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

Sterling Medal 181st St. Ice Skating Palace, 1924

There is no reference to the Ice Palace after 1925.

last modified 2/2/17

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

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: 


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

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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.