info 04.17.17

Carnegie Hill

Manhattan got its name from the Native Americans, who called the place Manna-hatta, which meant "hilly island." Carnegie Hill is among the hilliest parts. The village of the 60 or so Weckquaesgeek Indians who settled here is now buried beneath the pavement around Park Avenue and 98th Street. The Dutch and English were slow to settle this area (and quick to draw the Weckquaesgeeks into conflict) because the area was too hilly for farming.

Transportation improvements—the first being the NY and Harlem Railroad and then the announcement of the 3rd Avenue El in 1868, started the biggest development of much of the East Side. It didn't happen quickly though: when Andrew Carnegie, in 1898, bought the land between East 90th and 91st, squatters were living on it as they did on many of the undeveloped plots. His mansion encourage other wealthy New Yorkers to move north. The houses in the area became more elegant and even today, the feel of French chateaux is evident in many of the designs.

Carnegie Hill is, roughly, 86th to 98th from 5th to 3rd, but the Carnegie Hill Historic District is far more specific.

Andrew Carnegie and his wife moved into the house they built at 2 East 91st in 1902. Carnegie died in 1919, Mrs. Carnegie lived there until she passed away in 1946. It's now, of course, now the Cooper-Hewitt. Around the corner, the 90th Street Pharmacy was established in 1890 and retains some of its other-era air. The Marx Brothers childhood home was at 179 E. 93rd Street. A bid to landmark the building failed.

Be sure to walk by 120, 122, and 160 East 92nd—landmarked frame houses on the south side built in 1859, 1871, and 1852 respectively. These clapboards are complete anomalies in today's New York landscape, but how inviting they are! There's another at 128 East 93rd. [Image of 120 and 122 East 92nd: Americasroof]

The Corner Bookstore, 1313 Mad [93rd] 212.831.3554, is, in many ways, the heart of the neighborhood. With its pressed-tin ceiling, wood shelving, park-like benches for reading, old-fashioned cash register, well-chosen selection of books, and knowledgeable staff, it's a model of its kind.

The Armory, between 94th and 95th is among the most distinctive landmarks in the area. It's the facade of the Squadron A, 8th Regiment, which was built in 1895 and is in the Romanesque Revival style, with arches, towers, turrets, and parapets. The original purpose of the building was to house some dragoons: the First New York Hussars. Its remains, designated in the '60s, are part of the school yard belonging to Hunter College schools. [Image: Gryffindor]

Carnegie Hill is also, it hardly needs pointing out, home to the lion's share of Museum Mile.

More on all things CH at the Carnegie Hill Neighbors site.


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