Cultural Immigrant Initiative of Landmark West

This Exhibit is made possible with generous support from the Cultural Immigrant Initiative.  LANDMARK WEST! especially thanks New York City Council Member Ben Kallos.  Initially begun in 2020, we are excited to expand They Were Here as an inside-landmarks/on-the-Avenue exhibition. They Were Here launches on Columbus Avenue Friday, June 4th, 2021–come visit us and you can say You Were There too!

Find out more about the rich history of the immigrants who lived and worked on Columbus Avenue. Scroll through the map below and click on any blue highlighted area. Want to dive deeper? Click “Read More” from the pop up window. Interested in a particular address? Click on the corresponding red circle below the map to get right to the full story.
They Were Here
541 Columbus Ave.529 Columbus Ave.519 Columbus Ave.508-516 Columbus Ave.505 Columbus Ave.504 Columbus Ave.493 Columbus Ave.464 Columbus Ave.441-449 Columbus Ave.440 Columbus Ave.426 Columbus Ave.424 Columbus Ave.410 Columbus Ave.392 Columbus Ave.380 Columbus Ave.370 Columbus Ave.351 Columbus Ave.331 Columbus Ave.328 Columbus Ave.321 Columbus Ave.320 Columbus Ave.305-307 Columbus Ave.302 Columbus Ave.301 Columbus Ave.289 Columbus Ave.280 Columbus Ave.261 Columbus Ave.248 Columbus Ave.240 Columbus Ave.235 Columbus Ave.201 Columbus Ave.190 Columbus Ave.189 Columbus Ave.180-188 Columbus Ave.157 Columbus Ave.249 Columbus Ave.100 West 67th Street451-457 Columbus Ave.306-316 Columbus Ave.461-475 Columbus Ave.428 Columbus Ave.360 Columbus Ave.540-546 Columbus Ave.549-555 Columbus Ave.528-534 Columbus Ave.520-526 Columbus Ave.191-199 Columbus Ave.210-216 Columbus Ave.225 Columbus Ave.260-268 Columbus Ave.313 Columbus Ave.309-311 Columbus Ave.509-517 Columbus Ave.286 Columbus Ave.281 Columbus Ave.270-276 Columbus Ave.548-556 Columbus Ave.501-503 Columbus Ave.460 Columbus Ave.432 Columbus Ave.418-422 Columbus Ave.341-349 Columbus Ave.322-326 Columbus Ave.220-228 Columbus Ave.171-179 Columbus Ave.221-223 Columbus Ave.227-229 Columbus Ave.Block 1139230-238 Columbus Ave.101 West 66th Street59 West 65th Street304 Columbus Ave.300 Columbus Ave.483-485 Columbus Ave.430 Columbus Ave.376 Columbus Ave.269-275 Columbus Ave.Block 1214

541 Columbus Ave.

Groceries, Hats, and Poison
In the 1890's, the corner shop here was Charles Hartman’s furniture business. The center store was Arndt & Wiesner grocers, and at the north end was Emma Jarden's millinery. Two brothers from Italy, Joseph and Mauro, then opened Sabatelli Brothers' barber shop near Morris Malbroau's corner butcher shop in 1916.
READ MORE

529 Columbus Ave.

The Countess, the Piano King & The Party Box
A resident here, German immigrant Josef Kuder, was a master piano maker. After studying the craft in Vienna, he came to New York in 1854 and in 1872 co-founded Sohmer & Co. At that time, there were 170 other piano manufacturers in NYC.
READ MORE

519 Columbus Ave.

Butter & Eggs Below; Shooting Showgirl Above
Charles Nagel and his wife were living here in 1911 when they became the focus of intense public scrutiny.  Newspapers nationwide covered the story of the attempted murder of millionaire W. E. D. Stokes, owner of the Ansonia Hotel, by two chorus girls, one of whom was the Nagel’s daughter. They were called “The Shooting Show Girls.” The Nagels moved.
READ MORE

508-516 Columbus Ave.

