verses were written in Aaron Burr's bedroom.
Paranormal Investigations - Eliza Jumel & the Morris Jumel Mansion
There's been some emerging lore, dating back over half a century, that the ghost of Eliza Jumel, and possibly others, haunts the mansion. In fact the museum capitalizes on this lore by offering folks paranormal investigational tours.
All in all it was a fun visit to the Morris Jumel Mansion in Washington Heights. It was my first visit there and it won't be my last.
Update on the Steinway Mansion in Astoria Queens
Visionary Investor Makes Good on Development but Still no Announcement of his Plans for the Steinway Mansion
On May 3rd, 2014 the Halberian Family sold the Steinway Mansion to Steinway Mansion LLC for $2.65 million. In the two and a half years since, the new Steinway Mansion owner parceled the property into a eleven additional smaller lots and built eleven two story commercial buildings on each. We watched as the owner quietly developed the property, likely in line with his plans while making the investment.
Just over a year ago I visited the site and took some photos, which momentarily revealed the resplendent glory of the old mansion, overlooking the East River and distant Rikers Island and Bronx shores. The new owner had cut away most of what remained of the Steinway Mansion yard to make way for the new buildings at a height on a level with 42nd and 41st Streets. The construction site seemed well maintained and the historic mansion structure appeared to be treated respectfully both last year, and as I learned in my most recent trip, also since.
The photo above was taken in August of 2015.
Northern Ditmars Neighborhood Real Estate Development
Last weekend I returned to the site to shoot photos and see what was happening. I came in along 42nd Street, and for a moment I wondered if I had gotten my coordinates wrong, as the street had been transformed. The emptiness on the street of the construction site of a year ago had been filled in with a number of spanking new buildings lined along the street with what appeared an exacting precision. The photo to your right shows roughly the same space in September 2016 as was shown in the August 2015 photo above.
A year ago, 42nd Street was an empty, slightly soiled, commercial industrial hub. But on my visit this year the street took on a wholly different appearance with the new buildings / storefronts. There were eight new buildings along 42nd Street, with red brick exteriors complemented by black trim and large floor-to-ceiling paned storefront windows, which I believe could also serve as garage doors. It almost seemed like these new edifices could as easily become art galleries, as manufacturing locales and / or storage facilities.
Click here to read the rest of our report about the Steinway Mansion real estate development in Northern Ditmars, Astoria.
Bethesda Fountain in Central Park
Emma Stebbins' Statue Commemorates NYC's Water System
The Angel of the Waters statue stands atop the fountain in the midst of Bethesda Terrace in Central Park. According to the Parks Department, the terrace was built 1859 - 1864 and according to Wikepedia the statue was designed in 1868 and unveiled in 1873. The Parks Department notes that this was the only statue commissioned in tandem with the opening of Central Park.
In the early 1800's New York City was an unsanitary place and the water was a conduit for the spread of cholera. By the mid 1800's the city had developed the Croton Aqueduct  to transport fresh clean water down into the city, which more or less permanently ended the cholera epidemic.
Around the middle of the 19th century the plans for Central Park were being made, and hence Bethesda Fountain and the Angel of the Waters were included to celebrate and commemorate the accomplishment of something good [fresh clean water] for everyone living in New York City and beyond. The Angel of the Waters references a biblical passage from the gospel of St. John where an angel bestows healing powers upon a pool called Bethesda.
Bethesda Terrace and Fountain are found in the center of the park between 72nd and 76th Streets. The fountain overlooks the lake and boats may be rented at the Loeb Boathouse which is off to one's right when looking at the lake from the fountain.
South Street Seaport Neighborhood & Real Estate Development
An Historical Site and Shopping, Dining & Tourist Destination in NYC
I have visited the South Street Seaport several times over the past year and I have found it to have enough of the blend of old and new to merit several or more visits. In this report I will take you on a brief tour of the South Street Seaport to show you what you can find along the East River, looking up at the Brooklyn Bridge from the southern downtown neighborhood in Manhattan.
South Street Seaport Neighborhood
Many subway lines traverse the downtown area, so it’s not hard to get to from most other parts of Manhattan. And many subway lines from the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn traverse or terminate in lower Manhattan, where the South Street Seaport is located.
The South Street Seaport neighborhood has a number of dimensions to it. To be sure it’s a tourist destination as one can sit along the East River wining or dining while looking out at the Brooklyn Bridge. There are plenty of shops and restaurants in the neighborhood, so it’s not hard to find ways to feed or amuse oneself.
A new real estate development of the South Street Seaport is currently in process. The planning for it was decided upon in 2013 and it is expected to be completed in 2017. The renovation is expected to free up the East River waterfront to more pedestrian activity.
Click here to read about the history of the South Street Seaport neighborhood & real estate development.
