The experts say that the photograph to the left (It’s actually a daguerreotype) was taken on upper Broadway on what was once known as Bloomingdales Road. According to the NY Times, “the photo was discovered at a small New England auction, and the date and location of the image were taken from a note that was folded and placed behind the daguerreotype plate in its original leather case.” What is amazing about this image is that it illustrates that in a relatively short span of time, about 165 years, the city went from a rural farming community to a densely populated urban environment. Can you imagine the farmer who owned the property on Bloomingdales Road envisioning the future, and seeing houses as far as his eyes could see. His wife, or friends would have thought him insane.
The first apartment building constructed on the upper West Side was the Dakota, it opened in 1882. Edward Clark, who ran the the Singer Sewing Machine Company commissioned it’s construction around 1880. His goal was to lure the wealthy from crowded, dirty, lower Manhattan to the clean, fresh, upper west side. At the time, most people living in Manhattan resided below Chambers Street, eight miles South. If you take our New York City Tour you’ll learn the real story of the Dakota.
It became a grand success, offering unheard amenities like central heating and cross-ventilated rooms. No two rooms were alike, and many overlooked the newly finished Central Park. To this day, it is one of the most desirable, and surely one of the most difficult buildings to attain residence in. It has been home to a long list of notable names including Judy Garland, Leonard Bernstein, Lauren Bacall, Carson McCullers, Boris Karloff, Connie Chung, and Paul Simon. None was more famous than John Lennon, who lived there with his wife Yoko Ono until being senselessly murdered by a deranged fan in 1980. The building is also famously haunted, but I’ll have to let you discover that on your own.
In 1904, the Upper West Side was changed forever by the completion of the IRT subway. The subways, historically have been the great equalizers, allowing access for all to any area of the island. On our private New York City tours, you’ll have a chance to explore the neighborhoods of your choice. The subway played a major role in that diversification. Now, the #7 train is being extended from Times Square to 34th Street and 11th Avenue. This will create another community called Hudson Yards.
Manhattan’s complexity is almost beyond comprehension, a testament to the human intellect? So much done, in so short a time span. These photographs leave us unaware of the vast infrastructure that supports the city. Private New York tours will help us understand the complexity. The subway tunnels, the steam pipes, the sewage, the bridges, the tunnels, the interconnections of every single house or apartment onto the electric grid, the phones, the cellphones, thousands of miles of cable, the excavation of the water tunnels. The foresight to get these projects done, all occurred within a very brief period of time. What will the next hundred years hold in store for New York City?