The Louise: Money Woes and a Slice to Go
The Louise, completed in 1894, is a five-story assembly of flats with storefront space along Columbus Avenue designed and built by the prolific John G. Prague, who moved his firm’s operations in the same year the building opened to residents. Prague’s year at The Louise was an unhappy one, marred by financial failures. The Evening World suggested that Prague owed somewhere in the neighborhood of $400,000 to $430,000 (over $1 million today when adjusted for inflation). Perhaps this public pocketbook shaming led Prague to settle his operations miles away at the island’s southern tip, distancing himself from the Upper West Side enclave he had helped to build.
READ MORE

505 Columbus Ave.

A Landmark for Women's Suffrage
Each year on Election Day the city leased 507 Columbus Avenue as a polling place. In 1918 this humble building drew special attention when women registered to vote for the first time. On May 26, 1918 The Sun reported, “Miss Mary Garrett Hay, chairman of the Woman Suffrage party…was the first votress to enroll in her district. The place was a furniture store at 507 Columbus avenue and the time four minutes at 8 A. M.” Joining Mary Hay was Carrie Chapman Catt whom The New York Herald said, “has waited thirty years for the privilege of casting her ballot.”
READ MORE

504 Columbus Ave.

Fire, Films and a Fraud
Residents of 504 Columbus Ave. included May Atzbach who made waves when she was reportedly cured of her deafness onstage by Darius Wilson, M.D., a physician who proclaimed himself to be the greatest aurist of his (or any) time. Dr. Wilson was praised at the time for offering health insurance to immigrants, despite his dubious claim that he had found the solution to hearing loss. His displays of aural wizardry were popular events and well-attended by eager crowds clamoring to see the medical showman theatrically undo permanent ailments.
READ MORE

493 Columbus Ave.

The Corner Drugstore
The corner storefront here was home in the 1890s to Baluff’s Pharmacy, the first of a long string of drugstores in the space. It was operated by German immigrant Charles Wittenack. The next proprietor, immigrant Max Weiss, unluckily had his shop raided by police in 1904. It seems his associate was counterfeiting aspirin.
READ MORE

464 Columbus Ave.

A Solid Home for Single Ladies
Several single working women called this 1887 building home. There was Luella Know, who ran a shoe store and Miss Sarah Schreier who had a hat shop here in 1904. In 1894, Cynthia Westover arrived, a self-sufficient young woman, private secretary to the Commissioner of Street Cleaning. Her experience hiring a maid, procured through the Children’s Aid Society, taught her much about the lives of poor immigrant families in New York.
READ MORE

441-449 Columbus Ave.

Hotel Colonial: High-End Luxury and Low-Life Criminals
Built 1903-1905, the 125-unit Hotel Colonial was advertised upon completion as being “ABSOLUTELY FIREPROOF” with furnished or unfurnished suites of one-, two-, or three-bedrooms. Unfortunately it wasn't burglar-proof. Either way, the $1 Table d'Hote Dinner was a steal!
READ MORE

440 Columbus Ave.

Check out the Hotel Endicott
In 1890 “family hotel” apartments such as the Endicott were very popular, offering suites of up to nine rooms. Residents enjoyed all the latest amenities of steam heat, electric lights, and even a resident doctor. There were seven storefronts on Columbus, including an elegant Victorian drugstore with marble floors and mahogany cabinetry. There was not a single vacancy the day the Endicott opened.
READ MORE

426 Columbus Ave.

The Protective League and the Poolroom
In 1893 Clarence True designed this building as Hennessy’s oyster market and restaurant. He used iron spot brick, brownstone and terra cotta to mimic a Flemish stable with a large, offset archway- like the double doors of a carriage house- framing the quaint commercial space. A side entrance led upstairs to meeting rooms. In 1891 the West Side Protective League met there to suppress “gambling houses, houses of prostitution, and all persons and places of immoral character”. They ironically did not notice Costello’s billiard rooms in the space directly beneath them.
READ MORE