Vintage Subway Trains & Rides in Manhattan & Queens
I decided to take a ride on one of the Vintage Subway Cars that run through Manhattan & Queens on each Sunday in December from 10 am to 5 pm. You can ride the vintage subway cars for the regular fare of $2.75, even though back in the day, the ride only cost 10 cents. It's a fun outing and some of the people dressed up for the occasion, only a bit of which is shown in the video.
Click here to read the rest of our report about riding the Vintage Subway Trains & Rides in Manhattan & Queens over the holidays, including the subway lines and stops to which it pertains, as well as the approximate schedule as they only run about every hour and a half.
In 2015 the last day of this special offer is Sunday, December 27th.
Man in Profile: Joseph Mitchell of The New Yorker
Columbia School of Journalism Dean Coll Moderates Conversation with Authors Gay Talese & Thomas Kunkel
I received an invitation to attend a conversation at the Columbia School of Journalism about a new book covering the professional life of one of the most prominent writers of The New Yorker magazine. The Columbia University School of Journalism is easily one of the most prestigious journalism schools in the nation; and Columbia also hosts the judging for the Pulitzer Prize, which is considered one of the highest awards a journalist or author can receive.
It was a fairly warm October evening as I made my way north on the subway along the Upper West Side. I got off at 116th Street and walked east through the main campus to the Faculty House. The Faculty House sits atop the Morningside Heights ridge overlooking Harlem, the Upper West Side and the rest of Manhattan.
The entrance into the Faculty House was from an interior courtyard where Columbia University students were hanging around in casual conversations. Once inside, I was directed to an upper floor where the event was being held.
Seated at the head of the room was Gay Talese, a Pulitzer Prize winner and author of numerous books including The Kingdom & The Power. He was in the company of the Dean of the Columbia School of Journalism, Steve Coll, who is also a Pulitzer Prize-winning author having penned several tomes about issues in Asia, most notably the Middle East. And of course, there was the guest author of the evening, Thomas Kunkel, who is the President of St. Norbert College in Wisconsin and who had penned the book being discussed this evening entitled Man in Profile: Joseph Mitchell of The New Yorker.
Park Avenue Tree Lighting Event UES NYC
Park Avenue Tree Lighting Event Commemorates Sacrifice
I stumbled upon a holiday celebration this year, that is one of the little gems in the living history of Manhattan – the Park Avenue Tree Lighting event. It began in 1945, only months after the conclusion of the Second World War. It was dedicated to those who fought so bravely to defend our American rights and freedoms, and to those who made the ultimate sacrifice: their lives.
What follows is a history of the various people and organizations that have contributed to maintaining this living tribute to those American soldiers, as well as a real time account of the 2015 Park Avenue Tree Lighting event in the photos and video that accompany the story.
Several of the Upper East Siders with whom I conversed, told me that attending this holiday event has become one of their annual family traditions. The event is non-denominational where all are welcome, although it's worth mentioning that the event has some Christian cultural DNA embedded in the speeches and the music. But that said, the event is designed to be inclusive embracing all cultures and peaceful worship, which is one of the American freedoms for which those brave soldiers being commemorated tonight, gave their lives.
Click here to read about the history and see the video of the Park Avenue Tree Lighting event on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
Columbus Day Parade NYC
Upper East Side Welcomes Celebration of Italian Heritage in America
Columbus Citizen Foundation
It was a near perfect day as I made my way to the Upper East Side to watch the Columbus Day Parade in Manhattan. The parade is organized by the Columbus Citizen Foundation. The Columbus Citizen Foundation was formed in 1944 under the leadership of Judge S. Samuel Di Falco and Generoso Pope.
Generoso Pope's life was one of those American success stories. He came to America just after the turn of the century and died a mega millionaire, having made his money in construction. He was also the publisher of a number of Italian language newspapers and a strong supporter of FDR. In 1934 FDR made Columbus Day a national holiday, which some believed was at Generoso Pope's urging.
Columbus Monument & Columbus Circle on the Upper West Side UWS
Pope and Di Falco established the Columbus Citizen Foundation in 1944 which, as mentioned above, is the organizer of the Columbus Day Parade event. According to the Columbus Citizen Foundation website, the parade had been institutionalized in 1929. Prior to the institution of the parade there was a wreath laying ceremony at Columbus Circle to commemorate the anniversary of Columbus's discovery. Columbus Monument in Columbus Circle was erected in Manhattan in 1892 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus' discovery.
Click here for more about the history of the Columbus Day Parade in NYC, including photos and a video of it along the Upper East Side.
The Tenement Museum Lower East Side NYC
A More Holistic View of 19th & 20th Century Immigrant Life
I had the opportunity to visit the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side at the end of August. What I experienced was the walking through a time warp and into the personal lives of European immigrants between about the mid 19th century until nearly the mid 20th century.
