Sunday, December 4, 2016

The High Bridge and the Park

High Bridge, New York c. 1880
Tinted Stereoview by the New York Stereoscopic Co.




Welcome to The High Bridge -- Its Past, Present & Future website.  This site connects all interested parties on exciting developments associated with The High Bridge, Highbridge Park, and the immediately surrounding area.

We are in the process of sprucing up our site and making it more presentable.  As most of you already know, the High Bridge was reopened on June 9, 2015 after about 45 years of having been closed and years of planning and reconstruction.  The adjacent Highbridge Park is also undergoing extensive refurbishment as part of the NYCPlan 2030, and the immediate neighborhood near the Park, particularly along Amsterdam and Edgecombe avenues is starting to experience a renaissance with building renovations and new commercial ventures.
With this in mind, we are now shifting gears away from the reconstruction of The High Bridge to the other improvements that will be forthcoming.  We also recognize that there will be more visitors to the bridge, the Highbridge Park, and the surrounding areas, so we will be providing more information for those who do not have familiarity with the area and its attractions. 
At present the public funding for the improvements and redevelopment effort for the Bridge and the Park have exceeded $130 Million. On Jan. 11, 2013 Mayor Michael Bloomberg broke ground on the construction phase of the plan for the redevelopment of the High Bridge and the cost of reopening the bridge has been publicized at $61.8 Million. Just in 2016, $30 Million of additional funds have been allocated to Highbridge Park by Mayor De Blasio as part of the Anchor Park initiative.

On June 9, 2015, the official reopening ceremony of the High Bridge occurred. (Please see the specific posts for this event).  On July 25, 2015 the High Bridge Festival celebrating the reopening of the High Bridge occurred.

There are many other activities progressing simultaneously with the redevelopment of the High Bridge. This web site focuses on the developments in and immediately adjacent to The High Bridge and Highbridge Park.  Please make sure to scroll down to see previous posts on new and exciting developments.

It is our belief that with this site we can foster an appreciation of the past, an understanding of the present and a catalyst for the development of the future needs of this immediate area.

Hopefully, we will find common ground to dramatically improve the buildings, the retail establishments and the quality of life in such a way as to compliment the redevelopment effort associated with the High Bridge and High Bridge Park and make this area a destination for more of the millions of residents of New York City and some of the more than tens of millions of visitors who come to New York City each year.



Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, Sept 6, 1879


Please contact us and let us know if you have any interests in participating as a contributor, volunteer, or merely to coordinate with your community organization, or even if you are just an interested neighborhood resident. If you want to contribute to the site with any comments please feel free to do so.

Organizationally, we have been adding information to each page as it is appropriate.  You should return to pages on a regular and frequent basis to catch up on latest developments on each topic.  We have also provided for reader feedback at the bottom of each topic.

There are almost 200 posts with information and pictures on all sorts of topics. Information about the history of the High Bridge and the building of the aqueduct, articles about what is going on right now, and articles about the future changes that we all hope will come to the High Bridge, the park, and the surrounding neighborhoods. Please click on the Area of Interest on the right and a whole host of topics will present themselves. Or, you may scroll through the archive of articles on the right to find and article of interest to you. Or, you may also search by keyword in the box provided at the right above the archive listings. Or, you may just scroll down and look at the articles in chronological order going backward in time.

 If you are experiencing any difficulty using our site please let us know.

Please subscribe to our newsletter.


last modified 7/28/2015

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Report on the Visioning Meeting on the Highbridge Park on November 28

This past Monday, on  November 28, at 6:30 p.m. NYC Parks and our elected officials  hosted a Community Visioning Session at Highbridge Recreation Center (173rd St. & Amsterdam Ave.) for Highbridge Park. The purpose was to share ideas, concerns and hopes for this 130-acre park stretching from West 155th Street up to Dyckman Street in northern Manhattan.  The meeting had over a hundred attendees and officials were ecstatic to see so many different people representing such diverse parts of the community at the meeting.  

Highbridge Park is one of only five parks in the city selected to receive $30 million in improvements through Mayor de Blasio’s Anchor Parks program, which is part of NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver’s Framework for an Equitable Future – a commitment to create thriving public spaces for all New Yorkers.   The Anchor Parks program is an idea of making the older, larger parks in New York City, and revitalizing them as major spaces for their respective communities. 
There are three stages for this process:  Design, Procurement, and Construction.  In total, it will take several years until we see the end product for Highbridge. The last major renovation for Highbridge took place in 2013 as part of an upland forest restoration program.  This program was especially important for Highbridge, which has an ecology that cannot be found in any other part of New York City.  

At the meeting, there were about 15 tables with about 7-10 people at each one,  and each table came along with a massive picture map of Highbridge to aid people in the input they would have for the meeting.  Additionally, there were two representatives at each table from the Parks Department who were there to act as guides and answer questions.  After going through some slides about the history of the park and some general ideas for inspiration, each table was asked to spent about half an hour coming up with ideas about what they would like to see done in this capital project cycle, and each table would then vote on their top three improvements and additions that they would like to see done.  After that, one person from each table presented their discussion and ideas to the whole auditorium of people. 