424 Columbus Ave.

Sheet Metal or Sheets to the Wind?
In 1899 German immigrant and architect Julius Munckwitz was hired to build a “modern” structure here. Munckwitz, who came to NYC in 1849, had worked on Central Park and was the New York Park Commission’s official architect for decades. He designed a two-story brick and stone building for two commercial tenants that included a bay window and a second story clad, uniquely, in sheet metal.
READ MORE

410 Columbus Ave.

Life in a Residence Hotel
Built in 1899, this was a 10-story “hotel”. Residence hotels were, essentially, just apartment buildings where residents ate in upscale communal dining rooms rather than in their suites. One resident was immigrant Elizabeth Ambrosy, whose parents brought her from Brandenburg, Germany, around 1870. Since her childhood she had known Eugene Landon, who grew up to be a wealthy lumber merchant. On April 3, 1906 the two were married here in the Orleans Hotel. The New-York Tribune remarked that the “wedding was quiet, only a few friends of the pair being present.” That was most likely because the groom had just divorced his wife.
READ MORE

392 Columbus Ave.

Five Houses Flip to Flats
Michael Kelly and his wife were living here in 1915 when Mrs. Kelly surprised a burglar in her room. He fled with Mrs. Kelly close behind yelling “Stop, thief!” The Tribune reported, “From Columbus to Amsterdam Avenue she chased the invader.” At Broadway the man stopped and turned his revolver on Mrs. Kelly. She did not slow down and he pulled the trigger, but the gun jammed. He dove down into the subway and onto the tracks. He did not see the express train.
READ MORE

380 Columbus Ave.

The Elegant Evelyn
Belgian immigrant and architect Emil Gruwe unveiled in 1894 a Renaissance Revival structure with corner pavilions capped with stone balustrades: The Evelyn. But it was really all about the details-- the magnificent terra cotta angels, satyrs, putti and florals. Inside were luxuries like a Russian Bath and a restaurant with Delmonico's chef.
READ MORE

370 Columbus Ave.

A New Home for New UWS Irish
This 1887 “double flat” (two buildings designed to look like one) was home to many immigrant families, predominantly Irish. In 1895 the Martin Connellan family lived on the top floor; directly below them lived the Kearns. Early shops were Mme. Hodes’ hairdressing salon and Respoli Brothers grocery in 1901.
READ MORE

351 Columbus Ave.

Zeigfeld Girls & Whist
On March 17, 1916 a patrolman was alerted by women's screams coming from this building. Investigating, he found a man holding onto a resident, Zeigfeld Follies chorus girl Margaret Randolph, while two friends battled to free her. As it turned out, Margaret was no victim; she had helped herself to $45 in cash from the gentleman's pocket.
READ MORE

331 Columbus Ave.

Fire! Twice!
Shops here in 1894 included Hayward & Reynolds plumbing, Kruse & Hodes hairdressers, and Charles Otten's corner grocery. Early on April 30, 1897 fire broke out in Otten's. Smoke poured out the windows. The night watchman was, alas, asleep on the job, but an alert patrolman smelled the smoke and rushed into the building, roused the sleeping residents and saved them all.
READ MORE

328 Columbus Ave.

Seances and Peruvian Proxies
In 1889, Dr. Henry Rogers staged fake seances in his apartment here, charging grieving customers to hear messages from their loved ones. His neighbor, Peruvian immigrant Pedro Rubio, Jr. was much more respectable, although he did run up against the City Clerk when he tried to arrange a proxy marriage for his sister to a man back in Peru.
READ MORE

321 Columbus Ave.

Elevators, Electric Light & Extortion
A 1897 ad for La Rochelle boasted of "three elevators with all-night service; electric light and steam heat free; not a dark room or closet in the house." The apartments were spacious, just four to a floor and most had three bedrooms.  The pièce de résistance: a "first-class French Restaurant on premises."
READ MORE

320 Columbus Ave.

Christmas is for the Dogs
Mrs. Katherine Fay and her daughter, Irene, lived here with their beloved Skye Terrier Teddy and, later, Chump. The dog was the guest of honor at the Fay's Christmas reception every year through 1914. The Fays invited a dozen canines, the tree was decorated with doggie edibles, and each dog received a present. The parties were reported in detail by various newspapers each year.
READ MORE

305-307 Columbus Ave.

Bicycles Ride, Bogus Checks do Not
Bicycles were a nationwide obsession in the 1890’s and the tenants here were not immune. An August 6, 1893 article on the Excelsior Cycle Club mentioned that among the “good riders” was “Mrs. I. B. Fleming, No. 305 Columbus avenue.” Her neighbor was equally passionate about biking. Mrs. J. S. Miznu signed a petition in 1895 asking the city for a dedicated bicycle path from the Upper West Side to downtown.
READ MORE

302 Columbus Ave.

The Ice Cream Depot
In 1889 successful ice cream entrepreneur James Horton hired Cleverdon & Putzel to design this five-story building faced in red brick above a cast iron storefront. Above it all, an ambitious cornice held a triangular pediment announcing the J. M. Horton name. This was a J. M. Horton Ice Cream “depot” where Victorians could stop in for a treat, but the shop also received deliveries from its Brooklyn plant, which cranked out 40 quarts of ice cream every 20 minutes.
READ MORE

301 Columbus Ave.

Communists and Carrier Pigeons
By 1910, Jewish tile layer Aaron H. David lived here. As a hobby he kept carrier pigeons in coops on the roof. That spring, however, his attentions were more focused on a young lady, Hattie Moses, the daughter of manufacturer Max Moses...
READ MORE

289 Columbus Ave.

Barnett Bros.’ Burglaring Brothers
From 1895 to 1925 this was the home of Barnett Brothers, a true department store that offered not only dry goods and apparel, but housewares, china and glass, and other items. In 1908 a burglary was foiled there. Ironically, the thieves were three brothers and it was not the brazen deeds of the trio that amazed detectives and the public, but their ages: “Red” McGlynn was 10 years old, his brother George was 8, and William “Fatty” McGlynn was 9.
READ MORE

280 Columbus Ave.

Early Multi-Family Housing
Designed by architect Henry Janeway Hardenbergh--the man who designed the extraordinary Dakota Apartments--the flats here were first leased to well-to-do families, but soon moved towards more middle class tenants before, during the Depression, eroding into a flophouse. Things improved by mid-century though, and luckily today one finds the upper floors of Hardenbergh’s stylish flat building little changed. It survives as a remarkable example of early multi-family housing in the then just-developing neighborhood.
READ MORE

261 Columbus Ave.

Singers and Sinners
In 1901 resident Cornelius Allen was love struck over the famous and beautiful stage actress Lillian Russell. For weeks he sent her roses and love letters. He waited by his telephone, dressed for the theater, ready for the actress’s call saying she accepted his proposal. It never came.
READ MORE

248 Columbus Ave.

A Grocery and a Work of Art
This building was designed by one of the most famous firms in Gilded Age New York: McKim, Mead & White. For a grocery store. But, Park & Tilford was quite a step above anything the UWS had ever seen. The opening on September 23, 1893 was reported by The Times as "attended by hundreds”, adding, “There is no business building more handsome on the west side”. The New-York Tribune noted that the “best class of trade” on the Upper West Side had “suffered much inconvenience by being obliged to order their groceries and household provisions from down-town houses.” They could now rest easy. “The new store of Park & Tilford…has been decorated and stocked in such a manner that it is no exaggeration to say that it is a work of art.”
READ MORE

240 Columbus Ave.

Lost Time and Broadway Hits
Daniel Morey of 240 Columbus Avenue swam out with the surf and floated back with the tide. He was out of time and so were two others caught in the nick of time as they pocketed watches thinking they weren't being seen!
READ MORE

235 Columbus Ave.

Lifelines and Livelihoods
In the early 1900’s hotelier Richard Kelly lived here. His widowed mother, Florence (Fanny) Kelly, planned to come visit from London in April 1912, choosing the newly christened RMS Titanic. Mrs. Kelly was one of the lucky ones. Not only did she make it here, she brought with her Marion Smith, a ladies maid that she had met in her lifeboat.
READ MORE

201 Columbus Ave.

Modest Means or Millionaires?
These apartments were filled in the 1900's with tenants of modest means; many were newcomers to America. In 1896 John DeGioanni’s “eating house” was at #203; next door was Frank Bird & Son, painters. The Birds also lived upstairs. Cecilio Ocon fled here after the Mexican Revolution in 1913, but had trouble explaining a diamond necklace he brought along to Customs officials.
READ MORE

190 Columbus Ave.

A Literal Shotgun Wedding
On June 27, 1893, 20-year old Mable Clark became the wife of Frederick Clark here. While the pair had lived together for some time, that night Mable’s mother and aunt appeared with a minister. “Mrs. Clark threatened to shoot him and then commit suicide,” said The New York Times, and “Clark preferred not to be shot.” The couple split up July 1st.
READ MORE

189 Columbus Ave.

Looted Linens and The Literary Review
This building was the scene of a crime spree in Summer 1899 when “valuable linens” repeatedly disappeared from the rooftop clothes lines. Things turned serious when Chief of the New York Police Detective Bureau George McClusky’s pajamas were stolen on July 18--the string of burglaries came to an abrupt stop after that!
READ MORE

180-188 Columbus Ave.

Immigration: To and Fro...
When Ninth Avenue was renamed Columbus Avenue in the early 1890’s this building's residents were respectable, middle-class working people like John Rohl, a piano maker; Henry Berthaume, a waiter, and his wife, Bertha, a dressmaker. Susan Windecker was a partner in the dressmaking shop downstairs; her sister Augusta had a hat shop nearby.
READ MORE

157 Columbus Ave.

A "Taxpayer" Full of Talent
In 1903, this was a two-story brick “taxpayer” building. J. T. Finn & Co. plumbing was here; they worked on Charles Schwab’s massive Riverside Drive mansion in 1904. There was also Ward & Feld ladies' tailoring and the Friedrichs Co. art supplies store. By 1906, Italian immigrant brothers Gustatus and Samuel Calama had a popular restaurant on the corner.
READ MORE

249 Columbus Ave.

Always, Adrian
A father's loss names The Adrian, and two brothers carry on the family tradition in honor of their brother.  Built in reverence, not all the residents would take the time to think of others.  Joseph Busteed attempted to dine, smoke and dash and haberdashery was the only matter of concern to Mary Valentine Yale.  Frocks have costs, the price this time?  Her marriage...
READ MORE

100 West 67th Street

Stolen Cars, Arts and Hearts 
The forgotten immigrant architect Max Hensel unknowingly built a stage for a cast of characters--whether Miss or Mrs., Mamie (May) Jane Atwood or John McKeever, their stories live on to eventual Applause...
READ MORE

451-457 Columbus Ave.

Smoking Hot at The Nebraska
Fires and fired guns fill the history of the Nebraska, a building named for the state which brought America canned Spam.  This building is just as filling with modern day lore of small businesses selling...bones?
READ MORE

306-316 Columbus Ave.

A $25,000 Kiss at the Del Monte
The Del Monte has cooked books with phony numbers and cooked rail bird as phony quail.  Call Holden Caufield!  There was many a scandal to turn heads and break hearts, as this address required a full medical staff on speed dial!
READ MORE

461-475 Columbus Ave.

The 3-Month Old Boarder
This block had many characters--those kindly and unassuming who accepted a mystery baby and those cunning and brash who orchestrated coordinated thefts of valuables.  Some won, some lost but only one was involved in a "ride slaying"...

READ MORE

428 Columbus Ave.

The Jungmann Pharmacy
This cast iron building witnessed a burgeoning pharmacy chain fall and saw the dispersal of the original Waldorf-Astoria Hotel...the stories it could tell!

READ MORE

360 Columbus Ave.

A Human Birdfeeder at the Kenmar
An UN-employment agency run by resident Edward Arden Noblett seemed hard to beat but this "confidence man" kept evolving, as did the residents at the Kenmar.  From a "ghost writer" to a human birdfeeder, you'll want to read on to see what the buzz was about.

