Movin’ On Up…to Carmansville

From our partners at Gothamist: In last night’s episode, Dr. Matthew Freeman and his wife Sara move from Five Points to Carmansville. But what and where was Carmansville?

Carmansville was a little village located by the Hudson River, in what is today’s Hamilton Heights. Some say the boundaries were between 152nd Street and 157th Street, while others say it was as big as 140th Street to 158th Street. The area was named after a wealthy developer named Richard Carman, who owned much of the land in the area.

Home Sweet Home: Doctor Matthew Freeman (Ato Essandoh) enjoys the ‘fresh air’ in Carmansville.

John James Audubon, the naturalist, lived on 155th Street in an estate called “Minniesland” while Carman lived on 153rd: According to Audubon Park, “Carman, a box manufacturer who made a fortune in real estate and insurance, was a near neighbor and friend of the Audubon family. His large land holdings in Washington Heights included the village of Carmansville, which abutted Minniesland, as well as (for a short time) the tract that now comprises Trinity Cemetery. Carman bought that property (which stretches from the Hudson to Amsterdam Avenue, from 153rd Street to 155th Street) the same day the Audubons bought Minniesland, but only held it a year before selling it to the Trinity Corporation.”

The area was the opposite of the hustle-and-bustle of downtown: The lithograph of Audubon’s estate shows a bucolic setting. An 1860s Atlantic Monthly article noted, “The road that leads by Washington Heights to New York…is the most picturesque route to the city. Trim hedges of beautiful flowering shrubs border the gravel walks that lead from the road to the villas. Cows of European lineage crop the velvet turf in the glades of the copses. Now and then the river is shut out from view, but only to appear again in scenic vistas.”

Carmansville village, initially considered a place for the “blue-blooded,” had “its own smithy, grocery store, school, and church,” and attracted more and more diverse residents as the years went on.

In 1864, Carman was very vocal against the Eighth-avenue Railroad Company; the NY Times reported, “He is largely interested in property at Carmansville and vicinity, and set forth very forcibly the need of more railroad facilities for that part of the City. Now it is dependent upon the Hudson River Railroad Company. The Eighth-avenue Company were to extend the track with the grading of the avenue, which they have failed to do.”

It turned out the Hudson River Railroad Company was successful: In her 1873 account of visiting the New York Institution For Instruction of the Deaf And Dumb, Mary Barrett wrote, “Leaving the city by way train on the Hudson River Railroad from Thirtieth Street, we stop at the station in One Hundred and Fifty-Second Street, which is also called Carmansville.”

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