The following points represent the bulk of ideas that were mentioned by the attendees:

  •  Adding lighting throughout the park
  •  Installing water fountains
  •  Adding comfort stations (bathrooms) 
  •  Updating playgrounds and adding outdoor fitness equipment for adults
  •  Improving pathways and increasing connectivity between the northern and southern ends of         the park
  •  Adding benches
  •  Improving access to natural areas/trails, and fixing staircases
  • Adding wayfinding signage in multiple languages
  • Making park entrances that are more welcoming with greeting, gardens, and landscaping
Now the landscape architects are tasked with trying to accommodate as many of these suggestions as possible, within the footprint of the park and the project budget, in the proposed design.
Other proposals, such as improving maintenance and security, and increased publicity for public programming, will have to be addressed separately since they are outside the scope of a capital project. There will be Community Report Back Meeting in early 2017.  

If you were unable to attend the meeting or you have some additional thoughts you’re in luck! You can still submit your ideas online here (https://www.nycgovparks.org/planning-and-building/capital-project-tracker/project/8580) through December 12, 2016.   Click the green “Share Your Thoughts” button on the bottom left side of the page.
NYC Parks & Rec wants to hear from as many Highbridge Park users as possible. With your help, we can make sure that everyone has a chance to contribute to this effort. Please tell your friends, family and colleagues about this online form.

Please stay tuned for more details.  

Ben Kohanim



Saturday, November 19, 2016

When the Ice Age Came to Washington Heights -- The Washington Heights Ice Corporation -- and the Palais de Glace

Washington Heights Ice Corporation under construction,
W. 168th Street and Jumel Place, New York City, September 22, 1917.
Courtesy of the New York Historical Society. Rights reserved.
William Davis Hassler, photographer.
The Ice Age came to Washington Heights in the very early part of the 20th century.  There are two notable companies related to the newly developed refrigeration industry that came with the electrification of New York. They were both located right near Highbridge Park.  While both produced ice, they were very different types of establishments.

The Washington Heights Ice Corporation -- 168th Street and Jumel Place

As we have reported earlier, in a post about Dorman L Ormsby, the grandson of the founder of the Dorman L. Ormsby Soda Co., Dorman L. Ormsby III sold the bottling company in 1905. Then, in 1907, Dorman L. Ormsby III shot and killed the new owner of the establishment, Frederick Wehmann

By 1917, at the very site of the former location of Ormsby's Mineral Water Company, a new building was under construction.  The Washington Heights Ice Corporation was building a large facility to produce artificial ice.

Until the early 1900s almost all ice used in New York City, as well as all other colder climates around the world, was obtained from natural ice harvested in the wintertime from frozen fresh water sources (in the case of New York City this was the Hudson River and the lakes in the Catskill Mountain area). Ice harvested from these sources in the winter was then stored in special ice houses, some along the Hudson River, which were very well insulated and permitted the ice to be used throughout the rest of the next spring, summer and fall seasons. The Knickerbocker Ice Company, founded by John J. Felter, John G. Perry, and Edward Felter in 1831, was one of these companies. In years when there was not much natural ice harvested the cost of ice would skyrocket, and, in turn, this would cause food products that needed refrigeration for preservation to increase in price to the consumer.  With the advent of electrical power distribution in New York City it was then possible to produce ice artificially with refrigeration equipment.

During World War I, (1917) in an attempt to make sure there was a plentiful supply of ice for refrigerated food products the State of New York through the Office of the Ice Comptroller, fixed the price of artificial ice at $4.40 a ton.  During the summer of 1918, the amount of natural ice production was high due to the preceding cold winter,  The Washington Heights Ice Corporation, desiring to sell ice and make a profit on their recent investment for the facility they built in 1917, took the Ice Comptroller to task and started selling ice at $3.00 a ton.  In turn, the Ice Comptroller revoked the manufacturing license of the company. The Washington Heights Ice Corporation took the Ice Comptroller to court to force him to restore their license and thereby allow them to sell the ice at the lower price.

In 1919 the court ruled that the Ice Comptroller acted without authority and therefore void and dismissed the summons against the firm.  The Ice Comptroller, Benjamin Odell, who had since become the Governor of New York State subsequently signed a bill abolishing the Office of the Ice Comptroller.

Even with the price controls removed, both the artificial and natural ice production industries were to be short lived.  With the advent of electric powered refrigerators the need for ice in homes and businesses diminished tremendously.  It is not known when the Washington Heights Ice Corporation ceased producing ice.

The Palais de Glace (Ice Palace)   --  500 W. 181st Street.

We are not sure of the exact date the 181st Street Ice Palace rink opened, but it was in the 1910s (the earliest reference I could find was for 1916) and it was a big success. It was located at the southwest corner of 181st Street and Amsterdam Ave. (this location was subsequently occupied by a gas station and a White Castle diner, then in the 1970s the White Castle was demolished and the Shell Gasoline station expanded to the entire block from 180th to 181st St. facing Amsterdam Ave.). The rink was modelled after the famous Palais de Glace on the Champs-Élysées in Paris and the Palais de Glace in Buenos Aires Argentina. Not only did the rink have electrical refrigeration equipment to make the ice, but it also had a special vehicle constructed to "scrape" the ice smooth.

The Ice Scraping machine at the 181st Street Ice Palace
A rebuilt Ford with an electric motor, a specially fitted blade for scraping
and a 70 foot extension cord coming from the rafters
From the Edison Monthly, Edison Electric Company, January 1922.


Columbia University used the ice rink for their hockey team practice and games, and the American Olympic team also used the rink in preparation for the first winter sports at the 1920 Summer Olympics and for the first Winter Olympics Games of 1924 in Chamonix in the French Alps. There is no reference to the Ice Palace after 1925.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

ALBERT KRUMENAKER, Beer Bottler, 512 & 514 W. 166th St., N.Y.


