Inwood Street Names

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Academy Street sign in Inwood, New York City. Academy Street Named aptly for the first school in Inwood. Dedicated in 1858, Ward School 52 was also known as “MacKean’s Folly” for the school commissioner who ordered the three story structure built in the then sparsely populated area.

Arden Street Named after local butcher Jacob Arden, whose pre-Revolutionary customers sorely needed a C-Town.

Bogardus Place street sign in Inwood, New York City. Bogardus Place Named for the family of inventor and architectural pioneer James Bogardus who owned a large parcel of land in what is now Fort Tryon Park. During the 1840s Bogardus began construction on numerous cast iron buildings throughout the city, including the first cast James Bogardusiron building in New York located on Center and Duane Streets.

A modest man, who never considered himself an architect, Bogardus’ patented cast iron building exteriors changed the face of the urban world. Not bad for a guy who dropped out of school at age fourteen to start an apprenticeship as a watchmaker. Bogardus died in New York City on April 13th, 1874.

Broadway Generally acknowledged to have followed the old Weckquaesgeek Indian trail that ran the thirteen mile length of Manhattan. Early settlers called it the Bloomindale Road. Going north the original trail crossed the then shallow Spuyten Duyvil Creek into what today is Marble Hill. At low tide a traveler could cross the Spuyten Duyvil Creek on foot. Records show that Indians referred to the crossing as “The Wading Place.” Future generations would see a ferry crossing and eventually the King’s Bridge.


Cooper Street Named after “Last of the Mohicans” author James Fenimore Cooper.

Cumming Street sign in Inwood, New York City. Cumming Street Named for a local property owner on May 11, 1925.
A New York Times wedding announcement from a bygone era says that on June 11, 1868 John P. Cumming Jr. married Irene Flitner of Pittston, MO. The Reverend R.W. Dickinson presided over the wedding in the Inwood Presbyterian church.

Colonel Thomas DonganDongan Place Named for Colonel Thomas Dongan, the first Roman Catholic Governor of the Province of New York. He was known as a peacemaker and smooth city manager during a time of rebellion.

Dongan later became the second Earl of Limerick after the untimely death of his brother in 1698.

Dyckman Street and Nagle Avenue were named for Jan Dyckman and his partner Jan Nagle. Dyckman and Nagle were early settlers who, in 1677, bought the farmlands and boweries originally owned by the family of Tobias Teunissen. Teunissen, who hailed from Leyden, is said to be the first European to settle in this northern wilderness. History notes that Teunissen served as a guide for Governor Keift’s military expedition against the Weckquaesgeek Indians in 1642. His helpfulness and knowledge of the area proved fatal. Teunissen’s land and farms were abandoned in 1655 after he and all but one family member were slaughtered by his Native American neighbors.

Henshaw Street Named for Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Henshaw, who lived in the area in the 1880s and were members of the Mount Washington Presbyterian Church. Census records show that a Jonathan Henshaw born 1859 and died 1917.
Census records also show an Elmer Ellsworth Henshaw being born “Inwood-On-The-Hudson”, as the neighborhood was once called, on April 26, 1886.
Other sources say the street is named for a young soldier named John G. Henshaw who died of bronchial pneumonia during the First World War.

Isham Street sign in Inwood, New York City. Isham Street Named for wealthy leather merchant William Bradley Isham.
In 1864 Isham purchased a sprawling twenty four acre estate spanning 211th to 214th Street along Broadway and northwest to the Spuyten Duyvil Creek.
William Isham died on March 23, 1909.
William Isham’s mansion once stood on what is now Isham Park. The mansion, stables and greenhouse on the summit of the hill were demolished in the 1940’s.
Today all that remains of this stately home are stone benches on the east edge of the park. The family donated the park space to the city in 1912 and for the gift of this little slice of paradise they certainly deserve a street named in their honor.

Payson Avenue Initially named Prescott Avenue, Payson gets it name from the Reverend George Shipman Payson. Payson was pastor of the Mount Washington Presbyterian Church from 1874-1920.

Post Avenue Named for the family of Hendrick Post who arrived in the area around the same time as the Dyckmans and Nagles. Post later married Jan Nagle’s daughter Rebecca.

Riverside Drive in 1907. New York City
Riverside Drive in 1907.

Riverside Drive The current name is obvious, but Riverside began as Lafayette Boulevard after the French marquis who aided the colonials in the American Revolution.


Intersection of Seaman and Payson Avenues in Inwood, New York City. Seaman Avenue First opened in 1908 and extended in 1912, Seaman Avenue is named for the family of Henry B. Seaman. The Seaman estate once covered some 25 acres from Park Terrace Hill to Spuyten Duyvil Creek.  Henry was a descendent of Captain John Seaman who settled in Long Island in the 1650’s.
One descendant of Captain Seaman, Dr. Valentine Seaman, helped introduce the smallpox vaccine to America.  Today, the only visible trace of this once powerful Inwood family is the Drake-Seaman Arch, once used as a gateway to their hilltop estate, on 216th and Broadway. The 35 foot tall arch was built in 1855.