It was a journey through time, as we saw many of the engineering and technological changes that made people's lives more comfortable, while simultaneously witnessing the economic struggles of a few select working class folks - and I might add - in a manner similar to what I can see today in many of the working class immigrants' lives in Queens.
It's a tale of hardship, endurance and ultimately of prevailing in spite of circumstances to improve one's lot in life. Not the American dream, but not the American nightmare either.
The Jewish Museum Manhattan
Culture And Continuity: The Jewish Journey Provides A Fascinating Account Of The Travels Of The Jewish Diaspora
April 13, 2015 / Upper East Side Neighborhood UES / Manhattan History / Gotham Buzz. I visited the Jewish Museum on the Upper East Side of Manhattan a couple of weeks ago. It was only a day before Passover was to begin. I went looking to view an art exhibit about Passover, and came away with far, far more.
The Jewish Museum originated in 1904 at the Jewish Theological Seminary on the Upper West Side. It began with a donation of 26 objects by Judge Mayer Sulzberger, father of Arthur Hays Sulzberger. Arthur Hays Sulzberger married Iphigene Ochs, daughter of Adolph Ochs, owner and publisher of the New York Times. Coincidentally the gift was made and the Jewish Museum was created the same year that the New York Times moved to Longacre Square, which today is known as Times Square.
In 1947 the Jewish Museum moved into its current location. The current building was the donation of Frieda and Felix Warburg. Over time the Jewish Museum expanded into the building next to it. In time the buildings were remodeled to look as one building. The Jewish Museum evolved from a museum of Jewish religion into a museum of Jewish culture and art, a sampling of which we've included in the photo and in this short report.
The photo above shows some of the artifacts of Jewish culture from locations in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas.
NYC Luxury Hotels & Historic Hotels Manhattan
Luxury & Historic Hotels On The Upper East Side, UES, Upper West Side UWS, Midtown, West & East Village, SoHo & Tribeca
September 2017 / Manhattan Neighborhoods / Manhattan Historic Hotels / Manhattan Restaurants / Manhattan Buzz NYC. We've taken a renewed interest in the Manhattan hotels in NYC. At present our list of Manhattan hotels is focused on the Midtown and Upper East Side neighborhoods of Manhattan. The hotels in Manhattan offer a wide variety of habitats, from old world luxury, to a modern American traveler.
Picking the hotel you're going to stay at in Manhattan is something you should give thought to - not just for budgetary reasons, but depending on the time of year and your plans during your stay.
Click here to read the rest of our report about luxury & historic hotels Manhattan NYC.
The Winter Antiques Show NYC
A Fascinating World Of Cultural Collectibles
I attended the Winter Antiques Show at the Park Avenue Armory on the Upper East Side [UES]. It was my first visit, although I had walked past it over the course of many Winters, on my way home from work. Little did I know what pleasant surprises awaited.
It didn’t take me long to figure out that the name - Winter Antiques Show - is as old as some of the items on display and is in much need of an update. At the show I found a fascinating world of cultural collectibles – many of which dated back a century or more - but also many of which were from the 20th century. The cut off for exhibited pieces is 1969.
For most of us furniture is what first comes to mind when one hears the word antique, but this was nothing like the Antiques Road Show. It encompassed a much broader selection of things. I would soon encounter specialists in the fields of rare books, Venetian glass, impressionist paintings, Chinese porcelains, European jewelry, French furniture and early American and British photography.
Within these categories I would found treasures that included an original book authored by Benjamin Franklin, early Venini glass, a couple of William Merritt Chase paintings [the Chase school of art was the predecessor of the Parsons School of Design], porcelains from the Ming Dynasty, early Cartier jewelry and photos of a young Senator Kennedy and a defiant Winston Churchill signed by the photographers who took them.
Click here to read the rest of our story about the Winter Antiques Show NYC at the Park Avenue Amory on the Upper East Side. The story includes a photo slide show of many of the rare antiquities and objets d’arte.
Steinway Hall Moves 14 Blocks South
Second Manhattan Move In As Many Centuries / International Center of Photography Moves To Bowery
January 5, 2015 / Midtown NYC / Manhattan History / Gotham Buzz. The Steinway & Sons Piano Company sold Steinway Hall on 57th Street last year for a reported $195 million, and then sold the piano company which has called Astoria Queens its home for about 150 years.
Steinway Hall was just across the street from Carnegie Hall, which made moving the very large but delicate and valuable pianos into and out of Carnegie Hall less complicated. Steinway Hall is moving into what has been the Midtown home of the International Center of Photography along 6th Avenue and 43rd Street. The International Center of Photography is moving to a new location in the Bowery near the New Museum which is at 235 Bowery near Prince Street.