We have found yet another bottle from an establishment within one block of Highbridge Park and close to the other two bottles we have already reported on here (Adolf Linser, Pharmacy & Dorman Ormsby, Brewer).  All three bottles were from approximately the same time period from just about the end of the 19th century through the very beginning of the 20th century -- well over one hundred years ago!

This bottle is a 9 1/4 inch high clear glass beer bottle.  It is embossed on the front of the bottle - ALBERT KRUMENAKER (arched), REGISTERED, KA monogram. TRADE MARK, heart and vines motif, 512 & 514 W 166th ST., N.Y. Embossed on reverse side of bottle above base rim ( heel)  -    B & M S CO. Embossed on bottom of bottle - II

Albert Krumenaker was the son of Peter Krumenaker (b. Milhausen, Germany) and Magdalena "Helen" Herscher (b. Mulhouse, Alsace Lorraine, France [before the Franco Prussian War of 1871, thereafter part of Germany])

1864  Albert Krumenaker birth (b. Dec. 1, 1864), Milhausen, Germany - d. Aug 6, 1927, New York).  

View of driver and passenger in Gramm-Logan truck owned by George Ehret, brewer. Sign on side of truck reads: "George Ehret's, New York, lager beer, bottled by Albert Krumenaker, 508-514 W. 166th St., telephone 69 Audubon."  with permission Detroit Public Library 
https://digitalcollections.detroitpubliclibrary.org/islandora/object/islandora%3A176863
 

The building in this picture behind the truck is that of the Krumenaker Bottling Co. 506-512 W. 166th St.  The apartment above the bottling company was where the the Krumenaker's lived.      The building to the left behind the bottling company is 2134 Amsterdam Ave. which was built in 1910.
1884  Albert emigrates to the United States at the age of 20. Upon arriving in New York had no trade and did not speak English.  

He was initially employed by the Harlem Bottling Company where he worked for four years.

1888  Albert starts his own bottling company on 115th Street and Amsterdam Ave. He bottled beer for a brewery called the Hell Gate Brewery, owned by George Ehret.  After a fire in 1880 at Ehret's brewery in the Yorkville section of Manhattan, Ehret relied heavily upon other companies to do the bottling for his beer.  Krumenaker was one of the bottlers he relied upon.  Initially, he was producing five half barrels per day. 

There is a good biography of George Ehret and his successful brewing company in History Of German Immigration In The United States: And Successful German-Americans And Their Descendants, by George Von Skal, 1910, and also in a New York Times article from 2005.


1890 Albert married Katherine, "Kattie"(nee Bergen) (b. Jan. 1864, Germany - d. Jul. 1904, New York).  Albert, Jr. (b. Sept. 1890, New York - d. Jan. 1949, New Hampshire) born later in the year.  By this time, Albert was processing 75 half barrels a day, had three wagons, and three employees.

1893 Krumenaker moves his bottling company and his family to W. 166th St. and Amsterdam Ave.  It was at this time that he had 15 employees and 15 wagons.

1894 The Krumenaker's second son, Peter Peter (b. Sept. 1894, New York), is born.

1898 Trow's Business Directory. Albert Krumenaker, bottler 512 W. 166th St. 

1900 US Census.  Krumenaker Bottlers, 512 W. 166th St. NY, NY Beer Bottling Establishment, Albert with wife Kattie and two children: Albert and Peter.

Excerpt from "Documents of the Assembly of the State of New York, Volume 29, for the year 1901.


"Mr. Moss -- Officer Joseph O'Brien was tried before Commissioner Hess.  The specification upon which the officer was tried was as follows:  "Said patrolman Joseph O'Brien was absent from the post and was in the beer bottling establishment of Albert Krumenaker at 512 and 514 West 166th St. at 10 pm, November 30, 1898, during his tour of patrol duty; and while in said place did assault said Albert Krumenaker with his club, striking him on the head, and causing a severe scalp wound."  Captain William F. Kirchner testified that being called on by Mrs. Krumenaker and being told that her husband had been assaulted by an officer, he went to the place of business of the gentleman and found Mr. Krumenaker sitting in the office entirely covered with blood and asked him how it happened.  He said:  "Officer O'Brien came into his place and got some beer and when requested to leave the place so he could retire he got into an altercation and assaulted him with his club."  The officer admitted that he went in there; left his place and went in there.  Mrs. Krumenaker testified that she was in bed and she heard her husband screaming for help.  She jumped out of bed and ran down stairs and found her husband lying on the floor and the officer over him.  "He was not striking him; he had him down.  I screamed for help and Mr Gudlich heard me and came in and helped me pull him out."  Mr. Gunlich corroborated that.  That, sir, was assault in the first or second degree; certainly a felony.  He was found guilty and fined thirty days' pay."

1904 July 30, Katherine dies in New York, age 40.

At the height of his business Albert Krumenaker had 96 employees and 65 wagons and processed 600 half barrels a day.

1905 NYS Census shows Albert with two children, no wife.

An interesting and provocative article in Harper's Weekly, on Feb 3, 1906, "The Krumenaker Papers ." indicates that Albert, Sr. was a widower and actively courting Emma Huber as early as August 27, 1905.  Albert got cold feet about the engagement and Emma sued him for $25,000 for a broken heart after he called off the marriage.

1910 US Census shows Albert is married to, second wife, Marie (b. 1864, Germany), Albert still has same two children at the same address on 166th St. Additionally it shows that Albert, Sr. is now a naturalized citizen.  

In a supplement to the History Of German Immigration In The United States: And Successful German-Americans And Their Descendants, by George Von Skal, Albert Krumenaker was also included:
Albert Krumenaker, Sr.


1914 Trow's Business Directory shows Albert, Sr. still at 512 W. 166th St. as a "bottler."

1915 NYS Census 
Albert, Sr. lives at 504 W. 166th St. NY NY Albert, Sr.  Did Albert, Sr. buy the building east of the bottling operation? Or, maybe he expanded the operations and converted his old living quarters to commercial space? Additional investigation seems to support the theory that there is no address of "504 W. 166th St."  This must have been a census taker error of some sort.  The building to the east of the Krumenaker operations is 2134 Amsterdam Ave.
Albert, Jr. (age 25) lives at 2224 Audubon Ave with Mabel, his wife.

1917 January 6, New York City Marriage Records Albert Sr. marries Emma Schlig (b. 1880, Albany, NY- ), his third wife.

1917 Draft Registration, June 5,  Albert, Jr., bottling manager for Albert Krumenaker.

 
Albert, Jr. vital statistics: Age 27, Height 6', Eyes blue, Build Stout, Hair Brown, Not bald.

1920 US Census shows Albert, Sr. at 560 W 165th St with wife Emma (b. 1880, Albany, NY- ) 
while at 510-12 W 166th St. it shows Albert, Jr. (age 30) as still being married to Mabel (nee Rubeor)    (b. 1890, New York).  Jr. lists occupation as "bottling manager".
Curiously, Jr. shows father as French, and mother as Swiss and  Mabel shows her parents are from English speaking Canada. Also living with Jr. and Mabel is Ruth Rubeor, a niece of Mabel [see Rubeor under Krumenaker in 1930 US Census below], age 5.

1925 NYS Census shows Albert, Sr. living with wife, Emma (b. 1878) on 165th St. and Albert, Jr.,  and Mabel and Albert, III (b. 1923, New York) all living at 512 W. 166th St.  This is the last date found for the Krumenaker's at the 166th St. address.
Peter (b. 1894) is now married to Esther (b. 1898) and living in Queens.

There is no accurate information for when the Albert Krumenaker Bottling Company closed. Prohibition was from 1920 to 1933 and many brewers closed their operations during this period.

1927 Albert, Sr. (b. 1864) dies.

1930 US Census shows Mabel, married head of household (husband, not recorded), and her son, Albert G. Krumenaker, Jr. (b. 1923, New York), age 7, living on Brattleboro Rd., Hinsdale, Cheshire, NH. Mabel is living with her mother, Freeda Rubeor, who was born in Sweden (this conflicts with the 1920 US Census which stated her parents were from English speaking Canada). 

Albert III, in an interview, has reported that Mabel divorced Albert, Jr. and he and his mother moved to New Hampshire due to his health (lung ailment).  Albert III was having difficulty breathing in New York City.  Also according to Albert III, Mabel remarried, becoming a Quigley.  She then divorced her second husband and moved back in with Albert Jr. again, but did not marry him.

1940 US Census  shows Albert, Jr. (head of household) age 49, living with son, Albert, III., age 17, and Mabel Quigley, as housekeeper (age 49) in Hinsdale, NH. Albert, Jr. is shown as a bottling plant supervisor. 

1940 AT&T New York Telephone Directory shows no Krumenaker in NYC

1942 Albert, Jr., age 52 registers for the draft for a second time for WWII.

1949, Jan 6, Albert, Jr. dies in NH.

1951 April 25, Albert III marries Kathleen V. Smith.

1952 March 22, Albert III and Kathleen have a child  Karen Krumenaker.

1953 November 30, Albert III and Kathleen have a second child Albert G. Krumenaker (IV).

Sometime between 1953 and 1958 Albert III divorces Kathleen or she dies.

1958, March 23, Albert III marries Elizabeth Myra Roberts

1998 Albert G, IV is living in Keene NH

2016 Albert G, Krumenaker, Jr. (III), age 93, currently lives in Claremont, NH   

last revision 11/22/2016







Monday, November 7, 2016

Highbridge Park Visioning Meeting -- November 28, 6:30 PM




The City of New York has designated Highbridge Park as one of five Anchor Parks for the city
In an effort to meet that objective, NYC Parks is investing an additional $30 million to further 
transform Highbridge Park. Large parks are important because of the variety of things they 
offer your neighborhood.  The fields, play areas, natural features, and many other amenities 
help to "anchor" neighborhoods.

New York City Parks is making big decisions about Highbridge Park and wants you to be a 
part of shaping your park's future.  Please attend the community visioning meeting!



WHEN: Monday, November 28, 2016 6:30 p.m.8:30 p.m.

WHERE: Highbridge Recreation Center in Highbridge Park

2301 Amsterdam Avenue (at 173rd St.)

COST:  Free  

EVENT ORGANIZER: NYC Parks Community Input Sessions

Highbridge Park Kids Natural History Game

Photo by Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska of DNAinfo


 
Time:  Sun Nov 20 2016 at 1:00 pm 
Place:  Highbridge Park, Washington Heights, 
584 W 172nd St.
Created by:  Fort Tryon Park Trust

Event Details: 

HIGHBRIDGE PARK KIDS NATURAL HISTORY GAME

Join Eva Neves, artist and educator, for a game of Highbridge Park Bingo! Learn fun facts about the Park's natural history while filling your bingo board with plants, animals, and landmarks, unique to Highbridge Park. Fun for the whole family!

