18th and 19th Century Historic Sites
Dyckman Farmhouse Museum
Inwood only has one museum, but it’s a great one. The Dyckman Farmhouse, which was built in 1784, is Manhattan’s last surviving farmhouse. The Dutch Colonial style home was built by William Dyckman who likely was assisted in the task by his slaves who worked the farm and lived with the family for decades. By the early 1900s, with apartment houses and stores having replaced the surrounding fields and barns, the house remained but was in disrepair. Two of Dyckman’s descendants restored it and donated it to the City. It opened as a museum in 1916.
It sits prominently on a small hill above the corner of Broadway and W. 204th Street and retains a small garden as a link to its agricultural origin. Inside, the well preserved landmark is open on Thursdays to Sundays (Fridays and Saturdays from December to March), with donation-based admission, and hosts many events throughout the year. Fun modern fact: it is supported by the Dyckman Farmhouse Alliance, whose members include both a Dyckman family member and craft brewer Juan Camilo, founder of Dyckman Beer Company.
A marble arch that stands incongruously in the midst of an auto body shop at Broadway and W. 216th Street is a vestige of Inwood’s era as a home to mansions. During the 19th century, Inwood gradually transitioned from farms to a preserve of wealthy landowners who joined the Dyckmans and constructed stately homes. One of these was John T. Seaman and his wife, the former Ann Drake, whose estate was reached via a monumental entry arch modeled on Paris’ Arc de Triomphe. The marble was quarried from the site.
Frank Leslie’s Popular Monthly, November, 1895. In public domain via Hathitrust
The mansion is long gone, but the arch was improbably spared from destruction and over time found itself incorporated into commercial buildings. Now dilapidated and adorned with graffiti, it stands hiding in plain sight. For those who revel in the paradoxes of urban history, the Seaman-Drake Arch is worth a visit even though it only can be viewed from the street.