Author Archives: margot

The Old Post Road; or, Second Avenue at 43rd Street

The old Post Road of Colonial times traveled up the East Side from the foot of Manhattan before cutting west, entering what is now Central Park at 92nd Street, where it became, more or less, the current route of East … Continue reading

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Garbled Junk History, 1907

Farther up, the old Post Road passed Legget’s Black Horse Tavern on its west side, this was the advance post of the British, September 15, 1776, the day before the battle of Harlem. It stood at the seventh milestone (Ninety-sixth … Continue reading

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View from Fort Clinton, 1814

Another fine John Joseph Holland watercolor from the latter half of 1814, retrieved from the “emuseum” link at the New-York Historical Society. What is unusual about this image is that it looks east over the Harlem Creek leading to the … Continue reading

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The Shape-Shifting McGown House, 1814

We noted earlier how the McGowan’s Pass gatehouse radically changes shape as we go from one illustration to another. Stranger still is how the McGown house up on the hill seems to be re-imagined in each depiction. This lovely view … Continue reading

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Koch’s New Mount St. Vincent’s Hotel, 1880s

Occasionally one comes across mention of “Koch’s New Mount St. Vincent’s Hotel,” a quasi-rural roadhouse that opened in the vicinity of Hamilton Heights around 1883 or 1884, after the old Mount St. Vincent’s Hotel in Central Park burned down (in … Continue reading

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McGowan’s Hill, circa 1849

We just came across this remarkable etching of Mount St. Vincent’s Academy in an 1880s book on the school’s history (A Descriptive and Historical Sketch of the Academy of Mount St. Vincent… New York, Appleton & Co. 1884) . We … Continue reading

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The Sledge Is Back

Here again is that McGowan sledge we saw earlier, in a Valentine’s Manual etching: Full description reads: Andrew McGowan, of Harlem, New York, has an old sledge, dating as far back as 1783. On the back panel are the letters … Continue reading

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Tavern Was Not McGown House, Says Family Member (1881)

Through the magic of Googlebooks and archive.org, it is possible to find bits and pieces about McGowan’s Pass and the Black Horse Tavern, though these often contradict each other. In the excerpt below, the elderly Mr. S. Benson McGown (1797-1882?) … Continue reading

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The Mystery of the Old Gate-House

The 1814 fortifications and gatehouse were thrown together in a few weeks, and this led to some higgledy-piggledy construction (as can still be seen in the last-surviving structure, Blockhouse No. 1 in the North Woods). It also led to a … Continue reading

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The Mystery of McGowan’s Pass; or, Where the Switchback Came From

In the early 1860s the New York City Park Commission extended the northern boundary of Central Park from the line of 106th Street to 110th Street. It was a region of steep hills, cliffs, ravines, a marshy creekbed, and the … Continue reading

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