Please note: Space is limited (ages 4-11.) RSVP is required; to register your child, please email RSVP@FortTryonParkTrust.org.

This program was made possible through the support of the Fort Tryon Park Trust and the Greenacre Foundation. 

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Bridge Park South to Receive Grant for Further Development


As reported in the Mid Hudson Valley Patch, the State of New York will help communities along the Hudson River Estuary improve recreational access and river education.  The grant program, part of New York State's Environmental Protection Fund, was allocated a record-level of $300 million in the FY 2017 State Budget. As part of this funding they have awarded $1.3 million to 12 projects along the Hudson River Estuary.  

As part of this funding the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation will receive a grant for $58,350 which it will use to complete the planning for a shoreline access project along the Harlem River in the Bronx, between High Bridge and the Alexander Hamilton Bridge at a site known as Bridge Park South. The site was previously used as a construction staging area and includes more than 215,000 square-feet (about 5 acres) of unused waterfront. The project will focus on access planning for environmental education and habitat enhancement, and will include a site survey and analysis, hydrodynamic assessment, community outreach, and a concept design.

Old Photos Near Highbridge Park

These photos are primarily Along Amsterdam Ave. or immediately adjacent to Amsterdam Ave. or Jumel Place, or Edgecombe Ave.  Photos are courtesy of the New York Public Library Collection or the Museum of the City of New York or Google maps.

Above two photos are both
499 West 175th Street at the N.E., corner of Amsterdam Ave. c. 1932.
Courtesy New York Public Library


19 Jumel Place, east side,
between 167th and 168th Streets,
a three-story frame house. 1932.
 J. Clarence Davies Collection,
Museum of the City of New York.
Negative No. 423.



Add caption
2l Jumel Place,
a three-story frame house opposite the S.W. corner of 168th Street. 1932.
J. Clarence Davies Collection,
Museum of the City of New York.
Negative No. 463

46 Jumel Place,
a two-story frame house adjoining the S.W. corner of Edgecombe Avenue. 1932.
J. Clarence Davies Collection,
Museum of the City of New York.
Negative No. 458


(above) 671-673 Edgecombe Avenue, three frame houses at and adjoining the S.W. corner of Jumel Place. 1932. Negative No. 464. 
(right) A rear view of the same houses. 1932. Negative No. 465.
J. Clarence Davies Collection, Museum of the City of New York. 

Add caption
Add caption
515 W. 169th St. north side between Amsterdam Ave. and Audubon Ave. 1934. 
P L Sperr, photographer
Courtesy New York Public Library


Amsterdam Avenue at S.W. corner of 168th Street, 1932,   Courtesy New York Public Library 


Amsterdam Avenue at S.W. corner of 168th Street.
October 12, 1934. P. L. Sperr, Photographer,   Courtesy New York Public Library  

Amsterdam Avenue, west side, from 166th to 167th Streets. 2176-2178 Amsterdam Avenue, the two houses at and adjoining the S.W. corner of 168th Street, are two-story frame houses. 1932.
J. Clarence Davies Collection,
Museum of the City of New York. Negative No. 456.

Add caption




Amsterdam Avenue, at, adjoining, and south of the S.E. corner of 167th Street, showing 2161-2165 Amsterdam Avenue, a two-story frame structure which will be demolished later in the year. 1932.

 J. Clarence Davies Collection, 
Museum of the City of New York.
 Negative No. 44 
   
NW corner of Amsterdam Ave and 175th St., 2014
Google Earth




Same view as photo immediately above.
 NW Corner of Amsterdam Ave and 175th St. looking from the baseball field North
The private residence on the east of Amsterdam Ave., adjacent to the baseball field,
can be seen in the first two pictures of this post above.
April 8, 1934. P. L. Sperr, New York Public Library


Same baseball field as in the photo immediately above near the corner of 175th St. and Amsterdam Ave. three years later in 1937. Note that the 3 story private residence with the gable roof has been demolished.  Note also that the building at the NW corner of 168th and Amsterdam Ave. (2350) with the distinctive 5 part construction is also the same.
Courtesy New York Public Library.


 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Another Life in a Bottle -- Dorman L Ormsby Soda Water Bottler, 168th St. & Amsterdam Ave.




We reported earlier this year the finding of an old bottle (c. 1900) that was associated with a pharmacy located near Highbridge Park at Amsterdam Ave. and 167th St. (Adolph Joseph Linser).  We now have another bottle.  This one is dated 1896, and was produced for a local business establishment near Highbridge Park about a block away from the Adolph Linser Pharmacy.  There is every reason to believe that the proprietors of these two establishments knew each other.


This latest bottle is embossed with the following information: "DORMAN L ORMSBY, A.B. CO, 168TH ST. EAST OF AMSTERDAM AVE, NEW YORK" (see image above}.  The back is embossed: "Established 1835, A.B.C Beverages, DLO, Registered"  The bottom is embossed: "1896".  It stands approximately 7 1/2" tall and 2 1/2" wide.


The information we have uncovered about the people involved here reads like a novel with many of the wondrous elements of the history of this country and this City, the realization of the American dreams, combined with the disastrous consequences of divorce, and murder, death and tragedy.

