Monday’s History Lesson: A Thriving Community In Central Park

As you take your last weekend strolls through Central Park over the next couple of weeks to gaze at the changing colors of Fall, consider the fact that back in 1825, you could buy a few lots of land in Central Park for $125.

By 1855, the residents of Seneca Village had been forced to leave the community that they built from scratch, vacating the sparsely populated rural area above 59th St for the construction of a new park.  Even before the Civil War, Eminent Domain was still a threat to some New Yorkers and ownership of Manhattan land was hotly contested.  Hundreds of people were thought to have lived and worked in the West 80’s between 7th and 8th Avenues, forming a thriving settlement of primarily African-American landowners.  History seems to have lost the reasoning behind why this village was referred to as “Seneca Village,” as it was mostly inhabited by African-American landowners, as well as other minorities at the time…including English, Irish and German settlers.

Altogether, Seneca Village covered about 5 acres of what eventually became the 843-acre National Historic Landmark that we know and love today.  The community of outcasts boasted a school and three churches to serve the needs of the isolated families.  There is little to be known about the inter-workings of the village, but we do know that it served as one of New York’s first melting pots.  People of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds found refuge in Seneca Village, with residents escaping hard situations like famine and slavery.  This place let people start fresh with their own property, the right to vote, and a sense of community.

The Corner of a Seneca Village Church, across from Spector Playground at W85th St Entrance.

Seneca Village was finally swallowed up by the city in October 1857, one hundred and fifty-five years ago this month.  It is said that there are not any known descendants of the original Seneca Villagers, but their history lives on through the churches they founded.  The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church was one of the three churches in Seneca Village.  Today the “AME Zion Church” has 1.4 million members.

All Angels Episcopal Church was started by nearby St. Michael’s Church as a mission to cater to the unique and often rejected population of Seneca Village.  At the time, there was segregation even in many New York Churches.  All Angels was said to be attended by Europeans and African-Americans worshiping side by side.  After a century and a half of eviction, construction, and demolition, that same All Angels Church is still open in it’s former parish house on 80th and Broadway.  Keeping with their initial mission that dates back to Seneca Village, All Angels has special services and community support and for today’s downtrodden and homeless New Yorkers.

Next time you’re walking around Central Park in the West 80’s imagine yourself back in the days of Seneca Village, one of New York’s first true melting pots!

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Monday’s History Lesson: Avenue A renamed…5 times!

Most New Yorkers know of Ave A as a North-South running thoroughfare in Manhattan’s East Village.  The Ave A we are familiar with stretches from E 14th St all the way down to E Houston St, where it becomes Essex St.  However, this short stretch was only a small part of a what Ave A was originally designated as under the Commissioners’ Plan of 1811, which established Manhattan’s street grid as we know it today.  An observant New Yoker will notice some small clues that point to past, when Ave A would be an Upper East Side and East Harlem address!

When you look at the grand structure of PS 158, an elementary school opened in the late 1800’s, you’ll notice some detailing on the concrete that marks E 78th St and Ave A.  When PS 158 was constructed, Ave A was not only an East Village span, but also a bi-directional Avenue that ran from East 53rd St all the way up to 91st st and then from E 114th St to E 120th St.  In recognizing the need for development of land east of First Ave, The Commissioners’ Plan of 1811 dealt with Manhattan’s curves in and out along the East River by adding some extra Avenues named with letters instead of numbers.  Those new North-South, bidirectional thoroughfares were designated Avenues A, B, C, and D.

From top to bottom, Ave A was a disconnected avenue interrupted by the winding banks of the East River, but with one name and continuous address numbers.  Now, the physical streets originally called Ave A are now known by 6 different names.

  • “Ave A” – E. Houston St to E 14th Sts
    Retains original name.
  • “Asser Levy Place” – E 23rd to E 25th Sts (Renamed in 1947 with construction of Stuyvesant Town)
    Named after one of Manhattan’s first Dutch/Jewish settlers, who lived in the 1600’s.
  • “Sutton Place South” – E 53rd to E 57th Sts (Renamed after the creation of Sutton Place)
  • “Sutton Place” E 57th to E 59th St (Renamed between 1875-1883)
    Named after Effringham B. Sutton, a developer who built a cluster of brownstones on this stretch around 1875 and is said to have named the stretch after himself.
  • “York Ave” – E 59th to E 91st Sts (Renamed in 1928)
    Named after Sgt. Alvin York, a World War I hero and Medal of Honor recipient.  Sgt. York led an attack on a German machine gun nest and his life story was portrayed in the 1941 Howard Hanks movie “Sergeant York,” starring Gary Cooper.
  • “Pleasant Ave” – E 114th to E 120th Sts (Renamed in 1879)

So there you have it!  Ave A has a long history of people and communities that used their Eastward isolation and the curvature of the East River to rename their own individual sections of what used to be known as Ave A!

 

 

Posted in Monday History Lesson, Uncategorized | 1,661 Comments

Monday’s History Lesson: Columbus Day Parade

Although it became a Federal holiday in 1937, the Columbus Citizens Foundation has been organizing parades in New York City to commemorate the accomplishments of Italian explorer Christopher Columbus since 1929.  Before our Federal government decided to set the observance of Columbus’ accomplishments for the second Monday in October, the state of Colorado had officially been celebrating Columbus day for 27 years, since 1907!