READ MORE

540-546 Columbus Ave.

Secrets of the Ormonde
Didn't your mother ever tell you soda was bad for you?  Well, in this case it was doubly-deadly!  But it was the cries of a violin--or six for that matter, that put this building on the map.  Peppered with scandalous affairs and famous artisans, catch some of the fizz yourself...

READ MORE

549-555 Columbus Ave.

The Self-Congratulatory Prague
Architects seldom seem to get the credit--even one like John G. Prague who built dozens of buildings on the Upper West Side, but The Prague changed that.  The home to a Police Lieutenant on the rise and a New Jersey man on the lam, this Romanesque Revival Twin building was seeing double--or at least both sides of the law.

READ MORE

528-534 Columbus Ave.

The Amy: Taking shots at Delmonico's
The Amy was witness to many characters but two of the most curious might be the two talkative ladies who wedged into a butcher's payphone and were trapped after hours--that sure gave them something to talk about!

READ MORE

520-526 Columbus Ave.

The 1890 Brockholst Apartments
Named for Supreme Court Justice Henry Brockholst Livingston, The Brockholst was held to a high standard and met it--lobby interiors by Louis Comfort Tiffany and guarded by a beast atop a deeply recessed medieval arched entranceway, this residential hotel cared for its residents...and they left their mark...

READ MORE

191-199 Columbus Ave.

'Reliable Druggists'
The luck of the Irish [architect] did not extend to all the residents of 191-199 Columbus Avenue--there were mishaps for sure but with a pharmacist on hand and celery compound never far away, they've managed to maintain...

READ MORE

210-216 Columbus Ave.

Global Affairs at the Hotel Walton

Architects Israels and Harder likely didn't expect their Beaux Arts Hotel Walton to play such a role in the history of Cuban politics or even the conditions in the prison camps of Palestine or the concentration camps of Eritrea, Africa...yet here you have it!  

READ MORE

225 Columbus Ave.

Storage Wars -- 1893 style

The widow Mrs. Plummer lost big-time when her storage facility auctioned off her family heirlooms, but for everything lost, something is found.  The divorcee Eleanor Fostick Peak was in luck when she found herself a seat in life boat #5 exiting the R.M.S. Titanic.

READ MORE

260-268 Columbus Ave.

Bank at the Base, Smoke Police Upstairs

In real estate circles, Charles Buek was a sort of one-man show.  His firm, Charles Buek & Co., not only developed properties, but he often acted as the architect as well.  In 1887, he began construction of an upscale apartment building on the northwest corner of 72nd Street and Columbus Avenue.  Completed the following year, he designed the brick and stone structure primarily in the recently popular Queen Anne style.  The cost of construction was about $2.6 million in today's money.  Buek named the building the St. Charles Apartments.  

READ MORE

313 Columbus Ave.

The Hartford's Stowaways of Bedloe's Island

You can't spell 'Hartford' without 'art' and art played a major role in the history here.  From the art of the con to legitimate artists -- like families of painters Virgilio Tojetti and Edward Hopper and (il)legitimate theatre stars like Alice Weavers, the Hartford was equal opportunity!

READ MORE

309-311 Columbus Ave.

Spilt Milk at the Saybrook

Once dairy stores, the Saybrook featured several unassuming heroes--those who saved women from gray cars like Patrick Fitzgerald, and those like Hampar O. Ambrookian, a hard working rug dealer who organized efforts for the Armenian Relief Fund Committee.

READ MORE

509-517 Columbus Ave.

The Champs of the Beauchamp

Like US Olympian Loren Murchison, there were other winners at the Beauchamp.  The well-known, Homberg-Germany born violinist, Franz Kaltenborn formed the Kaltenborn-Beyer-Hane String Quartet, which The New York Times said, "was so well received by come of the most critical audiences here."  Turns out it was only hanging on by a string...

READ MORE

286 Columbus Ave.

The Split-Personality Greystone

There were many characters at the Greystone but hardly as many as in the books by resident Zane Grey--or the man himself who once billed his future wife $86 million--or her soul.

