In 1916 popular newspaper illustrator Herb Roth visited the Inwood region. While there he sketched the Dyckman farmhouse and other familiar landmarks.
Below are the sketches from Roth’s visit as well as the accompanying text.
The Pittsburgh Press
The Sunday Illustrated Magazine
July 2, 1916
Manhattan As It WAS—and Still IS
“How many, even native New Yorkers, know that part of their tremendous city is as quaint and as “bewitched” a region as it was in the days of Wilhelm Kieft? That even on the Island of Manhattan ghosts still walk abroad, people still dig for hidden treasure, old legends are yet extant, and spots and houses related to Revolutionary times may still be pointed out to a sightseer in exactly the same state as they were a century ago. While by far the greater part of Manhattan Island has gone ahead, has been settled, and has become a roaring city, there is one section of it, at its extreme northwestern end, that has stood quite still and is as quaint and old-fashioned today as it was one hundred years ago.
At One Hundred and Ninety-seventh Street, and somewhat west of Broadway, there stands, under the shoulder of a great hill, an old house that must date from some time near the Revolution; and, an observer, seeing that only, would never guess from it, or its surroundings, that it was in the great city of New York. But a few blocks north of that, on the other side of Broadway, is a truck farm covering at least an acre.
Here are the same tumbledown stables peculiar to all farms, the same pungent smell of horses and cattle, the same rolling ground, green with growing things, and before the door of the little, rickety wooden farmhouse a spreading locust tree.
Bolton Road from Dyckman Street north is bordered with gigantic, solid trees; and from behind this leafy screen an occasional red mansion looks out; very substantial houses these were once but they are deserted now for the greater part, and in a sad state of disrepair and decay.
Looking southwest from this ridge one sees nothing but a thickly wooded valley, and beyond that a thickly wooded hill; and hears no sound but the whirring whistle of the song sparrow, or the knocking of a woodpecker in the glen.
At the foot of a rapid slope, where the island itself terminates, is the great tulip tree, growing through the very center of an old Indian shell heap.
Not far from these are the remains of the Hessian camp, and the spot where the Indians held their pow-wows; and standing in the midst of a grassy slope, an old, forbidding looking frame house, in which a rich oysterman ‘did himself in.’ His ghost still roams all over this region—some say guarding his treasure; for which he had a vast deal of it.
To the east of the house is the ‘great snake,’ imbedded in solid rock. It was discovered in the rock when the roadway at Two Hundred and Seventh and Cooper Streets was cut through.”