Significant Landowner Directory

As the grid plan approached, there were virtually unlimited opportunities, for Colonial- and Federal-era landowners. Throughout Manhattan, every up-and-coming residential hamlet and rural community as well as all the farmland along the riverside railroad track edges, eventually, would succumb to the grid.

It was simple to tap into the northward-moving commercial swath on and off Broadway, or the residential migration along Fifth Avenue and adjacent to Central Park. On-the-spot speculators were handy and ready to forward every transaction. Many gambled and lost their land once an economic boom was followed by a panic.

Also, with the major players, say, an Astor or Wendel, willing to step in and to capitalize with each recurring stock market crash. The long-term investors had the means to amass more farm tracts as the city expanded farther north, along Broadway from Union and Madison Squares to Greeley and Herald to Times Squares and then into the Upper West Side—always northward.

This continual trend of encroaching commercialization on high-end specialty shops and upper-crust brownstone homeowners caused store owners and residents alike to again move on. The “Gold Key of Hanover Square” opened the way for the Goelet family realestate fortune. Their sizable holdings between Union and Madison Square, where Broadway and Fifth Avenue cross one another, provided continuously increasing property values and revenues from their leased holdings.

No doubt the “grid plan” was all-encompassing and without regard to established owner’s boundaries and borders. Farther along Fifth Avenue, third- and fourth-generation Goelets amassed land already cut-up into plots, which they further divided into lots, and were way ahead of the crowd there, too.

Although this dead-center alley of resident’s to retailers to commerce buildings, proved to be among the most lucrative lots and plots in Manhattan, the significant outlying areas—those nearby the New Amsterdam settlement, now considered Downtown Manhattan, were great consecutive farm and pasture tracts, which were owned by a few families, namely Stuyvesant, Bayard, De Lancey, Warren, and Moore. Their holdings, as rural estates, could be measured in square miles.

The two largest homesteaders, the Hopper homestead (now, Hell’s Kitchen to Clinton) and Benson Farms (present-day, Southcentral Harlem to northeastern Yorkville) were within the Colonial-era Bloomingdale district or Harlem Commons. Both considered far from civilization when their boundary and border markers were staked out and registered. From the beginning, there was resistance to urbanization as well. First, the landowning families were politically connected powerhouses. The more adventurous among them had improved small portions of their farms prior to the War of Independence. Additionally, farming villages had established themselves between the harbor settlement and Love Lane. The westernmost was Hampstead Hamlet, approximately within the five Tribeca historic districts. It was incorporated into the Trinity Church King’s Farms, in the early 1700s.

The enlarged 1600s Greenwich Hamlet, the “Village” as it is referred to today, began at West Houston Street and was contained between Seventh to Sixth Avenues, which remained intact by the “Grid Plan” designers.

The Bowery Village, beginning on East Houston Street abutting a tax-free farmer’s market, spread to East 12th Street, at Union Square. It ran along the Bowery Road, between Broadway and Second Avenues, centered at Copper Square, the confluence of the Bowery, Astor Place, and Stuyvesant Street. Another community followed the UnionPlace-to-Love-Lane triangular extension of Bloomingdale Road, as East 17th to 21st Street Fifth Avenue, today’s Flatiron and NoMad.

The next semblance of country villages was in the West Nineties to 116th Street, in the northern Bloomingdale District, as Morningside Heights. Below, within the Harlem the Harlem Plains, spreading from West 126th to 130th Street, is Manhattanville. A Lenape trading post, at a shoreline flat region. And, the Harlem Common Village, near to the Harlem Bridge, from East 117th to 128th Streets. Finally, in Upper Manhattan, near to West 168th Street at the Knightsbridge Road, a stagecoach station evolved into a first Washington Heights enclave on improved streets.

As the surface grid brought change, mass transit accelerated the unrelenting grading progression from rough terrain into standard lots. Many additional significant and very asymmetrical outlying Manhattan tracts—whether left fallow or tilled, a country seat or future building site—were amassed shortly after the 1684 British takeover, and consolidated through to 1775.

The significant landowners’ boundaries, by neighborhood—rather than ordered by purchase or deed registration—are based on the John Randel Jr. Manhattan Farm Maps identifications, surveyed in association with Charles Clinton, after 1813, and drawn between 1818 and 1820, north from East Houston Street or Greenwich Avenue at West 13th Street, to the city limit, as West 155th Street.

Wherever there was a question. The matter was resolved, as best as possible, by crossreferencing comments or notations on the Dripp’s Map of 1860 or the 1865 Viele Map of Manhattan boundaries and waterways.