READ MORE

281 Columbus Ave.

The Accidental Hug

An Avenue building, 281 Columbus refuses to give up its alternate address of 67 West 73rd Street.  Designed with the pedigree of Henry Janeway Hardenbergh, this building has seen its share of assaults at its crown and base but still retains dignity.

READ MORE

270-276 Columbus Ave.

Every Apt. A Life Story

A seemingly inconspicuous 'Colonial Café' is really a Saloon and the police get caught in a bind.  But did you hear about that Conway boy--stabbed in the abdomen!  While the often fatal peritonitis is a risk, what's the diagnosis for a snitch?

READ MORE

548-556 Columbus Ave.

The Dudley: Collecting Art, Taxes and Antiques

While Thomas Manley made quite the Impression at The Dudley, fellow neighbor Philip V.R. Van Wyck was just leaving a dent in everyone's wallet.  The most loquacious prize goes to A. Sacha Karley who by 1922 could speak Russian, Turkish, Persian, Armenian, Georgian and all Slovak languages.

READ MORE

501-503 Columbus Ave.

New York, Paris, Mars...

Widow Etta Brewer thought she was going for a night out--not to get cleaned out.  She woke up to find her six diamond rings missing from her cut hands but also missing was cash, a gold necklace, diamond earrings and a broach...this was not the end of it though, because she and her unwitting caller would have a second, unplanned "date"...

READ MORE

460 Columbus Ave.

The Tell-Tale Telegram

It was the perfect scheme...only until it wasn't.  Who knew the racket was in hair felt roofing anyway?  The big story here is the boarder who broke up a marriage--or was it the slasher who shot himself in the eye?  Decide for yourself.

READ MORE

432 Columbus Ave.

The West End Protective League Rides Again

Irishman John McCormack might have been an ex-con, and heaven-forbid, an east-side saloon-keeper, but he was just trying to make a decent living...so what if he served a round or two on a Sunday, right?  The West End Protective League was having none of that.  137 years and counting later the taps are still serving...so who won?

READ MORE

418-422 Columbus Ave.

The Warwick Arms

On December 15th, 1914 it appears there was an intruder in Rosalie Schumar's home.  The Sun later reported that "She screamed and saw the burglar make his way hurridly into the butler's pantry"...well, where else was he supposed to go?

READ MORE

341-349 Columbus Ave.

Little Modesty at The Sylvia

Actress Hope Booth, ever the entertainer, even entertained men at home when her husband was away.  Her career would have its ups and downs but never a down like her neighbor Reuben Dorfman whose sedan wouldn't wait for the elevator at the garage.  Never a better case for owning a helicopter that could have flown on its own.

READ MORE

322-326 Columbus Ave.

The Morphing 322-326 Columbus Ave.

Once three buildings, now it is one--just as a coffee bar becomes a cocktail lounge, this building seems to be very fluid.  Look now before it changes again?

READ MORE

220-228 Columbus Ave.

Uncle John's Doll Hospital 

While Mr. Doll lived on the third floor, Uncle John Lamb was the Doll doctor who held the storefront at 228 Columbus Avenue, a gentle Irish immigrant who enjoyed bringing joy to children by bringing toys back to life, but neither he, nor his limp patient of August 17, 1900 received the care they needed...

READ MORE

171-179 Columbus Ave.

Germans and a Ghost...

This story is quite literally explosive.  A connection between several gas meters melted and allowed gas to escape.  But that is not all, this address has a history of escapes--namely Girardo Caponargri who got away from the scene of the crime, but couldn't escape his own mind and his victim's ghost which haunted him.

READ MORE

221-223 Columbus Ave.

On Blind Violinists, Bootleggers and Brothels

One might think this title says it all, but we haven't even gotten to the derailed train, the obstinate tenants, or the wayward landlord who cut the hot water, before getting into some himself.

READ MORE

227-229 Columbus Ave.