Steinway Hall has been located on 57th Street since 1925 when Steinway & Sons Piano Company moved from their first location on 14th Street. Steinway Hall has been a mix of history and art as it was designed by Warren & Wetmore, one of the architectural firms that collaborated on the re-design of the Beaux-Arts Grand Central Terminal a dozen years earlier . Grand Central Terminal was first erected in 1871.
Steinway Hall is expected to open in this location in 2016, following the re-design of the space. The International Center of Photography is expected to open in mid 2015.
Steinway History Is New York's History
19th Century Queens Pioneers With Big Ideas
Steinway & Sons Legacy Permeates NYC in Manhattan & Queens
December 7, 2010 / Manhattan Buzz NYC.
In our effort to inform Midtown Buzz readers about the full historical significance of the Steinway Mansion, we traveled into Manhattan.
We visited Steinway Hall, which is located on 57th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues, and which is owned by Steinway & Sons pianos - some 85 years later. Once again, I stepped through a time warp, similar to the one into which I stepped when I visited to the Steinway piano factory and more recently the Steinway Mansion, both of which are located in Astoria in Queens.
Steinway Hall was built by Steinway & Sons piano company in 1925, following the erection of Carnegie Hall, which had just supplanted the old Steinway Hall located on 14th Street, as NYC's cultural centerpiece. Click here to read more about Steinway Hall in NYC including numerous photos.
Also, you can find a complete section dedicated to the Steinway & Sons legacy on both Gotham Buzz NYC and Queens Buzz NYC.
Manhattan Historic Sites - Manhattan History & Culture NYC
Cultural & Historic Sites in Tribeca, SoHo, West & East Village, Midtown, Upper East Side UES & Upper West Side UWS
This section provides an overview of some of the historic sites & cultural venues in Manhattan. Most of these venues host events or festivals in Manhattan.
Click here to view our listing of Manhattan Historic Sites & Cultural Venues NYC.
Manhattan History NYC
Historical Sites Midtown Manhattan
A Look At The History Of The Midtown Neighborhoods In NYC
The following provides both a history and links into some of the current day things to do in the Midtown neighborhood of Manhattan including museums, historical sites & tourist attractions, restaurants and shops.
Farmlands & Woods
At the time of the birth of the nation in 1789, New York City was comprised primarily of what today would be called Lower Manhattan, meaning the area south of Canal Street. At the time there were about 100,000 people living in the city.
The city began laying out a grid plan in 1807, which was finalized in 1811. In 1822 the land that now represents the neighborhoods of Midtown Manhattan came under the jurisdiction of New York City. The land became what is called a potters field which is a graveyard for the unknown. In 1840 the land was decommissioned as a potters field and the area that is now the main branch of the New York Public Library was designated to become the water reservoir of New York City. At the same time the adjacent land was to become a park [now Bryant Park].
Click here to continue reading our history of Manhattan Midtown including historical sites in NYC. And click here for a listing of things to do in Midtown NYC in Manhattan.
Upper East Side History / UES Historical Sites
The following provides both a history and links into some of the current day things to do on the Upper East Side neighborhood including museums, restaurants and shops. More will be added as time goes on.
Upper East Side History – Farmlands & Railroads 1780’s – 1830’s
The Upper East Side was farmland as recently as the mid 1800’s. According to Wikipedia, a large swath of the Upper East Side neighborhood was purchased from the heirs of David Provoost [died 1781] by John Jones, a local businessman. The large swath of land, encompassing the area now represented by 66th to 76th streets and from 3rd Avenue to the East River, was parceled into smaller lots among Jones’ offspring.
In 1837 the New York and Harlem Railroad cut its way through the woodlands of what is now the Upper East Side neighborhood to provide a railway route north, eventually traveling up to Boston after the railway finally found a means through which to build railroads through the hilly / mountainous countryside of Connecticut.
Click here to read the rest of our report about the history of the Upper East Side of Manhattan & UES historical sites. And click here to see a listing of things to do on the Upper East Side UES.
East Village History & West Village Historical Sites
A Look At The History Of The West & East Village Neighborhoods
Manhattan Neighborhoods / Manhattan History / Manhattan Buzz NYC.
The following provides both a history and links into some of the current day things to do in the East Village neighborhood and the West Village Neighborhood including schools, restaurants and shops. More will be added as time goes on.
Greenwich Village History – Dutch Farmlands – 1600’s
The area now covered by the western section of Greenwich Village was once farmland owned by the Dutch settlers. In 1664 the English won the colony from the Dutch in the war. At the time the area was somewhat separate from lower Manhattan.
Click here to read the rest of our report about the history of the West Village & East Village NYC including historical sites. Or click here to see a listing of things to do in the East Village & West Village NYC.
Midtown / UES / UWS - Manhattan NYC
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