By request from another thread;
"Has anyone been to the very northernmost tip of Manahattan? Does it contain some of the last truly natural area of Manhattan? Are there any natural creeks or streams left on the island of Manhattan? Do people who live on Manhattan think of Central Park as a natural area even though it was pretty much contrived? Also, is it safe to swim in the Hudson or East Rivers? I had read a biography by George Burns and he said that while growing up in Manhattan in the early 20th century he and his friends sometimes went swimming in the East River. Is it illegal today? What is Riker's Island? Does Sing Sing still exist? What is the oldest building in Manhattan? Is Battery Park where the old Dutch fort was? I know Isound like a nagging kid but I've sometimes wondered about these questions."
The oldest building, so they say, is the Fraunces Tavern built by a DeLancey in 1719.
It seems amazing that kids could swim in the current of the East River and not be swept away into NY Harbor, straight through the Narrows, and out to the Atlantic. I walk past the river every single day during lunch, the current looks wild. How would they even get in and out? There's no 'shore' really, how would they even have waded in?
Sing Sing isn't in NYC. Rikers Island is though. I can see it from my living room window in the distance, it looks dismal.
But of course it's not really true in that none of the original structure remains of Fraunces' Tavern.
I live in the far northern tip of Manhattan (Inwood). Well, it's the far northern tip of the island - there's another neighborhood, Marble Hill, that is technically part of the borough but is physically connected to the Bronx, just north of me.
Inwood has Inwood Hill Park, which does have some beautiful old-growth forest in it, and is one of the most natural parts of the city (see attached photo - about three blocks from my apartment).
Rikers Island is synonymous with the fact of its being a large city jail site.
Your questions remind me of an acquaintance from Virginia who didn't realize there were actual supermarkets in Manhattan: "I thought everyone shopped at (those) Korean delis for everything!"
Lived for 30 years in Inwood. Across the street from my apartment (5 floor walkup; rented for $186 a month when I moved in, was $650 when I left 3 years ago)(and I could see the Hudson out the window sitting on my couch) is the park, it ends at the bay where Columbia rows, next to the Hudson. Marble Hill is the BRONX - idiot. The A train ends there and I would come up from gigs at 3 AM safely and walk up the hill. Now, of course, it's full of pouty young kids who couldn't fit into the east village. So I moved.
But we do shop at Korean delis. Where do you live anyway?
If only there were somehow a system of tubes that could answer such questions for you!
Custom House is where the old fort was. Battery Park is landfill.
Sing Sing is upstate from Manhattan, up the Hudson, i.e. up the river.
Another one here who's surprised anyone used to swim in the East River. I also walk by it every day and the current looks ferocious - very, very strong. I don't know how anyone could keep their head above water. And the water always looks green and sludgy. In the summertime it stinks. You could not pay me to swim in it, yuck!
Here is a map of what lower Manhattan looked like in 1664, when NYC was still New Amsterdam. Wall St. is at the very top, and north of that was mostly wilderness and a few farms. It's so strange to imagine the Manhattan we all know used to look like this.
OP I too am fascinated by old Manhattan, and how the island looked before it was settled. I have visited NY about 7 times and the farthest north I have been is Fort Tryon Park on the island itself. It really is a beautiful place, with wonderful old trees and views out onto the Hudson. A friend who was born on the island suggested I take the Circle Line boat tour around the whole island which I did. If you ever visit do this. You can see the tip of the island and it does have an natural area there. The whole area is magnificent especially heading up the Hudson.
Hold your nastiness, [R8], because [R4] is correct, Marble Hill is part of the borough of Manhattan ... something to do with the water flow having changed since the boundaries were established a century ago.
[R9] I'm on the west coast but lived in NYC for a few years (including Sept 11, 2001). My "ancestral family village" is Harlem as my family lived there from after the Civil War until World War I -- I felt as though I were seeing ghosts with all the building cornerstone dates! My grandmother was born across the street from (what is now) Marcus Garvey Park.
Fascinating thread. So is Inwood Park a good place to live now? Is it safe?