Thrashings and Marital Strife

Lots of marriages have troubles but it seems like this was the former status quo for couples at 227-229 Columbus Avenue.  Some accepted it, some fought back, and others literally just fought.  Then there was that issue with the $1,000 bill...somehow clarifying why these are no longer being printed.

READ MORE

Block 1139

An Armory on Broadway, The Rival to Madison Square Garden becomes a Parking Lot and New York's Forgotten Television Square

Many lives for this block whose current iteration has reigned as the tallest building in the neighborhood until 2020.  Bound by Broadway, Columbus and running 67th to 68th Street this block has seen three lives as full-site iterations of various purposes.  Somehow uniting Steve Allen and the Ringling Brothers, it is the grounds of New York's first Auto Show.

READ MORE

230-238 Columbus Ave.

The Devil and the $100-Bill

Does one mistake change one's overall character?  Anna Janssen was described by The World as "above all things an honest-looking woman.  She has not the slightest pretension to beauty, but her square shoulders, sturdy neck, stout arms and thick hands show that she is one who has toiled hard for many years." ...and then the Devil got into her.

READ MORE

101 West 66th Street

The "Ship that Never Goes to Sea" on Broadway Helped Build a Hospital in Greece

An early theme restaurant becomes a cultural anchor for emigres from the Greek island of Kythera.  With free post cards and a campy interior, this was a serious business that gave back to its roots funding a hospital in the homeland.

READ MORE

59 West 65th Street

"Broadway the Invincible, the Champion Double-Crosser of all Time"

The Hotel Sidney became the Lido and never won any Zagat awards but the seven-story elevator building held its own against the luxury options on nearby Broadway.  The very out-of-place-ness of the building suits some of its inhabitants, from Rough Riders major Khalil El-Asword to lightweight boxing champ Freddie Welsh...

READ MORE

304 Columbus Ave.

Smoke and Family Secrets

The only building by Seattle-based architect Oscar Tolhurst to be in the Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District, 304 Columbus Avenue may have also been the only fern-rental candy store in the neighborhood--or anywhere!

READ MORE

300 Columbus Ave.

Blind Bets at The Grayling

The Grayling was the site of an inside job but what happened outside was nearly more intriguing--an unassuming newspaper man who made bank by taking illegal bets from his newsstand...

READ MORE

483-485 Columbus Ave.

Believe it's Not Butter

Old grudges die hard.  And "Connors the Spy" met his fate in Central Park, as payment for perceived wrongs in the homeland.  There were many Irish stories in this building but Connors is by far the most infamous.

READ MORE

430 Columbus Ave.

One Fiery Bachelor Hotel at the Planetarium Arms

Multiple renovations saw repeated change at this Neville and Bagge building, but fires were too common of an occurrence.  As for the "imps and prostitutes"? It was the 1970's...

READ MORE

376 Columbus Ave.

Hot Soda at The Volunteer 

The unhinged son of a Supreme Court Judge and a tenant who liked to gamble add color to The Volunteer.  A 1970 renovation by Douglas Durst and Eli Zabar make that color brown stucco.

READ MORE

269-275 Columbus Ave.

Tough Customers at The Westport 

Fighting the fruit seller, boycotting the fish monger...the residents of The Westport seemed to have ever-limited diets.  If someone wasn't getting wacked on the head, they were likely being thrown out of the window, or otherwise fighting for their own exoneration.

READ MORE

Block 1214

An Education in What Was Here

Columbus Avenue between West 83rd and 84th Streets has, since 1965, appeared to passersby as a monolithic brick wall. The walls of P.S. 9 (also known as the Sarah Anderson School) stand here now, on top of the remains of three different structures, all of them the product of fine craftsmanship and containing the stories of myriad successes and tragedies in the lives of late-19th and early 20th-century New Yorkers. Today, the windowless façade of P.S. 9 is admittedly a far cry from the dense, bustling, and dynamic streetwall that once existed here. The following are the stories of this block and the demolition that eventually wiped them from the map.

READ MORE

Events

Exhibit

This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

 

 

They Were Here website, banner, and logo design:
KG Design International

Share This