Sherman Avenue Inwood’s longest Avenue, Sherman is named for the Sherman family who lived on the south side of the small bay also named for them.

Daniel Edgar SicklesSickles Street Named after Daniel Edgar Sickles. Sickles was a New York State Legislator and Major-General during the Civil War. During the battle of Gettysburg Sickles survived being struck in the leg with a cannonball. His amputated leg as well as the 12-pound ball are now on display at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Daniel Edgar Sickles leg on display at Walter Reed
Sickles leg on display at Walter Reed

Daniel Edgar Sickles in 1912 photo.Sickles, always the colorful character, first made national news when, in 1859, he shot and killed his young wife’s lover in  Lafayette Park across from the White House. The victim: Francis Barton Key, whose father, Francis Scott Key, penned the Star Spangled Banner.
He was acquitted of the murder, but drew public scorn when he forgave his cheating spouse.
Later Sickles would hold important posts including a diplomatic mission to Colombia, serving as Military Governor of South Carolina and U.S. Minister to Spain.
Sickles died in New York City on May 13, 1914, having outlived most of his contemporaries. He is buried, minus the leg, in Section 2 of Arlington National Cemetery.

Staff Street Named for First World War Sergeant Henry Staff. He lived on Sherman Avenue and was killed in action in 1918.

Brigadier General Sylvanus Thayer, the first commandant and, often called, the "Father of West Point".Thayer Street Originally known as Union place, Thayer Street was named for Brigadier General Sylvanus Thayer, the first commandant and, often called, the “Father of West Point”.
Thayer is not a very common name and chances are if you run into one they are directly related to him. Though most of the family now lives in Maryland and Massachusetts.

Vermilyea Avenue Named for Isaac Vermilyea, an Dutch settler who arrived in New Harlem in 1662. Rising from constable to magistrate, Vermilyea was able to purchase a large portion of the current Inwood Hill Park by 1712.

West 204th During the 19th century, before numbered streets became fashionable, many streets were named after American writers. 204th began its existence as Hawthorne Street.

West 207th During the 19th century, before numbered streets became fashionable, many streets were named after American writers. 207th began its existence as Emerson Street.

 

6 COMMENTS

  1. As the great grand-daughter of Jonathan Henshaw and grand daughter to Elmer Ellsworth Henshaw, I can tell you for a fact that the street was named for our family.
    I’ll have to come to Inwood and check it out!

  2. I can’t recall the source, but I believe I read that the Emerson that 207th Street was originally named for was not Ralph Waldo, as one would naturally believe, given Cooper and Hawthorne, which definitely were named for literary figures.

    I will have to try and dig around, to see if I can re-locate the source of the information and who Emerson was (I think he was a local figure) and will post it if I do find it. I see some articles and books at http://www.oldstreets.com/sources.asp#books , including

    Bolton, Reginald Pelham. Indian life of long ago in the City of New York. New York: Joseph Graham (Boltons Books), 1934.

    _________.Guide to the named streets and avenues of Washington Heights, Inwood and Marble Hill; with historical notes on their titles; reprinted from the Commonwealth Weekly [New York: 1914?]

    and at Amazon <http://www.amazon.com/Origin-York-Street-Names-ebook/dp/B0034XS9YE., I see: The Origin of New York City Street Names, By Albert Ulmann [1901]

    but I don't see the particular book that I know was not too long ago in print that was a major source of this sort of information.

  3. Aha! I found the following at It is not the source that I recall, but it is basically the same information:

    “Emerson Street and Emerson Place (Named for the Reverend Brown Emerson of the Mount Washington Presbyterian Church. Emerson Street ran in a straight line from Tenth Avenue west to a point just beyond Seaman Avenue. It then curved north, west and south to a dead end south of Prescott Avenue. Emerson Street from Tenth Avenue to Seaman Avenue became part of West 207th Street about 1910. The curving westerly portion, sometimes labeled Emerson Place, was incorporated into Inwood Hill Park.)”

    Of course, I also found another WAHI site that repeats the attribution to R. W. Emerson, so one has to be careful about which sources one taps into (unwary wiki users and blog followers take note!).

  4. Quick question regarding Isham Street: It’s named after William Bradley Isham, yes? Is he any relation to the Charles Bradley Isham who married Abraham Lincoln’s granddaughter?

  5. Thank you for this wonderful web site. Love to have the memories. I am married 40 years to John (met in the USAF). We now live in TX – retired. My sister Eileen is married to Richie Dugan and live in Fla. My bestest Inwood friends are Pat Barker, Kay Fahy, Kathy Walters and Louise Darcy.

    As Bob Hope would have sung “Thanks For The Memories”! Lenore

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