Rare Postcards Of The Upper West Side And Harlem 1900 – 1915
Most old postcards depicting turn of the century New York City usually show the typical tourist attractions, landmarks and notable buildings of the city.
It was uncommon for the big postcard manufacturers to produce postcards of average streets, buildings or scenes in New York City for people to send to their friends back home. After all who wanted to see an apartment building on 117th Street and Seventh Avenue?
That is what makes these scenes of New York City and upper Manhattan rather unique. They feature the areas not frequented by tourists. They are photographs, rather than illustrations, and were typically produced in small quantities by smaller or unnamed card manufacturers. The absence of vehicles and people on the streets belies the rapid housing development that occurred in upper Manhattan during the time. Click on any postcard to enlarge.
Euclid Hall Apartments 2349 Broadway, northwest corner of Broadway and 86th Street. This view shows the Euclid Hall Apartments which was built in 1903 by Hill and Turner is a heavily ornamented seven story red brick building. It is still standing and the ground floor has been modernized and now houses commercial businesses.
The William Apartments looking west at 243 West 98th Street, northwest corner of Broadway and 98th Street. The William, a seven story building was completed in 1899 and is currently a condominium. To the right of The William behind the trees is the Arragon at 2611 Broadway. An April 2013 listing at The William has a fifth floor, three bedroom, two bath apartment for sale with an asking price of $975,000.
Manhattan Avenue looking northwest between 105th and 106th Streets. Many of the small private rowhouses are still in existence, though many have been modified to multi-unit apartments. The original postcard photograph was inverted. We corrected the view in this image.
Broadway looking north from 109th street (actually from 108th Street). The Manhasset is the block-through 11 story building closest on the left. It has 3 addresses: 2801-2825 Broadway, 301 West 108th Street and 300 West 109th Street Originally designed by Joseph Wolf in 1899- 1901 and enlarged by architects James & Leo in 1904, this Beaux Arts co-op was designated a landmark in 1996.
The seven story building behind The Manhasset is The Beauclere which stood at 301 West 109th Street on the northwest corner. Built in 1901, it featured seven and eight room apartments. Legendary New York Giants baseball manager John J. McGraw lived in the building in the teens and 1920’s. On August 8, 1920, after a wild night at the Lambs Club, actor John C. Slavin was nearly beaten to death in front of the building and McGraw was accused of fracturing Slavin’s skull. McGraw was never tried for the assault, but was sued for $25,000 for damages by Slavin. The Beauclare was demolished many years ago.
Further in the distance the 12 story building with the “x” marked over it is 601 West 110th Street (Cathedral Parkway). It was designed by Rouse and Sloane in 1908 as an annex to the luxury building at 380 Riverside Drive, The Henderik Hudson Apartment House. The space is currently being leased by Barnard College and the building is now known as the College Residence Hall.
The Graham Court Apartments 1923 -1937 Seventh Avenue (now Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd.) looking east between 116th and 117th Street. Financed by William Waldorf Astor and constructed between 1899-1901 by architects Clinton and Russell, Graham Court is considered one of Harlem’s most beautiful buildings. With eight floors and just under 100 mostly large apartments, the exterior of the building was given landmark status by the city in 1984. For many years Graham Court suffered from an epidemic of drug dealers operating out of the building. The past few years Graham Court has rebounded, as has Harlem as a whole, and these apartments rarely come to market.
Seventh Avenue looking northeast from 117th street. This view shows the apartment houses at 1939 – 1953 Seventh Avenue (Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard), just up the block from Graham Court. The apartment buildings exteriors have only been slightly modified over the past 100 years with some cornice removals and corner business stores added.
The Cromwell Annex 604 – 608 Riverside Drive between 137th and 138th Street. This view looking east also shows The Cromwell Apartments (right) which run the length of 137th Street from Broadway to Riverside Drive, adjacent to the six story Cromwell Annex on the left. Both were constructed by builders and developers Bing and Bing and designed in the English Renaissance style by famed architect Emory Roth.
The Isabella Home 190th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. It was established in 1875 as The Isabella Heimath, an old age home to care for indigent persons over the age of 60. According to King’s New York (1892) the old age home also possessed a hospital consisting of 176 beds which was free of charge. But, “consumptives or patients suffering from infectious diseases, epileptics, idiots, and those requiring constant personal attendance, cannot be admitted.” The original structure shown here was demolished in the 1970’s, but The Isabella Home continues its mission into the 21st century in modern buildings straddling four acres at 190th Street and Audubon and Amsterdam Avenues.
Hazel Court, 221 Sherman Avenue southwest corner of 207th Street. This view looking west at Hazel Court a brick building built circa 1900. To the left of Hazel Court is Inwood Court, 130 Post Avenue, also built around the same time in a similar style. In the background, the IRT subway elevated station can be seen on the left side. The Inwood neighborhood was among the last areas to be developed with apartment complexes, as evidenced by the many adjacent vacant lots. Even as the subway came through this area in 1906, there were still some farms in operation around here.