It is beautiful r4, but I think I would call for removing the chain link fence in an effort to make it even more natural--it really does look like a forest in the background. I am not the OP but I did inspire this thread with my questions on another thread. Also, I had read that Fraunces Tavern was extensively remodeled through the years and it is doubtful much of what George Washington knew is included in the present structure. Another tidbit I found out is that the house Washington lived in as President was in the area of the Brooklyn Bridge on the Manhattan side. Manhattan had a big fire around the time of the Revolution and British occupation which destroyed much of the original Dutch flavor of really old New York. It would be interesting though for a tour company to organize tours or walks that could point out traces of Dutch colonial New York. Essentially then, New York, although founded in the 17th century, is a 19th and 20th century city.
One tit-bit that fascinated me is that New York harbour was one of the greatest oyster fisheries in the work, and was still fished almost into living memory.
I am reading a biography of Franklin Roosevelt right now and he lived in the teens and 20s in a brownstone (?) on East 65th Street with Eleanor and his children. His mother, in addition to having their homestead in Hyde Park, had the house next to his as she financed the construction of both the houses. I have visited the Hudson Valley only a few times but I am facsinated and charmed by it from Manhattan all the way to the Adirondacks. Whenever I think of the Hudson and life along its banks I always think of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow", it sounds corny but it's true.
r20, I believe Oyster Bay, where Theodore Roosevelt lived is today a fairly healthy oyster producing area. I wonder if at least some oysters can yet be found in New York Harbor. I would be very leery of eating them, but I shouldn't wonder that at least a few could be found today.
A book dedicated to the subject of said bivalve and NYC: "The Big Oyster" by Mark Kurlansky
Why don't you walk up Broadway, over the bridge to Marble Hill from Manhattan. I don't give a fuck about what "it says" somewhere -- take a walk OVER THE BRIDGE. A bridge between one land body and another - Manhattan and the Bronx.
And the Bronx is the only borough that is on the North American mainland (so to speak). Is it true that in colonial days the East River between the Bronx and Manhattan was at times just a marsh?
From the NYTimes:
November 16, 2012
Hooked on the Bronx, Legally Manhattan’s
By SARAH HARRISON SMITH
When the construction of the Harlem River Ship Canal separated Marble Hill from the rest of Manhattan in 1895, the little neighborhood, perched on a high mound of Inwood marble, was suddenly surrounded by water as if by a moat. Two decades later, when Spuyten Duyvil Creek, to its north, was filled in, Marble Hill joined the mainland Bronx. The hill’s identity, however, remained defiantly — irrationally, even — linked to its past, and it continues to be legally part of the borough of Manhattan. And while two train lines make it easily accessible today, the topographical and cartographic oddity feels like what it once was: an island unto itself.
FORGET THE MANHATTAN GRID. Here, streets, and even buildings, curve around the hill’s peak. On Marble Hill Avenue, the Richard Alexander House, built in 1894 for a real estate agent who helped facilitate the community’s first housing boom, is a Tudorish one-off that seems to be seeking a shady copse and a herd of roe deer. Instead, its neighbors are low-rise apartment buildings and rambling — in some cases, run-down — Victorian houses with porches and gables.
DURING THE REVOLUTION, Marble Hill was valued for its excellent views over tactically important bridges connecting Manhattan and the Bronx, bridges that George Washington’s troops retreated over after the Battle of Harlem Heights. When Hessian troops took the hill in 1776, they called their post Fort Prince Charles, after the Duke of Brunswick, a Prussian married to George III’s sister. A vestige of the name remains in Fort Charles Place.
THE HARLEM RIVER SHIP CANAL allowed boats to travel all the way around Manhattan and significantly shortened the route from the Hudson River to Long Island Sound. Its construction drew German and Irish immigrants in the final years of the 19th century. In 1897, Alexander McMillan Welch, an architect who restored the Dyckman Farmhouse and Hamilton Grange in northern Manhattan, built a grand redwood-shingled church with a square tower and a north-facing rose window here. That church, St. Stephen’s, once looked over Spuyten Duyvil Creek.
THE 1920S BROUGHT large apartment buildings. Some, like 135 West 225th street, took advantage of elevated views over the canal. Designed by Horace Ginsbern in 1937, with corner casement windows to catch sunlight, the Art Moderne building offered elegant details, like the ornate metalwork door and the stained glass in the lobby, to attract the middle class.
