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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  • PhDiva

    1. I am the daughter of a black doctor, and it has been a wonderful surprise for me to see a black doctor in a period drama. I wish my father were still alive because it would have thrilled him to see this.

    2. The first two episodes have been excellent. The accents can get a bit strange, but the writing and acting are solid. I’m intrigued by the moral ambiguity of the violence and how it serves as a counterpoint to the almost sweet ferocity with which “Copper” defends the little girl and his clever maneuvering of the power players. I hope they explore the class dynamics even more deeply.

    3. The sexual child abuse angle was a bit troubling for me. On the one hand, I think it’s powerful that they are addressing the issue and pointing out that it is not just a modern problem. On the other hand, it’s intensely disturbing, and i am not sure it should be used for entertainment.

    4. Where has Tom Weston-Jones been hiding? He’s quite a find. There just aren’t many actors who are that good-looking/sexy and can genuinely act. At first, i thought he was a bit too pretty for the role, but he has won me over with his intensity and the layers of his performance, especially in terms of his ability to perform both silence and action. It will be interesting to see how his career blows up after people start catching on to the show.

    5. The bottom line is…I’m just plain hooked. I’ll be back next week.

    • beck0974

      If you have Netflix, you can catch Tom Weston-Jones on MI-5 season 10. He’s phenomenal!

  • Glen

    I lost all respect for the character now. They break his leg, he gets the drop on them and he lets them walk out? No way would anyone, expectantly someone just out of the war allowed them to go with no reprisals. At the least he would have wounded all 3. Particularity considering what he did to kill the two other people.

    • Stewart Dalton

      The one was a Pinkerton. They were then associated heavily with the US Government, the railroads and wealthy investors. If Kevin were in 2012 it would be equal to a NYC policeman shooting at a Federal agent. Might be right to do it but the outcome would not be good.

    • beck0974

      And how exactly would he clean up the bodies? His leg is broken, he can’t move. It’s not like he has a cellphone to call his buddies to help him cover up the corpses. He did the right thing. Bet they won’t make a return appearance!


    Interesting piece of New York history.
    So far, the only qualm I’ve had was when someone mentioned being in the Army for “over four years”. This is 1864. The war started in 1861.

    • Becky High

      The US had a standing army of 16,000 men in 1860. During the Civil War this increased to over 1,000,000.

  • Weeksville Latecomer

    An 1864 color lithograph of 156th St, Carmansville, is featured in the “gothamist” post at .

    Carmansville, as well as the freedman-name-honoring village of Weeksville, (mentioned in another episode of Copper) are both marked in Colton’s 1846 “Map Of The Country Thirty Three Miles Around The City Of New York,” whose 1853 reprint is re-published and documented by the David Rumsey Map Collection at