By 1910, Morningside Heights was “The Acropolis of New York.” But it wasn’t always that way.
For Jane’s Walk, I’m leading a stroll I have titled
Morningside Depths: Lunatics, Orphans, and the 1890s Gentrification of Columbia’s Neighborhood
This walk will look into the early history of the area, framed in terms of three major institutions (and a number of secondary ones) that predate Columbia, St. John the Divine, Barnard, and the rest.
And how the area transformed in the 1890s.
When I was a kid at Columbia I heard the story framed in terms of city planning — the creation of the “acropolis of New York” was deliberate. Certainly in hindsight it all seems inevitable. But based on my research the real story is, inevitably, more complex and interesting than that.
Some things you’ll learn:
- Who was the Brewery Princess of early 1900s New York?
- What was the suicide curve, and did anyone actually kill themselves there?
- If the sun rises in the east, and this neighborhood is in the far west of the city, why isn’t it called “Eveningside Heights”?
- Did a saloon determine Columbia’s choice of mascot?
- What traces remain of the Bloomingdale Insane Asylum?
- What’s an effective way to leave someone a fortune and make them miserable at the same time?
- Where is the oldest extant building in Morningside Heights?
Here’s a hint on that last one:
I think it’ll be fun. Hopefully it’ll be interesting.
The walk is on Saturday, 5 May, starting at 11AM sharp, at 104th and Broadway. Registration link on MAS Website is here: