This blog was written by Pam Tice, a member of the Bloomingdale Neighborhood History Group’s Planning Committee.
In this summer of 2017 as we prepare for the solar eclipse on August 21, a recent reference to the 1925 eclipse in The New York Times and the importance of our Bloomingdale neighborhood inspired further research. This event, known as the Upper Manhattan Eclipse, did not occur in the heat of summer, but on a freezing, cold day: January 24, 1925.
Predictions of the path of a solar eclipse were pretty accurate by 1925, but not perfect. Ancient societies—including the Babylonians, the Chinese, and the Maya—had developed the ability to predict solar eclipse patterns, but it wasn’t until 1715 that astronomer Sir Edmond Halley made his critical breakthrough, using Isaac Newton’s law of gravity. This achievement enabled predictions of exactly where the eclipse would occur and how long it would last at that point.
Local writer Marjorie Cohen, member of the planning group of the Bloomingdale Neighborhood History Group, wrote this post for Brick Underground (https://www.brickunderground.com/) which has given us permission to reproduce it here.
When Brian Hartig and his husband first bought a brownstone in Bed-Stuy and set about the process of renovating it, almost immediately "things started falling out of the walls," he recalls. "We were finding them under the floor boards." The "things," it turned out, were artifacts left behind by the families who had lived in the house before them.
"I had a regular curio cabinet full of objects by the time we were done," he says, including Victorian children's blocks from the 1890s, a shoe catalog, and an old receipt dating back to the 1910s. These random finds sparked Hartig’s interest in the history of his new home, and he started to research it in earnest, ultimately finding records showing that the property was farmland the 1700s and owned by Jacobus van de Water, mayor of New Amsterdam in 1673.
These days, Hartig does this kind of research for a living at his company, Brownstone Detectives, taking requests from clients who want to know more about their homes, doing the research for them, and putting it all into a book at the end of the process. "Clients tell me what they want to know and I get to follow the clues….We’ve uncovered stories of Baseball Hall of Famers, murderers, Civil War heroes, unexplained fires, explosions, deceit, corruption, unrequited love, and much, much more."
Starting your own search
If you're interested in uncovering details about your own home—from when it was built, to what your neighborhood used to look like, to who used to live there—the city has a surprising number of resources available for armchair history buffs.
This is the sixth in a series of pieces written on places that used to be in the Bloomingdale neighborhood, written by Pam Tice, a member of the Bloomingdale Neighborhood History Group’s Planning Committee. Thanks go to Chuck Tice and Marjorie Cohen as editors.
New York’s City’s restaurant history is a popular topic for many social historians. They have traced New York’s history of famous restaurants from the 1830s Delmonico’s on the corner of Beaver and William Streets, (moving twice as the city grew), to the lobster palaces of Times Square, to the bohemian dining of Greenwich Village. Worked into this panoply is the history of a developing middle class, the creation of social spaces where women could meet outside the home, the development of dining places for the growing office workforce of New York, and the growing acceptance of the food and cooking of the millions of immigrants who came to the city.
On June 7, 2016, the Bloomingdale Neighborhood History Group presented a program about political activism on the Upper West Side in the 1960s and 70s. The main speaker was Rose Muzio, Professor of Politics at SUNY Old Westbury and author of Radical Imagination, Radical Humanity: Puerto Rican Political Activism in New York. The program was rich in detail. The following is a summary of some of that program based on notes I took during the presentations.
— Jay Hauben
This is the fifth in a series of pieces on something that no longer exists in our Bloomingdale neighborhood. The author, Pam Tice, is a member of the Bloomingdale Neighborhood History Group’s Planning Committee.
For a short period, perhaps less than five years, West 110th Street became an entertainment district known as “Little Coney Island.” The story of its development and demise is a New York story with real estate, politics, the Police Department, vice and corruption, changing social values, and class conflict.
The Upper West Side rapidly developed in the last two decades of the 19th century and the first two of the 20th century. Very quickly, sparsely placed wood-frame houses were replaced by brownstones and tenements, and, over time, larger and larger apartment buildings. Development initially followed the new El train, spreading out from the station stops as land was sold and developed.
