These charming wooden row houses, lining both sides of narrow Sylvan Terrace, were built around 1882 on what was then a private street carved out of the estate surrounding the Morris-Jumel Mansion. Today, with its identically painted facades and Belgian block pavement, Sylvan Terrace feels like a place out of time, especially when you're looking in the other direction toward the mansion. Check it out for yourself in Street View.
UPDATE: You can see photos and floor plans of the interiors of a couple of these houses here and here.
The illuminated apartment house in the background is Audubon Hall; the one in front is the Grinnell. Here's a circa 1910 photo of the Grinnell showing some decorative roof adornments that have since been removed.
These buildings stand in a section of Washington Heights once known as Audubon Park, a residential area that grew out of the wooded estate (map) of the famed ornithologist and illustrator John James Audubon. (You can view online the full collection of Audubon's stunning illustrations from his landmark work Birds of America.) In the years after Audubon's death in 1851, his family gradually sold off their property; by 1873, most of Audubon Park was owned by the Grinnell family.
The fittingly middle-named George Bird Grinnell was taught as a young boy by Audubon's widow, Lucy, and would go on to become a noted naturalist in his own right. Known to many as "the father of American conservation", he founded the original Audubon Society and was the driving force behind the creation of Glacier National Park.
This building really stands out on this block, where it's the only one of 14 structures on the north side that's not a flat-fronted, five- or six-story apartment house. It was purchased in 1909 for future use as the rectory of the Church of Our Lady of Esperanza, which was completed in 1912 a block away on Audubon Terrace. A book about the church published in 1921 lists this address for the rectory, but a 1925 expansion project provided space for the rectory inside the church itself. This building is still owned by Our Lady of Esperanza, but I'm not sure what its function is these days.
to the Morris-Jumel Mansion, Manhattan's oldest surviving house, which was indeed George Washington's headquarters for a few weeks in the fall of 1776 during the Revolutionary War.
I was headed somewhere in the East Village when I happened upon this tribute to trash pick-up day painted on the roll-down gates of Best Hou ekeeping.
Tucked in between rows of houses and a freight rail line is the Metropolitan Oval, established by German- and Hungarian-Americans in 1925. The Oval, which has long been "the epicenter of immigrant soccer in New York City", existed for much of its history as a grassless, dusty expanse in "various states of disrepair", but it has been looking pretty sharp since a thorough refurbishment was completed in 2001.
(The inconspicuous entrance to the Oval is located at 60th Court and 60th Street, one of the ten intersections in Maspeth where 60th meets 60th.)
The infamous street-numbering system of Queens most fully realizes its tremendous potential for ridiculousness here in Maspeth, where ten different 60th-and-60th intersections can be found (map). The complete list is as follows:
60th Street and 60th Avenue
60th Street and 60th Road
60th Street and 60th Drive
60th Street and 60th Court
60th Place and 60th Avenue
60th Place and 60th Drive
60th Place and 60th Court
60th Lane and 60th Avenue
60th Lane and 60th Road
60th Lane and 60th Drive
From The Catcher in the Rye:
But while I was sitting down, I saw something that drove me crazy. Somebody'd written "Fuck you" on the wall. It drove me damn near crazy. I thought how Phoebe and all the other little kids would see it, and how they'd wonder what the hell it meant, and then finally some dirty kid would tell them--all cockeyed, naturally--what it meant, and how they'd all think about it and maybe even worry about it for a couple of days. I kept wanting to kill whoever'd written it.
. . .
I went down by a different staircase, and I saw another "Fuck you" on the wall. I tried to rub it off with my hand again, but this one was scratched on, with a knife or something. It wouldn't come off. It's hopeless, anyway. If you had a million years to do it in, you couldn't rub out even half the "Fuck you" signs in the world. It's impossible.
. . .
I was the only one left in the [Egyptian] tomb [at the Metropolitan Museum of Art] then. I sort of liked it, in a way. It was so nice and peaceful. Then, all of a sudden, you'd never guess what I saw on the wall. Another "Fuck you." It was written with a red crayon or something, right under the glass part of the wall, under the stones.
That's the whole trouble. You can't ever find a place that's nice and peaceful, because there isn't any. You may think there is, but once you get there, when you're not looking, somebody'll sneak up and write "Fuck you" right under your nose. Try it sometime. I think, even, if I ever die, and they stick me in a cemetery, and I have a tombstone and all, it'll say "Holden Caulfield" on it, and then what year I was born and what year I died, and then right under that it'll say "Fuck you." I'm positive, in fact.
This is an odd spot on the NYC street map. The Lower Montauk Branch of the Long Island Rail Road, in the foreground, passes over the through lanes of Flushing Avenue, at bottom, while the local lanes of Flushing Avenue, on the upper level, terminate on either side of the Lower Montauk tracks. If you're not following my unintelligible description of what's going on here, this aerial view should prove much more elucidating.