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:

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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.

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Servants? Tradesmen? I imagine it’s been quite a number of years since this sign has had any applicability for the building’s tenants, but I love that it still exists as a fading relic of a bygone era.


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  1. That’s my neck of the woods! I think that is actually a building owned by Columbia University. I think there is a post about it on forgotten-NY, but I may be mistaken.

  2. Nice! FYI, a term for the directional hand is “manicule”:

  3. i grew up near there, these kinds of signs were not too uncommon in my youth….

  4. Having been raised in the UWS, there were several very grand old buildings in my old area. These buildings had once been occupied by upper middle class and wealthy inhabitants, who did indeed have servants living with them. I remember several of my friends living in large UWS apts. with “call” buttons on the dinning room floor, where the dinning table would have been. I founds these little artifacts soooooo fascinating. Also some of my friends had samll servants bedrooms in their huge rambling apts. I always fantasied how my area must have looked so many years ago when more affluent people lived there and had a need for call buttons and servants quarters in their homes. So fascinating…thank you so much.

  5. In fact I lived on 143rd street and Broadway. but hung out on 141st and riverside dr., with several kids my age. The apartments actually had built in wall safes in the master bedrooms and yes, there was a sign on the side of one of the buildings that read…….”servants entrance” I just loved that old sign. It made me realize that long before we all lived in that area, there where people who were actually wealthy enough to have servants in the same apartments we now called home. It’s amazing how neighborhoods and apartment house, changed character through out the years in NYC.

  6. I have been living in the UWS for many years and in the past, there were many old buildings like this ones. In those days, these buildings were occupied by rich people and they had a large force of servants living with them. These entrances were specially fixed for the servants. They do not have any meaning now a days.