In 1995 the City of New York Department of General Services commissioned an "Archaeological Assessment of a 33rd Precinct  Project, Site  Block 2112, Lots 10-42, Manhattan".  (Dorman Ormsby site -- Jumel Place).  See s-media.nyc.gov/agencies/lpc/arch_reports/307.pdf

In the image below the reader can clearly see the outline of the Project Site.  [Ed: For clarity, what appears to be 178th St. is really 170th St.] The Project Site extends on its northern end to 170th St ; on its western side to Amsterdam Ave., on its southern side to 168th St. and on its eastern side to Jumel Place.

For comparison to the current topography, this site is currently occupied by the 33rd Precinct Police Precinct Headquarters Building and a vacant lot immediately to the south of the police precinct building.





The found bottle, which came from a mineral water manufacturing site located within the Archeological Project Site, allows us to explore the lives of yet other individuals at various times during the history of this city, and especially near Highbridge Park.


[To avoid any confusion in identifying different people with the same name in this post, for example, to distinguish the elder Leonard from his grandson of the same name we will always include their year of birth immediately following their name.  The same naming convention will be used with the various Dormans and Watermans and other names where multiple generations in the family have the same first name. --Ed.]   


Leonard Ormsby (b. 1783)


In order to put this story into perspective we need to start our description with Leonard Ormsby (b. 1783, Windham County, CT) who, in about 1806, married Elizabeth Ashely (b. 1785, Hampton, CT). The original Ormsby family in Colonial America had emigrated from Ireland a number of generations before Leonard's (b. 1783) birth.  Leonard (b. 1783) and Elizabeth settled near Elizabeth's family in Hampton, CT where their children, Dorman Leonard Ormsby(b. 1807), Waterman Lily Ormsby(b. 1809), and Jane Eliza Ormsby (Smith) were born. Eventually, Leonard (b. 1783) and Elizabeth were divorced sometime around 1821. We will not go into the details of their divorce here, however, we do note that Elizabeth and their three children moved to New York City. The reason for her choice of New York City has not been determined as of this writing.


Dorman L. Ormsby (b. 1807)




The first of Leonard and Elizabeth's sons, Dorman L. Ormsby (b. Jan. 2, 1807, Hampton, CT -- d. after 1873) married Gertrude J. Roberts (b.1809, NJ -- d. after 1870, NJ) in 1834.  By 1835 it was reported that Dorman L (b. 1807) was operating as a grocer with his business location at 347 Bleecker St. on the corner with Perry St.  Longworth's American Almanac, New York Register, and City Directory for 1837, also reports Dorman L Ormsby (b. 1807) at the same location.  


The 1840 Census shows Dorman L Ormsby (b. 1807) as head of household with ten members in his extended household living in New York City. No details other than the count of male and female members appears in the 1840 Census.  Dorman (b. 1807) and Gertrude already had three children: Leonard H. Dorman (b. 1836, New York), whose biographical and genealogical information we report in some detail below;  Sarah Jane,  who eventually married James Flanagan, a well known brewer of New York; and Josephine, who eventually married J. H. V.  Arnold, a surrogate. Dorman (b. 1807) was only 33 years of age at the time of the 1840 Census and the other members of his household, other than his wife and three children, were extended family members. We highly suspect that these extended members included his mother, Elizabeth, and his siblings, Waterman (b. 1809) and Jane.   We also know that Waterman (b. 1809) was already married by this time to Julia and they had a son, Waterman (b. 1834).  This extended family would account for all ten members of the family that were reported for the 1840 Census.


We also have information from around this time that Dorman (b. 1807)  who, as we indicated above, had been a grocer, registered, in 1835, a brewing company, "Dorman L. Ormsby  A B Co". The manufacturing operations of 'root brewers,' as they were frequently called in those days, was a cottage industry and could have been easily operated out of his grocery store.  It has been noted that he brewed mead, root and ginger beers, which, at that time, were put up and sold in stone jars (see images below). He was one of the pioneers in this line of business.


You may have noted above that Dorman's (b. 1807) daughter, Sara Jane, who was only born about the time that he started the brewing business, married into the well known brewing family, the Flanagans, some twenty years or so later.  We believe that the brewing operations were successful and attracted the attention of others in the New York brewing industry.


Early D L Ormsby Stoneware Ginger Jar, 1848
 In 1844, Dorman (b. 1807) shows up in the Doggett's New York City Directory as being a "manufacturer of root beer" with operations at 255 16th St. and a home residence at 251 16th St. By the 1860 Census Dorman L. (b. 1809) shows up as a "soda water manufacturer," with wife Gertrude and two children, Gertrude I., and Julia. His son Leonard H. (b. 1836, New York), then age 24, was old enough not to have his primary household with his parents.  Trow's New York Business Directory in 1860 lists "Dorman L Ormsby & Son Mineral Waters" with a business location of 423 W 16th St. and 288 W 17th St.  Of course, the "Son" is Leonard H. (b. 1836).


In 1861 the New York Times reported that Dorman (b. 1807) and Leonard (b. 1836) were being sued for running over and killing a child with their brewery delivery wagon.  


Dorman (b. 1807) retired from the active management in 1873.


Leonard H. Dorman (b. 1836)


Leonard H. (b. 1836 - d. after 1902), Dorman (b. 1807) and Gertrude's eldest son, was educated in the public schools of New York City, and upon the completion of his education began his business career as assistant to his father, Dorman L. (b. 1807) in the root brewing and mineral water business. Learning every detail of the business, as he did, thoroughly, under the practiced eye of his father, he was well fitted to take full charge of affairs when Dorman (b. 1807) retired from the active management in 1873. Leonard (b. 1836) personally supervised the manufacturing interests until 1902, when he retired in favor of his son, Dormon (b. 1867) and retired to Keyport, New Jersey.


