Isham Gardens

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Isham Gardens Advertisement, New York Evening Post, 1924

Between Seaman Avenue & Park Terrace West

Designed in 1924 by the architectural team of Springsteen and Goldhammer, Isham Gardens was the brainchild of builder Conrad Glaser. Glaser envisioned an uptown utopia where middle class New Yorkers could live amidst a resort like atmosphere.

And, Springsteen and Goldhammer were up to the task. They designed a romantic Italianate manor with sweeping views of Isham Park.

Wall Street Journal announcement for Isham Gardens dated Aug. 30, 1924
Wall Street Journal announcement for Isham Gardens dated Aug. 30, 1924

The consummate salesman, Glaser began a relentless advertising campaign where he espoused the clean air and vacation-like qualities of Isham Gardens.

A 1924 advertisement published in the New York Times promised a doctor, dentist, valet, barber, beauty salon and taxi stand all on premises. In a March 26, 1924 article printed in the New York Evening Post, Glaser also boasted that his 1,500 perspective tenants would also enjoy a ballroom, billiard room, roof garden and even a swimming pool.

Where Glaser intended to find room for all these amenities, which included a band-shell for hosting twice weekly concerts during the summer months, remains a mystery.  Glaser’s pitch also included an observation tower so that all residents could take in the majesty of the Hudson River and the Jersey Palisades.

A Times article dated August 16, 1924 described Isham Gardens as it neared completion:

The Isham Garden Apartments, located in the heart of Isham Park and overlooking the Hudson River and Spuyten Duyvl inlet, is nearing completion and will be ready for occupancy Oct. 1. The first unit of the project will contain 191 apartments with a total of 425 apartments ready by May 1, 1925.  The entire group of buildings face along 214th Street and cover the blocks bounded by Park Terrace East, Park Terrace West, Seaman Avenue and Indian Road.

Isham Gardens is but one block from the beautiful Baker Oval, Columbia University’s athletic field, 304 feet from Spuyten Duyvil inlet, immediately adjoining the New York Park Department nurseries, several blocks from Inwood Park, which is to be enlarged by 111 acres of land the city is buying this Fall, and but three streets from Inwood’s shopping centre.

Each apartment of Isham Gardens overlooks a  strip of public property.  This was made possible by Conrad Glaser, owner of the project, having purchased half of the Isham estate. The Isham famly bought the land over 200 years ago and several years back presented the city with Isham Park and the balance of the land was sold to the present owner.

The apartments contain twin, three, four and five rooms with all the latest improvements.  Some of the features of Isham Gardens is the radio equipment installed on the roof for the use of the tenants in hooking up their sets; a large, beautiful ballroom for social activities of the new community, four tennis and handball courts, free to the tenants and their friends, and boating on the Hudson.”

Sadly, Glaser’s utopia did not include elevator service.

An early photo of Isham Gardens shows a gatehouse/rental office and a bus offering free rides up the hill from Broadway.

Isham Gardens, New York Evening Post, Sept. 20, 1924

And while the reality of Isham Gardens modern amenities didn’t last long, Glaser’s skills as a pitchman helped jumpstart a real estate boom in the neighborhood that continues to this day.

Isham Gardens, Buffalo Morning Express, May 4, 1925
Isham Gardens today
Isham Gardens today

9 COMMENTS

  1. Cole, my family and I lived in that apartment until I left Inwood in 1982. Before it was renovated as a split-level 1 br apt rental unit, it was the pediatric office of David Borak, M.D., who later moved his office to W. 207th Street. Many of us as children who resided in the Isham Gardens Complex were his patients. It was a great location to get “house calls.” Isham Gardens was my home for 32 years. Many of us on this and other Inwood websites are the Children of Isham Gardens from the 40s thru the 80s, and have been working for years trying to get our story written. Someday.

  2. Great page dedicated to Isham Gardens. Wow it brings back memories. I lived in the 229 section while growing up. This building will always be a special place for me. If I ever win the lottery, I’d buy it in a heartbeat.

  3. I lived at 31 Park Terrace West from around 1950 to 1969. It was an idyllic place to grow up. So many children to make friends with, grass to play in, and woods to roam in. And those wonderful buildings to hide in. It was a fabulous place. And it’s amazing that there were no elevators.

  4. I lived there from about 1972 to 1975. Wanted an apartment facing Isham Park, got one facing an alleyway. The building had known better times, but I thought the way it swept down the staircase from Park Terrace West to Seaman was gorgeous, and the way it curved into another building of the same style in Indian Road. It’s a romantic setting and it could be beautiful again.

  5. I never lived in Inwood/Washington Heights, but when I was a child, my aunt (born in 1912 and passed away in 2006) lived in a different building on Seaman Avenue. She was the wife of my dad’s brother; and, at that time (circa 1980), she and I shared the exact same name — Mary Lombardi. My friends and I enjoyed looking up my name in the phone book and then laughing that I was the only 11 or 12 year old with her own phone listing (lol) even though it wasn’t really mine!

  6. Watches the latest episode (11.10.13) of Boardwalk Empire. As part of the story the Isham Park apartments are mentioned. They showed the advertisement. I’m sure that it was not noticed by 99.9% of the audience, but I must compliment their research.
    Does anyone remember the “commissary” (small store) that was located in the building. Thanks for the memories.

  7. Mr. and Mrs. Jacobs ran the Commissary for many years. Some of the local men would gather in the room behind the store from time to time to drink a beer or two.
    We lived in a 5 room apartment at 222 Seaman on the second floor. That building was the second of the two Isham Gardens buildings. My parents moved there from 182 Street in 1943 when I was about 2 years old. I think the landlord in the late 40’s and 50’s was a Mr Cohen. The rent was $75.74 in the 50’s.
    The buildings were coal fired when built and converted to oil in the late 1940’s. The Super was Mr Shorey until the late 40’s.

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