The additional investigator’s estimated boundaries included, for the most part, were unearthed while tracing a parcel’s ownership lineage. They only need to be considered better than interesting accumulated impressions, and far short of flawless. They are, therefore, to be enjoyed, hopefully as asides, and never to serve as proof-positive and absolute identification for the past, present, or future inheritance matters. Or, any other matter, as a matter of fact.

(1650-1850)

Richard Nicholls, the first British governor, granted a ‘Thousand Acre Tract’—roughly comprising West 50th to 89th Street. Dutch patroons and an English syndicate quickly absorb the entirety along the roadbed expanded from the major most Native American trail, as country estates.

At the onset, the Hudson River was the sole means of transport. The children and inlaw descendants enjoyed their estates for 200 years. If and when a tract became available, relatives and neighbors (only) were invited to step forward. Therefore, the Bloomingdale District remained close-knit and tightly controlled—few outsiders, if any, penetrated the barrier bushes, rarely reaching these private domain’s front doors. The neighborhoods fall into a corridor pattern, though, first encase is West 60th to 68th Streets, between Central Park West (Eighth Avenue) and the Hudson River; second, Central Pak West to Columbus Avenue (Ninth Avenue), 69th to 96th Street; next, spanning Columbus and across Amsterdam Avenue (Tenth Avenue) to Broadway, from West 70th to 110th Street; and last, at Broadway’s west, takes in West 71st to 109th Streets, between West End Avenue and Riverside Drive Eleventh and Twelfth Avenues) to Riverside Park along the Hudson River.

Prior to Central Park, and changing the district’s moniker to the “West End,” the Bloomingdale District valley, now Manhattan Valley, north of West 93rd to 110th Street and between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues, was cultivated farmland.

Due west, in the Amsterdam-Avenue-to-Hudson-River blocks, the Bloomingdale Hamlet, today Morningside Heights, evolved roughly from West 99th to include 110th Street. The village spread from the river-facing bluffs to the easterly cliffs, which overlook the Harlem Plains, but always along the main artery, whatever the name—Bloomingdale Road, the Boulevard, then Broadway.

Then, by neighborhood, the Significant Landowners of the Upper West Side, are:

Lincoln Square Area.

West End to Amsterdam Avenue, the landowners, from south to north, were:

  • West 58th to 62nd Streets, David Dunham;
  • West 62nd to 67th Streets, John Low;  West 67th to 69th Streets, John Tallman;  West 69th to 70th Street, Jacob Barker.

Amsterdam Avenue to Columbus Avenue owners were, as follows:

West 57th to 62nd Streets (to Broadway), David Cargill;

West 57th to 62nd Streets (Broadway to Central Park West), John Bogert;

West 63rd to 64th Streets, John H. Tallman;

West 65th to 67th Streets, John Gollseberger;

West 67th to 73rd Streets, Jacob Harsen;

West 67th to 68th Streets, John A. Hardbrook; West 68th to 70th Streets, Jacob Barker.

West End Avenue-Riverside Drive.

The West Seventies surrounding Bloomingdale Road, since the founding Bloomingdale District the settlers here, thought of their country estates as being in Harsenville. In fact, West 71st Street was the Harsen Road, an important Bloomingdale Road to Eastern Post Road connection, at East 72nd Street.

As the “grid” implementation blasted through the protruding granite formations, changes to the community began. By 1894, construction had begun to be the one-block wide, Ansonia Hotel, Manhattan’s premier residential hotel.

Across the way, in 1902, the Dorilton apartment house replaced the Jacob Harsen villa and gardens. In 1905, one estate which, since 1665, had been passed down generation to generation was destined to be a tri-part, Astor Apartment complex.

Stretching from West 77th to 84th Street, at Bloomingdale Road to the river’s edge, the south tract to Oliver De Lancey’s estate—the sole Harsenville loyalist forfeiture— included his Stone House and gardens, West 78th to 79th Street.

In a nutshell, Stone House’s history was in 1789, the manor house and gardens, passed—quietly—to an influential lawyer, Benjamin Apthorp. He died there, in 1797, then:

  1. Charlotte (nee Apthorp), and John C. Van Den Heuvel, a son-in-law and former Dutch
  2. Harmon Hendricks, a neighboring tavern owner, in 1827, bought the mansion to be an inn a day-tripper’s destination;
  3. M. Poillon, a subsequent owner, then sold to William B. Astor, in 1878.

Within 25 years, the

  1. Stone House was demolished for the courtyard entry Apthorp Apartments.

Westerly—Broadway to the Hudson River.

  • West 70th to 72nd Street, Jacob Harsen;  West 72nd to 73rd Streets, John Broome
  • West 74th, the Drake family;
  • West 75th to 76th, Richard Lawrence;
  • West 76th to 77th, Samuel Lawrence;
  • West 75th to 77th Street, Newson;

West 77th to 78th Street, the Somerindyke family summer home.