Leonard (b. 1836) married Kate Dall (b c.1837, New York) in c. 1856.  Leonard (b. 1836) and Kate had six children: Gertrude (b. 1858), Lilly (b. 1860),  Rubina (b. 1862), Kate (b. 1865), Dorman L  (b. 1867, New York,- d. Sept. 8,1945,Yonkers, NY), and Josephine (b. after 1870).  Gertrude eventually married James Dennelly. Lillie married William Boyd, Robina married William A. Ewing, Katie married William Walling, and Josephine married Harry Winterton. Dorman L. (b. 1867) biographical sketch and genealogy are elaborated upon below.


The 1870 Census shows Leonard H. (b. 1836) as a "manufacturer of root beer" with Kate and the five oldest children.  The 1880 Census shows Leonard (b. 1836)  married to Kate Dall (bc.1837) living at "Walton Ave. North between 149th St. and end, NYC."  They then had all six children.  Leonard (b. 1836) is listed as a "wheelwright."  Dorman (b. 1807). changed the name of his company from "Dorman L. Ormsby A B Co" to "Dorman L. Ormsby & Son A B Co".  We do not know the year that Leonard (b. 1836) actually joined his father in the operation of the brewery, Dorman L. (b. 1807) retired in 1873 leaving the operation of the brewery to his son Leonard (b. 1836). We also have information that the brewery was moved from lower Manhattan to 132nd Street and Eighth Ave. This might explain why Leonard (b. 1836) had moved his family to near 149th St.


Waterman L. Ormsby (b. 1809)



While Dorman (b. 1807) was developing his brewery business, it is worth noting that his younger brother (by two years), Waterman Lily (b. 1809), who grew up as a member of Dorman's (b.1807) extended household also became a person of some distinction. Noted enough so as to mention some of his accomplishments here, also. Much of the information on Waterman that appears here has been acquired from Wikipedia.

Waterman Lily Ormsby (b. Sept 9, 1809, Hampton, CT – d. Nov. 1, 1883, New York, NY) became an apprentice in an engraving shop at a young age.  In 1829, he attended the National Academy of Design right here in New York City. Upon graduating he moved to Albany, NY where he engraved using his own name for a few years.  Then he went to Lancaster, MA, where he worked for the firm of Carter, Andrews & Co.  Eventually, he settled in New York City where he founded the New York Bank Note Company and became one of the founders of the Continental Bank Note Company.


He married Julia Ann Brainard in 1830 and they divorced in 1846.  Waterman (b. 1809) and Julia Ann had one son.  Waterman L. (b. 1809) subsequently married Amelia (date unknown).  His son from his first marriage, Waterman L. Ormsby (b. Dec. 8, 1834, New York City -- d. May 1, 1908, Brooklyn, NY) married Elizabeth Ormsby.  They, in turn, had a son Waterman L. Ormsby, Jr. (b. 1857 Brooklyn, NY - d. ? ). Waterman, Jr. (b. 1857) married Carrie Laura Bertram Hamilton (b. ?) on Dec. 4,1895 in Manhattan, NY.


Trow’s Business Directory for 1860 shows Waterman L. (b. 1809) as an engraver at 50 Wall St. in New York City.


Waterman (b. 1809) was an excellent line engraver and was called upon for a great deal of work engraving plates for bank notes. These were in wide use by the Government at around the time of the Civil War. He designed the five-dollar note, intended to prevent counterfeiting and was the author of several pamphlets, including, "Cycloidal Configurations" or the Harvest of Counterfeiture, and a volume on paper-money engraving entitled, "A description of the Present System of Bank Note Engraving" that was published in 1852.
Waterman (b. 1809) provided engraving plates and is noted for illustrations for The Columbian Magazine, a journal known for printing the stories of Edgar Allan Poe along with political and technological stories, from its first issue. He purchased controlling interest in the magazine in 1847, but readership declined and the magazine eventually failed. The failure of the magazine might be attributed to the untimely death of Edgar Allan Poe in 1849.

Waterman (b. 1809) is probably best known for his engraving of "The Declaration of Independence" painted by John Trumbull (see illustration below).


The Declaration of Independence. lithograph by Waterman Lily Ormsby.


Dedicated to stopping counterfeiters, he invented the “grammagraph", a machine used to copy medals and medallions onto bank note dies in order to give the illusion of a bas-relief. The device was later used as a pantographic engraving machine to produce "roll-die" engraving on metal. The machine automated an existing engraving technique that varied spaces between parallel contour lines to give the impression of depth to a print.  This was most famously used on the cylinders of revolvers made by Samuel Colt of Colt Firearms. Waterman Ormsby (b. 1809) produced half a dozen engraving scenes for Colt as early as 1839
Other inventions by Waterman Ormsby (b. 1809) included a refined transfer press, medal-ruling machines and geometric lathes that took engraving from human hands to machinery. This was because, for the majority of his career, he worked alone or with one assistant.
Waterman Ormsby (b. 1809)  is said to have helped Samuel Morse in the creation of the Morse alphabet.

Waterman L. Ormsby (b. 1834)  


Waterman L. Ormsby (b. 1834)
Waterman L. Ormsby (b. Dec. 8, 1834, New York City - d. May 1, 1908, Brooklyn, NY), the son of Waterman L. Ormsby (b. 1809), who was also a member of the extended family of Dorman L Ormsby (b. 1807) worked as a reporter for a number of newspapers in New York City. Most importantly, he became a reporter for the New York Herald.  Waterman (b. 1834) was the first and only through passenger on the Butterfield Overland Mail Stage from St. Louis to San Francisco in 1858 and wrote about it in an acclaimed series of six articles that appeared in the New York Herald. His account of the trip was republished in 1942 and is still in print today.