IN 1948, THE CITY BOUGHT about 16 acres at the foot of the hill and built the 14- and 15-story redbrick Marble Hill Houses, increasing the population of the area and changing the greater neighborhood — still roughly defined by the Spuyten Duyvil Creek bed — significantly. It is still changing: Broadway, under the shadow of the train tracks, was once the area’s primary shopping strip, but recent development spreading east along the riverfront has brought chain restaurants and department stores.
AFTER EXPLORING MARBLE HILL, it is worth venturing north to the old Telephone Building at West 230th Street and Kingsbridge Avenue. Above its fanlight door sit two Greek-costumed figures, each grasping the separate parts of an early-20th-century candlestick phone. The advent of that technology must have made a world of difference to the residents of this lofty, idiosyncratic and still-somewhat-isolated area.
This is a great book about the Dutch settling Manhattan.
Thank you, r5/9 for saying Korean "delis." Clueless non-natives will no knowledge of the origin, think every corner grocery or deli is a "bodega."
I know two people who live in Marble Hill, they have 212 area codes on their land lines. It IS Manhattan, bridge or not.
I went kayaking off of chelsea piers last summer. While technically not swimming in the Hudson, certainly was saturated by Hudson's waters... I was pleasantly surprised by not only how clean it was, but how warm it was. Fun.
And, PS, the waterway between Marble Hill and Northern Manhattan was moved to create the separation. So that area of the Bronx was at one time physically connected to Manhattan and is still considered Manhattan for many purposes.
Roosevelt Island, on the other hand, totally separate, never connected, etc is a part of Manhattan, even sharing the 212 area code.
Roosevelt Island uses a Manhattan (100) ZIP Code. They're 10044.
What do you have to say now, R8/R24?
[quote]Roosevelt Island uses a Manhattan (100) ZIP Code. They're 10044.
And yet, it feels like a whole different world. Does anyone live there?
Until 1963 "New York, NY" was the mailing address for Manhattan and the Bronx. When ZIP Codes were created Manhattan remained "New York, NY 100+." The northern borough became "Bronx NY 104+"
r24 "Walk Over The Bridge" was a big hit for "The Singing Rage" Miss Patti Page.
[quote]Has anyone been to the very northernmost tip of Manahattan? Does it contain some of the last truly natural area of Manhattan?
The logic of this eludes me, despite the fact that it happens to be the case due to Inwood Hill Park. The rest of the northern tip (excluding Marble Hill) is part of Columbia University used for athletics, including Columbia's football stadium, and the Medical School.
I was thrown reading a book about traveling in Argentina where the author mentioned spend time visiting various "bodegas" - he meant wineries, but the image I got was lurching from one 7-11 to the next!
r29, Area Code 212 landlines don't exist in Marble Hill. Your friends may have a 212 number through the cable company known as VOIP (Voice Internet Protocol). Service that dies when the electric fails. Landlines are powered by batteries in the central office.
Moat guys don't even count up that high
Who is buried in Grant's tomb?
Some swimmers have circled Manhattan here and there, but neither river is really fit for swimming (too dirty).
The farthest north I've ever been in on foot in Manhattan was 207th, the end of the A train. It was a nice area. The subway is buried way underground there.
Marbill Hill, as pointed out, was originally connected to Manhattan, but the shipping cnal and filling in the creek changed that.
Roosevelt Island is considered part of Manhattan.
I saw a documentary that said that Indians who set the path for Broadway and that it it's the same as it was when they used to travel it.
Correct, R45. I've always found the history of NYC to be so interesting:
Broadway was originally the Wickquasgeck Trail, carved into the brush destination of Manhattan by its Native American inhabitants. This trail originally snaked through swamps and rocks along the length of Manhattan Island. Upon the arrival of the Dutch, the trail soon became the main road through the island from Nieuw Amsterdam at the southern tip. The Dutch explorer and entrepreneur David de Vries gives the first mention of it in his journal for the year 1642 ("the Wickquasgeck Road over which the Indians passed daily"). The Dutch named the road "Heerestraat".
