Image via Library of Congress
After noticing how many “fake” mews there are around New York, we decided to look into actual mews that have been preserved from the 19th century. Before the automobile, when the only way to get around was on a horse or being draw by one in a carriage, horses inhabited the city and actually played a huge role in its functioning. These valuable horses needed stables where they could rest and be cared for, so owners bought land and built rows of stables and carriage houses–also known as mews.
When the automobile took over and the mews were no longer needed many of these rows were destroyed, but thankfully some were converted for residential or commercial purposes. Converted mews and carriage houses that have been carefully preserved give us a glimpse into the past; a New York lost to the modern age. Here we share 9 of NYC’s remaining mews.
We previously rounded up 8 beautiful historic districts in Manhattan that were smaller than a block and we decided it was time to look at all of New York City. All the boroughs except Staten Island have historic districts smaller than a city block, as defined by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. We’ll go in order, from the smallest number of houses in the district.
This little historic district is really just a corner at the northwest corner of 89th Street and Lexington Avenue. In addition to this set of 6 buildings along Lexington Avenue, the district includes one narrow townhouse at 121 E. 89th Street. According to Ephemeral New York, Henry Hardenbergh, who designed the homes, “also designed the Dakota and the original Waldorf-Astoria on 34th Street.”
1811 Commisioner’s Plan for NYC
Although most New Yorkers know Lexington Avenue, which runs from East 20th Street to East 131st Street, you might be surprised to find that it’s a young avenue in New York City. Lexington Avenue wasn’t included in the Commissioner’s Plan of 1811, but it emerged in the mid 1800s. Laywer Samuel Ruggles wanted to add Lexington Avenue between the already-existing Third and Park Avenues (Fourth Avenue in the grid) to increase the value of his land on Manhattan’s East Side. Mr. Ruggles’ ambition reflects the larger effort of many people to develop and sell the land between 14th Street and Washington Heights. Lexington Avenue’s name originates from the Battle of Lexington, Massachusetts of the Revolutionary War.
Pomander Walk on the Upper West Side
Strolling through certain streets or areas of NYC, you might feel suddenly transported to an older time. From an old world fishing village in the Bronx, to back houses transformed into luxury mansions in the West Village, the following areas capture the essence of a different period of NYC. While some, like City Island Fishing Village stand as microcosms, others are literally side-by-side with modern skyscrapers.
An Untapped reader left us a comment on our piece about the last 19th century gaslight lamppost in the city, located on Patchin Place in Greenwich Village. The comment directed us to lit lampposts in Murray Hill:
“There is a house on East 31 Street between 2nd and 3rd avenue on the North side of the street. I’m pretty sure those are gas lights outside it. And they are always on!”