A map of the musical history of Bloomingdale was recently created by Vita Wallace of the Bloomingdale Neighborhood History Group’s Planning Committee. The map is posted here, along with commentary from Vita and photos of a recent BNHG Program that presented the rich heritage of our musical neighborhood
THE MAP (scroll down for Spanish version)
This is the fourth in a series of pieces by Pam Tice, member of the Planning Committee of the Bloomingdale Neighborhood History Group, covering buildings that no longer exist in our neighborhood.
The Home for the Relief of the Destitute Blind – How an institution was founded, and came to live in our neighborhood.
From the mid-1880s, this beautiful red brick building stood at the corner of Amsterdam Avenue and 104th Street for more than thirty years, housing blind men and women in The Home for the Relief of Destitute Blind.
This post is written by local historian Jim Mackin based on his presentation for the Bloomingdale Neighborhood History group on November 16, 2015. The topic covers two of our themes: the medical history of the Bloomingdale neighborhood, and another building that (almost) is no longer in existence.
Jim Mackin is a member of the BNHG’s Planning Committee, presenting popular presentations on behalf of the group, as well as leading monthly neighborhood history walking tours.
It all began in 1769. Two students were graduating with medical degrees from King’s College. 28-year old Dr Samuel Bard gave the commencement speech that so moved city leaders that enough funds were pledged to establish a hospital. In 1776, New York Hospital became the 3rd oldest hospital when it opened just in time to treat some rag-tag colonials wounded by shot from British men-of-war ships moving up the Hudson.
Mentally ill patients were treated from the very beginning of the hospital along with all other patients. But the number of mentally ill patients was rising greatly. In 1802 a committee was formed to consider an addition to the building, and any other planning, to accommodate the increase of what were the called “lunatics.” But more radical action was taken by the establishment of a separate and new department in the hospital to accommodate mentally ill patients, and the construction of a separate and new asylum building in 1808. This asylum of 80 beds was the only one of its kind in New York State.
New approaches to treatment of the mentally ill by Dr Pinel in Paris and William Tuke who established the Retreat for the Insane in York, England. Patients were to be no longer kept in seclusion, let alone in chains. Treatment was becoming understood as “moral” instead of “medical”. The changes had sweeping implications: patients were “visited” and physical activity for patients was encouraged.
A committee consisting of Thomas Eddy, John R Murray, John Aspinwall, Thomas Buckley, Cadwallader Colden, and Peter A Jay decided on a site in Bloomingdale for a new and separate institution for the treatment of the mentally ill. They purchased land from Gerald DePeyster on what is now where Columbia University resides in Morningside Heights. The cornerstone for the Bloomingdale Insane Asylum was laid on May 7th, 1818 and the building was officially opened on June 1st, 1821. This is how it appeared on the early Randel Farm Maps (1818-1820):
This is the third in a series of pieces by Pam Tice about buildings no longer standing in the Bloomingdale neighborhood; it was also the subject of an October 5, 2015, BNHG presentation by medical historian Bert Hansen, Professor at Baruch College, part of the BNHG’s series on medical institutions in our neighborhood. Dr. Hansen’s book is listed in the “Sources” section below. The book received awards by the American Library Association and by the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association.
Our thanks to Dr. Hansen for reading our draft and suggesting changes.
Written by Pam Tice, member of the BNHG Planning Committee
Until the late 19th century, a dog bite was one of the most fearful things that could happen to you. If the dog were rabid, and you showed symptoms, you were sure to die a painful death. An infectious disease in mammals, rabies (lyssavirus) is transmitted through the saliva just a few days before death when the animal “sheds” the virus. Because it affects the central nervous system, most rabid animals behave abnormally. The disease still exists in the United States today, especially in the northeast in raccoons, but most dogs today are vaccinated. Humans, if thought exposed, can get a treatment far easier than the one first devised.
This is the second post of a series on Bloomingdale neighborhood places that no longer exist. It was written by Pam Tice, member of the Bloomingdale Neighborhood History Group Planning Committee.
When John Randel made his 1818-1820 Farm Maps, he mapped a house on a Bloomingdale hill smack in the middle at what would become 104th Street and Columbus/Ninth Avenue.