[Ed: see Ormsby, Waterman L., The Butterfield Overland Mail - Only Through Passenger on the First Westbound Stage, (Edited by Lyle H. Wright and Josephine M. Bynum, The Huntington Library, San Marino, CA 1942].

Waterman L Ormsby (b. 1834) married Eliza Beth Crawley(?).  Waterman (b. 1834) and Eliza Beth, in turn, had a son Waterman L. Ormsby, Jr. (b. 1857, Brooklyn, NY - d. ?  ), Sydney C., and Senter H. (twins) the latter died in his youth.  He then married Carrie L. Hamilton, widow of the late William Hamilton.

Waterman L Ormsby III (b. 1857)

Waterman Lily Ormsby III (b. Dec. 5, 1857) was the son of Waterman L Ormsby (b. 1834). His career was similar to his father's.  Following graduation from the College of the City of New York in 1876, he was a newspaper reporter, private secretary, and amanuensis, and, in 1882, was appointed secretary to the senate of the State of Pennsylvania.  Two years later he became official stenographer to the supreme court in Brooklyn, NY.  He was twice married and the father of one son and two daughters.  His first marriage was to Carrie Laura Bertram Hamilton on Dec. 4, 1895, in Manhattan.

Dorman L. Ormsby (b. 1867)

Now, switching back to Dorman's (b. 1807) side of the family and closer to Highbridge Park  Dorman L. (b. 1867), the grandson of Dorman L (b. 1807), and the only son of Leonard (b. 1836) and Kate,  Dorman L. (b. 1867) attended the public schools of New York City, and at a very early age he entered the business of his father, Leonard (b. 1836), and became practically acquainted with all the details. He kept well abreast of the times in his special line of manufacture, and was always ready to adopt the newest methods, whether of advertising, machinery or other improvements, as soon as the practical advantages became apparent to him. His business was one of the most extensive of its kind in New York, and was constantly growing.  He is the only manufacturer of ginger ale in this country that would guarantee that it will keep in any climate for one year. Dorman L (b. 1867) spent years experimenting to get this article perfected. He was a member of the Junior Order of American Mechanics, the Hudson Boat Club, the  Foresters, and the Eagles.

Dorman L. (b. 1867) married Susie Ferris (b. New York, 1869) on June 26, 1889.  They had two children: Leonard (b. 1889), and Adelaide (b. c. 1890, New York -- d. 1982).  Land records show that land was purchased for the new manufacturing site at Jumel Place at Amsterdam Ave. and 168th St. in 1895.  The 1900 Census shows the family and children lived on Jumel Place near 168th St. He is listed as  "manufacturing soda." The US Patent & Copyright Office shows that in 1901 Dorman L. (b. 1867) registered a copyright for his products under the name "White Fawn Natural Sparkling Mineral Water". The 1910 Census shows Susie, still listed as Dorman's (b. 1867) wife with children at 463 Convent Ave. near 151st St. Dorman (b. 1867) is shown as "garage proprietor", Leonard (b. 1889) is listed as an "auto mechanic", Adelaide is listed as an "electrical billing clerk".

It appears that Dorman (b. 1867) sold the soda manufacturing business which had been in his family for three generations in 1905, three years after his father retired from the business.   Frederick Wehmann, a german born immigrant to New York City purchased the company.  However, a 1907 article in the American Bottler tells best the story of what happened after the sale:

"On October 23d [1907] occurred the sad and tragic death of Mr. Frederick Wehmann. Mr. Wehmann was engaged in the soda water business at 39 Jumel Place, New York City which he purchased from Dorman L Ormsby [b. 1867] about two years ago. A long series of disputes as to whether Mr. Ormsby [b. 1867] had the right to keep his automobile in the cellar of the house in which both families lived, and where Mr Wehmann carried on his manufacturing business following the sale and purchase of the business and culminated in the final quarrel in which Mr Wehmann was shot by Mr. Ormsby. [b. 1867] A physician was immediately summoned and the injured man was hurried to the hospital where he lived for only a few minutes.

Mr. Ormsby [b. 1867] testified at the trial that he had fired his pistol at random and that he had drawn it only when forced to do so to save his life. After some deliberation he was acquitted. Frederick Wehmann was born in Germany about 34 years ago When about 15 years of age he came to America and for a short time was employed in a grocery store A position was offered him with the Moran Bottling Co New York where he remained for nine years.  Later he was employed as a driver by Bruckner Bros. which position he resigned to go into business for himself. Mr. Wehmann is survived by his widow who will continue the bottling business."

Dorman (b. 1867) either divorced Susie or Susie died and then Dorman (b. 1867) married Effie Dover (b. Dallas, TX) in 1913. The 1920 Census shows wife Effie Dover with Dorman (b. 1867) living at 24 Grand Ave, Yonkers. with occupation listed as "president automobile," which seems to indicate that he is the president of the corporation that ran a garage and auto supply business in Yonkers.   A 1945 obituary in the Herald Statesman in Yonkers, NY stated that Dorman L Ormsby (b. 1867) died Sept. 8, 1945.

Leonard D. Ormsby (b. 1889, New York)

In the 1940 Census, Leonard (b. 1889) was living in Texas.     

revised 10/15/2016