This 1883 photograph shows cows grazing on the site of the present day Baker Field along the Spuyten Duyvil. In the far background (photo left) is Inwood Hill and the Palisades. To the right of the cows is the foundry of the old Johnson Iron Works. Construction on the Henry Hudson Bridge was still decades away.
In a 1932 manuscript titled, “Recollections of Northern Manhattan,” local historian and archeologist William Calver (1921 photo of Calver below) described the scene in Inwood before its rural past slipped into memory. Calver’s photographs and descriptions are married here for perhaps the first time.
“Only a few years have elapsed since the last cow was kept on northern Manhattan, but the last actual herds of that region appear in our photograph of the Inwood farmlands. The very last porker (below) reared on the whole extent of Manhattan Island inhabited an old fashioned sty on the site of the present day “Baker Field,” near to Spuyten Duyvil Creek. The owner of the sty poured the floor of the sty with asphalt blocks expropriated from supplies for city streets , but as may be seen in our photographs this era marking animal left no stone unturned.Those who have scrutinized early drawings of New York street areas, and have recollections of the figure cut by swine in the annals of Manhattan will understand what we mean when we refer to the individual we have photographed as “epochal.”