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1820s

Thu 08 2017 , by

Bygone Stables

From The New York Post:

The fascinating history behind NYC’s stables-turned-real estate

Washington Mews, a little alley north of Washington Square Park, is an urban gem. Still paved with Belgian block and lined with quaint cottages, it’s a Greenwich Village street that might as well be in Europe. In fact, cities like London and Paris are filled with these tiny picturesque thoroughfares, whose cute little homes once stabled horses, carriages and sleighs.

Due to quirks in New York’s history and design, these mews are exceedingly rare in the city, making carriage-house living both scarce and coveted. Often disguised behind modest, original facades, many converted carriage homes contain architectural wonders hidden from view.

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Washington Mews: One of Manhattan’s rare alleys lined with former stables, this stretch was designed to service a row of 1830s homes along Washington Square Park.Annie Wermiel/NY Post

Take investor David Aldea’s home at 23 Cornelia St., which Taylor Swift rented in 2016. The 5,500-square-foot West Village pad was asking $40,000/month then, and is on the market with Corcoran for $24.5 million. Walking down the street, the home’s massive, arched wooden doors hint at its 1912 carriage house origins, but the unprepossessing facade might not stop passersby in their tracks.

Upon entering, however, it’s clear this is no ordinary stable: today, the garden level is graced by a 25-foot swimming pool, while an ornate Murano glass chandelier hangs from double-height ceilings. But, as Aldea notes, despite these modern touches, original details abound, particularly in the living room, where there are “24-inch square windows that would have been for the horses to stick their heads out for ventilation.”

Considering the fact that New York was a horse-and-carriage town for so many centuries, it’s surprising that there aren’t more such conversions. That’s in part because most remnants of the city’s colonial days are long gone. Also, Manhattan’s populated areas used to be far more compact; their borders barely extended north of today’s City Hall until the 1820s. The majority of New Yorkers, it seems, walked almost everywhere nearly two centuries ago.

A new street layout in the first decades of the 19th century helped the city expand, and travel by private carriage became more common — but only for the city’s elite. So few New Yorkers could afford to maintain a horse that when a commission laid out the city’s famous grid in 1811, the plan purposely excluded rear alleys for stables. Even by the Civil War, a mere 3 percent of NYC residents owned their own horses and carriages.

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Annie Wermiel/NY Post

A few early mews still exist. Take Washington Mews, which was erected behind the stately homes of “The Row,” one of New York’s first planned “terraces” of homes — a clear sign that the 1832-built Washington Square townhouses were only for the well-heeled.

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Our New Exhibit begins : July 11

Controversial  elections, voting rights, abolition and slavery!  In 1820s New York, while these issues burned in  the minds of the public—newspapers exploded  and competed  as  forums for debate!    This exhibit looks at the newly exploding  newspaper industry  of the 1820s –and the entry of  women and African Americans into the business of print.

At Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden

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