R46, I'm with you about finding the history of NYC fascinating, thank you for the additional info on Broadway. I have another documentary New York The Center of the World that talked about the Dutch settlers and how when the World Trade Center was being built, they found parts of ships/buildings that dated back to the New Amsterdam days - I love this stuff.
Doesn't Broadway somehow eventually merge with Route 9 which in turn follows the Hudson River and then continues on to the Canadian border?
Another tidbit about Native American paths and trails is that they often made them out of paths or trails animals naturally took, the Indians sort of improved on them and if the Europeans used them, which they did in many cases, they often turned them into roads which sometimes became the highways of today. I believe I once read (John R. Swanton's book on Native North Americans??) that the Native Americans who lived on Manhattan who "sold" it to the Dutch eventually sort of drifted out to other areas and that the Ramapo Mountain people in New Jersey (who are intermixed with African ancestry as well as white, usually Dutch) and the Poospatuck and Shinnecock people out on Long Island are partly descended from them. I believe they were called the Canarsees. There was a Native presence in what is now Brooklyn until well into the 1820s, aside from the other groups of Native Americans who may live there today.
Do you still live in Manhattan, or not, R8?
The movie DEAD END with Humphrey Bogart shows kids swimming in the East River - the original "Dead End Kids", later known as the Bowery Boys. The movie depicts the area where millionare's townhouses butt up against run down tenements.
r8 is kind of an idiot.
New York: A Documentary Film was made around the year 2000 and covers the entire history of the city from 1608 until the end of the 20th century. It's over 17 hours (!) long, but if you have the patience it's worth watching. All the parts are at this youtube link.
Anyone interested in 1609 New York has to get this book -- "Mannahatta." Full of fascinating aerial-view recreations of the island in the year the Dutch arrived, juxtaposed against what those places look like now.
Apropos of what R64 said, there is a plaque outside the The Ear Inn bar, on Spring Street, between Greenwich and Washington, that marks the original water line of the island. It's crazy how far the plaque is from the 2012 water line (unless Sandy is visiting).
Beginning in the 1600s Trinity Church owned many acres of lower Manhattan real estate. Street names reflect their ownership - Vestry, Rector, Trinity, Church and Vesey (their first rector, pronounced VEE-see.)
Today Trinity Real Estate owns 20+ office buildings between Houston and Canal, Hudson River to Sixth Avenue, which they market as Hudson Square.
Here's what NYC originally looked like, before the Dutch and English arrived. It was pure wilderness.
Interesting view r69, I can almost visualize Central Park in the middle, but I wonder if there are any really old trees in Central Park that date from the time of the Dutch; did Olmstead save any if there were and can be found today?
I read, I think in the New Yorker magazine quite some time ago that Manhattan had numerous little brooks and streams quite a few of which became incorporated into the sewer system. Could there be any streams left anywhere on the island? Is there any of the original natural shoreline left (maybe the northern part along the Hudson??)?
R72, the shape of Minetta Lane in the Village corresponds to the banks of Minetta Creek. That's why it curves.
R4, if I could live in New York, I'd love to live in Inwood. Seems to have an entirely different character from the rest of Manhattan.
Here's another good NYC documentary from the National Geographic Channel - this is about the building of all of NYC's bridges.
R66, thanks for that link.
r76, I live in San Diego but have visited Manhattan a number of times through the years; since I am not visiting anytime soon I wonder if you can tell me, sort of "in a nutshell" what you have in mind regarding 125th St. Is there an actual creek or stream there? Interesting post BTW, r73, I'm going to try and find out more about Minetta Creek.
OP, sort of
I looked up Minetta Creek on Wikipedia and found a fairly good article on it if anyone is interested. Apparently it still flows underground and occasionally floods basements nearby (not including Hurricane Sandy). Its source was a spring (still flowing underground??) underneath Washington Square. Minetta Creek, in its day, was known for its trout fishing but was pretty much buried or somehow "tubed" in the early 19th century as New York City began spreading northward on Manhattan Island. Minetta, although sounding vaguely Italian is actually a corruption of the orininal Dutch name Minetje.
Tell us about Manhattanville, the valley between Morningside and Harlem Heights. Is it a cool place to sojourn?
It's hipper than Jersey City
OP At 125th St. you can see the historic