Broadway & 80th Street 1898 and 1928
What A Difference 30 Years Makes
Up until the late 1800’s Broadway above 59th Street still retained much of its sleepy Dutch ways and was still called the Boulevard which followed the course of the Old Bloomingdale Road. The upper west side neighborhoods had their own unique character which were based upon the villages of Harsenville, Striker’s Bay, Bloomingdale and Manhattanville.
In the photo above from 1898 we see the Boulevard looking north and west from 80th Street with horses lined up along the curb. Building is sparse with low profile two and three story buildings. Commercial structures might contain blacksmith’s, grocery shops and tailors. Open land and farms were still nearby. In thirty years the change would be striking.
Land speculation and the coming of the subway would end the ruralness of the area.
This photograph taken in 1928 from the median of Broadway and 80th Street and looking in the same direction as the previous photo shows that almost everything from 1898 has vanished.
We see automobiles, but no horses. The trees that lined the street are gone and there is quite a bit of pedestrian activity along the street. Commercial stores line Broadway and 80th Street to the west and the north. The white building in the foreground is still standing today and now contains Zabar’s.
The district that made up most of the west side from about 23rd street to the 130’s was called by its generic name of Bloomingdale (a vale of flowers in Dutch). During the 18th and 19th century Bloomingdale village retreated northwards until it was centered around 100th Street with about 20 houses.
Cartographer William Wade wrote of the Bloomingdale district in his Panorama of the Hudson River, (1846) “The scattered village of Bloomingdale, presenting to the curious eye a pleasant aspect in the Orphan Asylum, with its green lawn extending to the water’s edge, and surrounded by a grove.”
Hopper Striker Mott said of Bloomingdale “It has been with reason described as the watering-place of the elite of New York, the resort of all distinguished strangers from abroad, and the Newport of that part of the city’s history extending from the period of Dutch farms to its metamorphosis into metropolitan grandeur. And then the Hudson! Never was there a more beautiful shore. For the most part bold and rocky, here and there a sandy beach in some little cove was encountered, shaded by branching chestnuts and maples, upon the shelving sands of which the ripples made music most inviting to the bather on a midsummer day.”
If you want to find out more about the villages that made up the upper west side, Mott’s rare book (only 500 were published), is the lengthily titled The New York of Yesterday; A Descriptive Narrative of Old Bloomingdale, its Topographical Features, its Early Families and Their Genealogies, its Old Homesteads and Country-Seats, its French Invasion, and its War Experiences Considered in Their Relation to its First Religious Society, the Bloomingdale Reformed Church, Organized in 1805. Incorporated in 1806 as the Church at Harsenville by Hopper Striker Mott (1908) G.P. Putnam’s, meticulously detailed, historical reading.