Walks in New York and elsewhere

My comments on buildings, shops, restaurants that catch my eye as I wander around New York City and other places.

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Location: New York, New York, United States

Sunday, September 03, 2006

125th Street, 5

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St. Joseph of the Holy Family Church, 1860, Henry Engelbert, is probably the oldest church in the area. (n.b. The AIA Guide incorrectly attributes it to Herter Bros, 1889.)

We are now approaching Manhattanville, once a separate village between Harlem and Bloomingdale, centered on what is now 125th Street and Broadway. The section of 125th Street that goes off at an angle was originally known as Manhattan Street. Its direction was determined by topography. The street followed a valley between what is now Morningside Heights and Hamilton Heights. It became 125th Street only in 1920. The original 125th Street was renamed LaSalle Street at the same time. We will continue walking on the current 125th Street.

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A large public housing complex fills the south side of the street for several blocks.

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On the grounds is a small butterfly garden.

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A nice branch of the New York Public Library is convenient, too, as well as a branch of Citarella, one of NYC's best fish stores.

On Old Broadway, which crosses 125th here, is another reminder that this area once had a large Jewish population. The congregation is older than its building, which dates from 1923, by Meisner & Uffner. IMG_2283 (Small)

Old Broadway was originally known as Bloomingdale Road.

There are two steel viaducts spanning the valley, one for the IRT subway, IMG_2286 (Small)
which was extended to northern Manhattan in 1904 and

one for Riverside Drive.
IMG_2302 (Small) The building in the background was a Studebaker service center. The former car manufacturer's graphic motifs are still visible on the tower. The building was constructed in 1923, designed by an engineering firm from Cincinnati, W.S. Ferguson and incorporating the ioneering reinforced concrete construciton techniques developed by automotive architect Albert Kahn. Broadway, in Manhattanville, was a important auto row prior to WWII. The building is owned by Columbia University as is

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the former Sheffield Dairy Building, now Prentis Hall. Columbia owns many buildings in this area and is in the process of acquiring more for its proposed expansion northward of its main campus at 116th Street and Broadway. The university has said that it is committed to relocating people who will be losing their homes, but many small businesses will no doubt disappear altogether.
Paste the following link into your browser http://neighbors.columbia.edu/pages/manplanning/index.html
to see the University's rationale and details of the plan. The 18 acres that Columbia plans to take over are not heavily populated by New York standards, nor is there much obvious charm. Nevertheless, there are understandable objections on the part of the community to the loss of its neighborhood and of historic fabric. Columbia is planning to maintain the old street pattern.

In addition to automobile-related businesses, the area was a meat-packing center. Not much remains IMG_2297 (Small)

In the meantime, there's Dinosaur Barbeque IMG_2298 (Small)

The Fairway store is several blocks north of here. Don't be fooled by the sign for it
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or by a nightclub that calls itself The Cotton Club.
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It has the same name, but is not related to the original club, which was at 142nd and Lenox Avenue.

125th Street offers the walker only a tiny taste of Harlem, one of the richest neighborhoods in New York in culture, history and architecture.

Sources for 125th Street

To check dates and names of architects, these sources were helpful

White and Wilensky, AIA Guide to New York City
Historic Preservation Program of Columbia University, 1996-7
Preservation Plan for Hamilton Heights/ Manhattanville,
David Dunlap, Glory in Gotham: Manhattan’s Houses of Worship,
Michael Henry Adams, Harlem, Lost and Found

As always, any opinions are my own.