Bond Street & 64th Street, Southwest Corner

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Random corner #2

Looks like Wednesday is going to be Random Corner Day — or at least it was last Wednesday, and now this one too, so maybe that's the makings of a trend or at least a pattern, if not quite yet an institution.

Today's random number is 09823, which translates to the southwest corner of Columbus Avenue & 82nd Street.

Columbus (Ninth) Avenue & 82nd Street, Southwest Corner

And what about it?

(As with last week's Random Corner #1, the following is no more than a miscellany drawn from a few internet searches and standard reference works.)

"Columbus" Avenue because that's what this stretch of Ninth Avenue has been called ever since it was renamed, in 1890, in anticipation of the 400th anniversary of Columbus' "discovery" of America.

82nd Street, as usual, from the Commissioner's "grid" plan of 1807-1811.

The neighborhood — the Upper West Side — was called Bloemendal (Bloomingdale) by the 17th century Dutch settlers, and even up until the Civil War was a largely rural area, punctuated by a number of grand estates.

Development began in earnest after the Civil War, spurred in part by the creation of Central Park. In 1879 the Sixth and the Ninth Avenue Elevated lines were extended up Ninth Avenue to 81st Street, a block south of today's random corner; the El was subsequently (1891) extended on up past today's random corner to 116th Street (and later on to 155th Street and beyond as well).

The name change from "Ninth" to "Columbus" Avenue was part and parcel of a more general effort to develop the neighborhood as Manhattan's "West End" — around this time (1890) Eighth Avenue was renamed Central Park West (from 59th Street to 110th Street), Tenth Avenue became Amsterdam Avenue; Eleventh Avenue had become West End Avenue already in 1880. (for more, much more, on the development process of the Upper West Side, see Stern, Mellins, and Fishman's fabulous New York 1880.

Columbus and 82nd is a block north of the northwest corner of Calvert Vaux and Jacob Wrey Mould's 1877 American Museum of Natural History, the campus of which occupies the four blocks between Central Park West and Columbus from 77th Street up to 81st Street — in effect, if not officially, an extension of Central Park beyond its original Eighth Avenue western border./span>

Actually, however, these park-like four blocks substantially pre-date Central Park, having been provided for as "Manhattan Square," one of a handful of small parks in the Commission's plan of 1807-1811.

The Romanesque building seen on the corner extends the whole block down to 81st Street, Originally built 1889-91 as the Hotel Endicott and intended to rival the Dakota, on the park and half a mile to the south, it was converted to condominiums in the 1980s in the sweep of gentrification — or perhaps one should say: re-gentrification of the neighborhood that got underway in the 1970s, a process launched in the early 1960s with the creation of Lincoln Center a mile to the south.

Today the immediate neighborhood — and more — of Columbus Avenue and 82nd Street is well-established as a district of multi-million dollar apartments with upscale shops — like the Canine Ranch in the photo (above) — to match.

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