A Secret Courtyard Just Blocks From Times Square

I was walking down West 46th Street in Hell’s Kitchen recently when I noticed a break in the buildings…

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Most of the time, this sort of thing just turns out to be just a nook where residents pile garbage…But as I looked closer…

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I noticed something peeking out in the back: what looked like a completely separate building, hidden away from the street.

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This sign identified it as Clinton Court…

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…And as I looked closer, it seemed like the alley did indeed lead into a much larger space.

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The location scout in me is always looking to add unique and unusual New York locations to my “film-friendly” list; the urban explorer simply wanted to find out what treasures might be hidden down the alley.

It turns out that the building is very much interested in film work, and I was given a quick tour of Clinton Court to help spread the word. I proceeded down the alley…

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…And into a beautiful secluded courtyard. At the south end is this carriage house turned residence, complete with arched French doors and a second floor porch…

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…While to the left is the rest of the courtyard – it’s hard to believe this is located just a few blocks from Times Square!

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The carriage house is a completely separate residence from the surrounding apartment buildings, and goes by the address 422 1/2 West 46th Street. A pan of the courtyard – click for larger viewing options:

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Below, an aerial view shows the entrance and recessed carriage house:

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According to Wikipedia, this carriage house was built pre-1800 and  is the only surviving building in the area dating back to when Times Square and Hell’s Kitchen were farmland.

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According to Forgotten-NY, a creek known as Widow’s Creek or Great Kills Creek once flowed nearby. The carriage house was once occupied by VP/NY State Governor George Clinton.

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According to my tour guide, this is considered one of the most haunted buildings in New York. Legend has it that at least three women have jumped to their deaths from the roof.

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This beautiful stairway leads up to the upper porch.

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A nice place to enjoy some peace and quiet.

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This apartment building is also accessed within the court, and the tenants share the space. Ivy grows up and down the surrounding buildings.

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Though the space has been used for film shoots in the past (Bullets Over Broadway, for example), it has fallen out of the loop. The building is looking to generate more interest, and I am more than happy to present my pictures here to spread the word. I can think of a million great uses for the space, from a backdrop for intimate photoshoots, to an unrivaled secluded Manhattan filming location.

If you’re interested in getting in touch with building management, shoot me an email. Serious requests only!

Update! Take a peek inside the carriage house here

-SCOUT

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36 comments

  1. It is a kind of documentary, which I enjoyed very much.

  2. Amazing find. It must be heaven to live here, if you live in Manhattan.

    Very interesting blog.

  3. Very cool find. I’ve walked past there a number of times and wanted to go back.

    I’ve always loved rear houses, there are a number of them in Chelsea, Gramercy Park, and also in Williamsburg. I remember in the mid 90s looking for an apartment in Hells Kitchen, and being shown an apartment in a rear building on 50th off of 9th. You had to walk through a gated alleyway on the ground floor, and in the back was a little two story house. The place was totally trashed (broken windows, musty smell, garbage, old bicycles, broken furniture littered the place) that I didn’t take it, even though they were going to clean it up. I think they were asking something like 900 a month. I’m sure they are getting much more than that now for the place! Who knew the area would get so chic? Even in the 90s though, Hells Kitchen was so much nicer than the 70s or 80s.

  4. Spectacular find. I’ll keep it in mind.

  5. American Dreamer

    Legend has it that three women jumped to their deaths from the building but it is only three stories high: that is not high enough to kill most people.

    FYI there are at least four other rows of carriage houses tucked between much larger buildings from 34th to 42nd street on the far west side.

  6. Fantastic find, you for finding this fantastic building, and me for finding your blog, fascinating stuff, especially as a photographer.

  7. I lived across the street at 413 west 46th a million years ago–Hartley House–and there’s a carriage house out in the courtyard there, too.

  8. Wow, amazing find!

    I’ve also often wondered about the back buildings around 111 Sullivan. They’re accessible through a long corridor between the buildings, but it’s gated, so almost impossible to see from the street.

  9. This is a terrific find.The place looks beautiful! Love the photos too.

  10. I lived a few blocks away from this for a few years and never noticed it! I’ll definitely try to peek in next time I’m in the area – it’s amazing! Thanks for sharing.

  11. you know i have to be honest, your new posts are the only ones i look forward to (and i go thru hundreds of posts for work); they are also the only ones where i make sure all work is done, house is quiet, headphones on, glass of water (or wine) on deck and then i delve right in.
    and i know you see me here all the time and i always say it, but i love love love your job….i think i had your job in a previous life. ha!
    if you ever come to cape cod and need help, i’m here ha ha.
    loved this post. wonder why 3 women jumped to their death? weird and maybe false or exaggeration? i didn’t know the house was that small, looked so big from outside. 2 bdrm/1 ba.

  12. Oh my HEAVENS! That is just magical, that is.
    This is my favorite kind of post–one that just takes me completely out of everything I know about Manhattan and shows me something utterly unexpected.
    Since a “civilian” like me would never get back there, I have to thank you SO MUCH for showing us this!
    So beautiful. Even the ironwork and flower pots around the garbage area. Amazing!

  13. you should talk to some mailmen. they would know every single address, every one that’s weird.

  14. The Sotheby’s ad says the house is pre-war. Which war would that be.

  15. In Woody Allen’s Manhattan Murder Mystery, Allan Alda takes Diane Keaton to a courtyard that looks exactly like this one!….for anyone that hasn’t seen the movie, see it! it’s a really good movie.

  16. Hi….I live at Clinton Court….it is a great place to be and most of us have lived here for many years. By the way, the photos of the interior are not of the back carriage house, but are the inside shots of one of the studios that is currently on the market. There is an offer on it, but it has not been finalized.

    Also, I believe the story goes that three women (through the years) died in the carriage house due to a fall down one of the stairways.

    Spring always brings out the best in our courtyard, as the flowers are beginning to bloom again!

  17. Could I BE more jealous? Not sure.

  18. William (#18), have you seen any ghosts?

    I just love this blog.

  19. Hi Susan….no, I have not seen any ghosts, but I was mentioning the whole ghost history to one of my friends and about the women who died in the carriage house. She looked at me and then said, “that explains it!”….”when I came into your courtyard for the first time, I saw a woman in period dress standing in one of the windows of the carriage house.” My friend feels that what she saw was the ghost of one of those women.

  20. What an excellent read! I too live in Manhattan and being new here (3yrs), I find great joy in finding little known hideaways. This is wonderful. Thanks!

  21. This building was on 46th and what. They filmed West side Story on 46th. Between 9th and 10th, I lived there when it was really hell’s kitchen

  22. Yeah but what do the ghosts think?

  23. My freshman-year college boyfriend’s father lived here with his wife and small daughter. He was propmaster to David Merrick, and worked all his Broadway shows. I don’t know if he owned it at the time, but when we drove east from St. Louis, we dropped in here. I thought it was the most amazing thing- having grown up near NYC and never having seen anything like it!
    Love your blog and this is such a find for me – I was telling a friend about it, someone who grew up in Brooklyn, and she swears a friend of hers lived in this courtyard during the same period (early 70s). That would be even more amazing!
    My sister lived on Sterling Place in Brooklyn, too, so I have thoroughly enjoyed reading about the plane crash and the poor survivor. The plaque at the chapel is so touching.

  24. I just love your blog and also wish I had your job! This courtyard is so quaint, but then when I got to the part about the ghosts…no, I don’t want to live there anymore. :) Fantastic work though. Your blog is a total pleasure to read.

  25. I have read over a few of your current entries and I was curious about if you were interesting in swapping blog links? I am always looking to trade links with personal blogs about similar topics! I look forward to hearing back from you in the near future.

  26. I work in this area walking dogs and I’ve passed this place so many times and always wondered… it’s AWESOME!

  27. Hi nycScout,

    I am currently trying to do my application into Parsons, and their question was what have I over looked in my area which is HK. I walk to work every day on 46th between 9th and 10th and I have never noticed Clinton Court till yesterday, when I had to look it up and your amazing blog popped up. I am wondering If you know the people who are in charge, or a care taker, or management team. As I would love to have a look around and maybe do some sketches or a photo-shoot in hopes that it can be what I write about and get me into Parsons.

    Thank you for your inspiration.


    Blair Moore,

  28. Is the carriage house now a residence?

  29. Used to skate past there every day round and round the block just for the opportunity to check it out as much as possible.
    It was unoccupied at the time (early 60s thru mid 70s) but spirits were palpable even at the gate. To borrow from a cliche it was hauntingly beautiful, unique in the Manhattan of that era. smd enticing as hell incarnate

  30. There’s an excellent New York Times article written by Christopher Gray in 1992 that gives the history of Clinton Court.

    George Clinton never lived here according to Grey.

    Ruth Faison Shaw (1888–1969) lived in the back carriage house in the 1940s and 50s.

    Here are some dates from the NYT article:

    1850: 420 West 46th Street built.
    1871: 422 West 46th Street built by Robert Auld.
    1919: 420 & 422 merged and one-story studio built in back.
    1985: Clinton court renovated (NYT article says 1958–error?).

    http://www.nytimes.com/1992/09/06/realestate/streetscapes-readers-questions-a-myth-on-west-46th-st-remembering-schrafft-s.html

  31. My father lived here in 1930. I got that information from a census which listed the residence as house #422, dwelling #41. Do you have any information about the history or pictures from 1930?

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