West 84th to 89th Street, John Mc Vicker;

West 90th to 92nd Street, Brockholst Livingston;

West 91st to 94th (irregular), Weyman;

West 93rd to 96th Street, Bloomingdale Road, Garret Van Horn; West 94th to 96th, Striker’s Bay only, Frederick De Peyster; West 94th to 96th, west to Ninth Avenue, David Clarkson.

Note: The Bloomingdale District—always west of the Bloomingdale Road to the Hudson River—stretched from West 55th Street, at the Reed Valley northernmost point, to West 122nd Street, the northernmost Morningside bluff.

Bloomingdale Hamlet centered along the Bloomingdale Road nearby Striker’s Bay. At West 99th Street, St. Michael’s Church on the northeast Broadway corner, began the Bloomingdale Hamlet. James Striker, a John Hopper descendant of the 1700s southern Bloomingdale District tract owner built his home here. His neighbors (each an investor in large tracts or plots and lots at Love Lane, 21st Street, as Broadway crosses Fifth Avenue), exemplify the tight-knit community, where estates were handing down to heirs, such as.

  • West 96th to 99th Streets, from the Hudson River to Ninth Avenue, James Striker;
  • West 99th, Broadway’s northwest corner, St. Michael’s Church;
  • West 101st to 102nd, Broadway only, Post family;
  • West 102nd to 103rd Street, Broadway and irregular to West 104th Street, G.B. Vroome.
  • West 99th to 104th Streets, along the Hudson River bank, (and east to Central Park West), William Rogers;
  • West 105th to 107th Streets, on the water, William Heyward;
  • West 107th to 109th Streets, to Bloomingdale Road, Nicholas de Peyster;  West 109th to 111th Streets, to Amsterdam Avenue, Gordon S. Mumford.

Central—Schuyler District.

The major tract in this West 72nd-to-96th Street and Broadway-to-Columbus-Avenue mid-island corridor was James De Lancey estate’s 200-acre north tract.

Representing Manhattan’s literary community, Virginia Eliza and Edgar Allen Poe were residents. Throughout Mrs. Poe’s illness, as tenants, they lived nearby, in a wood-frame farmhouse, enjoying a commanding view up, across the Hudson River.

From West 70th Street to West 96th, between Bloomingdale Road to Columbus Avenue, where the mid-island pastoral Bloomingdale Farms, in Manhattan Valley, begins. Here the landowners were—

West 69th to 73rd Street, unevenly to Columbus Avenue, Jacob Harsen;

West 73rd to 74th Street, to Columbus Avenue, Lemuel Wells;

West 74th to 75th Street, at Broadway only, Henry Jackson;

West 74th to 75th Street, to Columbus Avenue, Isaac Jones;

West 75th to 76th Street, to Amsterdam Avenue’s east, Isaac Carow;

West 76th to 79th Street, to Amsterdam Avenue, Stephen Jumel;

West 76th to 79th Street, Amsterdam to Columbus Avenue, Lemmel Wells;

  • West 78th to 83rd Street, to Columbus Avenue, Jacob Lorillard;
  • West 84th to 85th Street, to Columbus Avenue, Le Count;
  • West 84th Street, northwest corner of Broadway, Mrs. Brennan; West 86th to 89th

Street, to Columbus Avenue, Robert L. Bowne;

  • West 89th to 94th Streets, to Ninth Avenue, John McVickers. On his death:
    1. Brockholst Livingston, the adjacent riverside tract owner, purchased and built

Elmwood, a hilltop mansion;

    1. William Jauncey, the northerly neighbor, bought these tracts as a gift to his eldest daughter, Jauncey thorne.

NOTE: The Colonel and Mrs. Thorne inherited her father’s easterly land, which then encompass West 84th to 89th Streets as well. They lived at their country estate for 50 years. The property, Elmwood, became a public house and picnic grounds, named Elm Park. During the Civil War, the park was converted into a drill encampment for recruits off to the front. The Broadway lots fell into William B. Astor’s hands. Charles Platt designed Astor Court was completed in 1916.

Manhattan Valley.

  • West 94th to 96th Street, West End Avenue to Columbus Avenue, David Clarkson;
  • West 96th to 99th Streets, Amsterdam to Columbus Avenue, James Striker;
  • West 94th to 99th Street, surrounding Columbus Avenue, William. I Davis;
  • West 99th to 105th Streets, Amsterdam to Columbus Avenue, John Clendening;
  • West 103rd to 110th Streets, Amsterdam to Columbus Avenue, Rogers;
  • West 107th to 110th Street, and beyond, Broadway to Columbus Avenue’s west, New York Hospital.

Central Park West.

