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Irving Place: 1905

Irving Place: 1905

New York circa 1905. "Washington Irving's home, Irving Place and East 17th Street." Where Rip Van Winkle meets Sleepy Hollow. 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


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Below is the same view from April of 2012.

Creepy Face Cloud

The cloud in the middle of the picture looks like a ghostly figure of a little girl just look closely is creepy you can see the head and hands!?!

Hydrants high and low

A little trivia: This area was transforming from residential to manufacturing lofts at about this time. (The transformation never got much past 17th Street on Irving Place, though). For a period, the city ran two separate fire hydrant systems, one for everyday use, and a high pressure system for commercial areas that could push a lot more water into high-rise buildings. The short, fat fire hydrant in the foreground is the high-pressure system; the taller, skinny one in the background is the regular system.

The high-pressure system went out of service in 1979, but the hydrants remained on the streets for decades, "downgraded to the simple duty of collecting parking ticket revenues for the city." You could still find them around Union Square into the 2000s.

And let's not forget Washington Irving High School

Still a great NYC public high school! Famous alumnae include Claudette Colbert, the famous 1930's movie star, and Gertude Berg, of "The Goldbergs" TV show of the 1950's. Today, great kids and teachers.

Elsie de Wolfe's Place

Although Irving Place was named for Washington Irving, the long identification of this house at 122 E. 17th Street is apparently incorrect. The story seems to date from the 1890s, when the house was occupied by Elsie de Wolfe, the influential and very social interior designer, and her partner Elisabeth Marbury, a successful literary agent. Built in 1844, the house had once been the residence of an unrelated merchant named Edgar Irving, and Washington Irving lived in Tarrytown, not Manhattan, after his return from Spain in 1846. A 1994 New York Times article by Christopher Gray debunks this durable myth in killing detail.

Whaddya Know

Still there. Along with much of the neighborhood. I was sure I'd hit Google Maps and see a '70s apartment complex or a parking garage. There oughta be a medal.

Old and Improved

I don't know that I have ever thought this on this site, but I actually think the scene looks better now! Aside from the addition of the big ugly box of a building across the street, the trees and removal of the ivy is beautiful.

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