Morningside Heights

Searching For An Underground River in Morningside Heights

About a year ago, I got a letter from a reader about an underground river hidden somewhere in Morningside Heights: Years ago, I lived at [removed]. My father swore there was a stream running under a lot of the buildings there. I’m endlessly fascinated by Manhattan’s underground rivers. Once an island covered in streams, brooks, rivers, swamps, and marshes, many ... Read More »

Searching For The Remains of Manhattan’s Bloomingdale Insane Asylum

I was up scouting the Columbia University campus last week… …and in the spirit of Halloween, I decided to swing by the building nestled just beside Low Library. If you take a moment to stare at it, you’ll realize this little brick building doesn’t really match the surrounding Beaux Arts architecture. In fact, the longer you look at it, the ... Read More »

The Most Famous Classroom In New York City

If you believe Hollywood, every single college lecture hall in New York City looks like the one below: Rows of individual wooden desks and tiered seating… …an enormous wood-framed green chalkboard with sliding panels for additional writing space… …a wood-paneled front desk for the lecturer… …and even one of those little doors that swings back and forth! In reality, however, ... Read More »

The Hungry Gargoyles of 110th Street

One of my favorite buildings in Morningside Heights is the Britannia at 527 West 110th Street. The building, built in 1909, is divided into two wings and features two rows of fantastic gargoyles below the second floor balconies: What makes this building particularly great is how low the gargoyles are to the ground. At only ten feet up or so, ... Read More »

The Hidden Owl at Columbia University

One of the most beautiful and pleasant places in the city is the campus of Columbia University. It is simply incredible that such a place exists in the tightly packed metropolis that is Manhattan, and I never pass up a chance to visit. Located in the center of campus is the statue of Alma Mater (actually the goddess Minerva), by ... Read More »

The Servant’s Entrance

Quick one for today: I was eating lunch in my car at 113th & Riverside when I noticed an interesting sign on this beautiful apartment building: Next to the gate on the right side of the building is this sign: “Servants & Tradesmens Entrance,” complete with one of those great old-fashioned directional hand illustrations. Servants? Tradesmen? I imagine it’s been ... Read More »