The Lower Quarter

  • West 60th to 62nd Street, Broadway to Central Park West, John Bogert;
  • West 63rd to 65th Street, Broadway to Central Park West, Corporation of New York;
  • West 65th to 67th Street, Broadway to Central Park West, G. Kimberly;
  • West 65th to 69th Street, Broadway to Central Park West, John Mullamphy.

The Middle Quarter

  • West 69th to 73rd Street, Columbus Avenue to Central Park West, Jack Harsen;
  • West 73rd to 74th Street, Columbus Avenue to Central Park West, Lemuel Wells;
  • West 74th to 75th Street, Columbus Avenue to Central Park West Isaac Jones;
  • West 75th to 76 Street, Columbus Avenue to Central Park West Isaac Carow;
  • West 76th to 77th Street, around Central Park West, John R. Skiddy
  • West 77th to 81st Street, Columbus Avenue to Central Park West, David Wagstaff;

The Upper Quarter

  • West 81st to 86th Street, Columbus to Central Park West, William Woolsey;
  • West 82nd to 84th Street, at Central Park West, Demilt;
  • West 84th to 86th Street, at Central Park West, William A. Davis;
  • West 86th to 89th Street, Columbus to Central Park West, Robert L. Brown;
  • West 89th to 94th Street, Columbus to Central Park West, John Shaw;
  • West 94th to 99th Street, Columbus to Central Park West, John Van Den Heuvel.

The Manhattan Valley Quarter

  • West 94th to 99th Street, surrounding Columbus Avenue, William. I Davis;
  • West 99th to 103rd Street, Columbus to Central Park West, John Clendening;
  • West 103rd to 105th Street, at Columbus Avenue, Samuel Borrowe;  West 103rd to 107th Street, surrounding Central Park West, Samuel Borrowe;  West 107th 110th Street, Columbus to Central Park West, Valentine Nutter.

Morningside Heights.

Continuing into the West One Hundreds along the river and above the Harlem flatland drop-off, east of Amsterdam Avenue, the unequal topography (with cliffs and gorges to the river, and Harlem flatlands), dictated the roadbed’s passage as well as a tract’s boundaries and borders. To accommodate the rough terrain the Commissioners’ Plan of 1811 was altered, at West 108th Street, and then Broadway assumed Eleventh Avenue’s path due north.

The major landowner through to the 1880s was Nicholas DePeyster. His private lane to a river-facing bluff mansion was accessed from Bloomingdale Road.

Between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue, in 1879 to 1889, two health-care institution tracts were transferred to two other institutions, a Trinity Church and Columbia University, initially the Trinity Church King’s College; religious and secular study defined the neighborhood’s ambience.

Between West 110th and 124th Street, in the Broadway-to-Hudson- River blocks, the east-to-west laying estate owners were, as follows:

  • West 109th to 111th Street, Gordon Mumford;
  • West 111th to 114th Street, Nicholas de Peyster;
  • West 116th to 118th Street, Roulet family;
  • West 118th to 119th Street, Caspar Meier;
  • West 119th to 120th Street, John Beekman;
  • West 120th to 124th Street, and east over the cliff, Marx family.

At Broadway’s east to Tenth Avenue, where rugged cliffs drop off, the tract owners (on a diagonal) and institutional properties (irregular), from south to north were:

  • West 107th to 108th, Broadway to Tenth Avenue, H. F. Jones;
  • West 108th to 109th, Broadway to Tenth Avenue, John Jacob Astor;
  • West 109th to 110th, Broadway to Tenth Avenue, Nicholas de Peyster;  West 110th to 112th, Broadway to Tenth Avenue, Gordon S Mumford;
  • West 110th to 116th, Broadway to Tenth Avenue, Nicholas de Peyster;
  • West 112th to 114th, Broadway’s east to Tenth Avenue’s west, (irregular) James de Peyster.

NOTE: J.J. Astor put his initials here, too, on Bloomingdale Square, now Straus Park, which was renamed to honor R. H. Macy’s owner. Three generations later, John Jacob Astor IV and William Backhouse Astor built on the lots. The 1904-09 two one-blocklong and monumental, Beaux-Arts luxury apartment houses, the Manchester and Manhasset, are still standing.

  • West 107th to 113th Street and along Tenth Avenue, on the southeastern New York Hospital grounds, Church of the Cathedral of St. John the Devine began an incomplete building project.
  • West 113th (irregularly) to 120th Street, spanning Broadway’s east to Tenth Avenue, this westerly New York hospital portion, was transformed into the Columbia-Barnard
  • Morningside Heights Campus.
  • West 113th to 117th Street, from Tenth Avenue atop the cliff, and running to Eighth Avenue below, Gerald de Peyster.