Here in New York, however, we have one of the biggest celebrations, spearheaded by our large Italian-American population.  This huge celebration that runs along 5th Ave from 44th to 72nd Sts had humble beginnings involves upwards of 35,000 marchers per year.  According to the Columbus Citizen’s Foundation, “On October 12, 1929, New York City businessman and Italian immigrant Generoso Pope led a parade from East Harlem down to Columbus Circle for the very first time.”  Since then, the parade has grown to involve millions of marchers and spectators over the years, and proceeds from ceremonies go towards the advancement of Italian-American students.

If you had the day off, we hope you were able to enjoy the 68th Annual Columbus Day Parade in New York City!

(Image courtesy of: The Kheel Center – http://www.flickr.com/photos/kheelcenter/5279530450/)

Posted in Monday History Lesson | 1,893 Comments

All aboard the City Connections cocktail cruise!

From the Grateful Dead to spin classes, City Connections CEO David Schlamm loves sharing his passions with the rest of the team. But until very recently, most agents and staff had only heard about his love of sailing. On September 6, David chartered a 145-foot luxury yacht for a cocktail cruise with agents, staff, and other City Connections’ business associates. (Don’t worry, Captain Schlamm left the sailing to the professionals!)

The group sailed the Hudson and East Rivers aboard the Atlantica and enjoyed dancing, hors d’oeuvres, an open bar, and incredible views of the NYC skyline and Statue of Liberty.

“I wanted to do something for everyone now, instead of waiting for a standard holiday party,” David said. “I thought this was the perfect time…not only for a celebration, but to show my appreciation for them, too.”

The cruise was such an amazing experience that it may become the next City Connections tradition. Anchors aweigh!

Check out more cruise photos on our Facebook page!

Posted in Agent Spotlight | 1,780 Comments

I LINK NY: September 10, 2012

What’s the second most expensive place to live in the U.S.? It’s not San Francisco anymore. It’s Brooklyn!

Check out these 10 things you didn’t know were covered by renter’s insurance. (Isn’t it about time you got some?)

Don’t make these five common emotional mistakes when buying a home.

NYC parents, take note: 10 smart ideas for a small indoor play space.

(Image via OurTravelPics.com)

Posted in Buying in NYC, Decor, DIY, Renting in NYC | 1,579 Comments

The Real Deal names City Connections one of NYC’s best firms to work for!

We’re always thrilled to be in The Real Deal, but we’re especially proud of our latest mention as one of NYC’s best real estate firms to work for!

City Connections was recognized for its unique bonding activities. Here’s an excerpt:

Forget happy hour at your local watering hole: For City Connections brokers, bonding sessions start with discount exercise classes and tributes to the Grateful Dead.

Company founder David Schlamm has paid for tickets to see Dark Star Orchestra, a 15-year-old group that re-creates Grateful Dead concerts right down to historical set lists. About 29 City Connections agents caught the band at a recent show at the Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg.

Schlamm also sponsors a monthly Spin N’ Salad night, featuring a private spinning class at the New York Health & Racquet Club, followed by a dinner of salad and frozen yogurt.

About 15 agents have participated, and Schlamm said his thrice-weekly spinning classes have helped him lose 35 pounds. “I hope to lead by example for anyone who wants to get healthy,” he said.

We were also mentioned as both a top high-split-commission firm and a firm with its own listings database.

Interested in working at City Connections? Learn more about us!

Posted in Agent Spotlight | 1,795 Comments

New York Ditty: “Un Verano en Nueva York” by El Gran Combo

A picture’s worth a thousand words, but what about a song?

Each week, we’ll be sharing different music dedicated to NYC. Today’s song is a lively salsa tribute to summer in New York. That said, we’re ready for fall!

Posted in New York Ditty | 1,810 Comments

I LINK NY: September 4, 2012

From Sex and the City to Friends to Seinfeld, the crazy floorplans of some of TV’s most unrealistic homes.

You were told common charges before you bought your condo, but now they’re higher. So what gives, and what can you do about it?

Interesting trend: Some creative businesses are opting for retail storefronts instead of normal office spaces. Can you guess why?

Here lives the bride. More and more NYC couples are getting married in their NYC apartment buildings.

(Image via BuzzFeed)

Posted in Buying in NYC, Decor, DIY, Everyday NYC, Renting in NYC | 1,776 Comments

New York Ditty: “Manhattan” by Ella Fitzgerald

A picture’s worth a thousand words, but what about a song?

Each week, we’ll be sharing different music dedicated to NYC. Today’s song is about moving to New York with your love and living happily ever after. It romanticizes everything about the city – from the subway to baloney on a roll.

Posted in New York Ditty | 1,806 Comments

I LINK NY: August 27, 2012

Let’s talk about some unique apartment buying situations in NYC. 1) The risks of buying into a condo or co-op conversion and 2) what to know before buying a pre-construction apartment.

Where there’s a door, there’s some storage. Here are 15 brilliant over-the-door storage options.

Good news: This NYC real estate expert says the market’s the best it’s been since 2007!

(Image via Downtown Life)

Posted in Buying in NYC, Decor, Renting in NYC, Selling in NYC | 1,814 Comments