My Inwood Memories: 1940’s-1970


Emma, Herbie, Betty at 214 St 1946This latest installment of MyInwood Memories comes from frequent reader and contributor Herb Maruska. Herb, who now lives in Florida, grew up in Inwood and is currently writing an autobiography. Here’s a taste of what we can look forward to. I’ll let Herb take it from here:

“My family moved to 157 Vermilyea Ave in 1946 when I was 2 years old. My parents took some photos back in the 1940’s and 1950’s with a simple box camera.

Ant Traps 1952 1Here we have three little boys in Inwood Hill Park in 1952. From left to right, are my brother Rolly (4 years old), my friend Peter, and me (8 years old). We are in an open grassy area above Payson Avenue where there used to be park benches, near the Prescott Avenue rotary. In later years all of these benches were lost to vandalism. The three little boys are catching large black ants and storing the ants in the shoe box. There is a spoon under the bench for scooping up the ants.   I have no clue why we did this.

Bway at Isham St Jan 1954 1

Bway at Isham St Jan 1954 2The next two pictures were taken on Broadway at Isham Street in January 1954. The beautiful Elm Tree still graces the front yard of Good Shepard Church. Later the tree fell victim of Dutch Elm Disease.

Herbie plays Baseball 1954Here I am trying to play baseball on Diamond #1 in the park. The original concrete bleachers are still in place. There was no chain link fence around the field. The view is north from the vicinity of the Isham Street entrance.

Inwood Pk Shorakapcock Rock 1970Finally, I took this photo of the Shorakapkok Rock back in June 1970. I include this photo because it is amazing what trouble we had in New York City back in 1970. The city was facing bankruptcy after the fiscal excesses of the Lindsay years. Here some hoodlums had ripped the commemorative plaque off the boulder, and sprayed the rock with paint. Ugh! I am not sure how the plaque was returned to its place. The picture is black & white, and the trees are covered with leaves, so many details are incomprehensible. Just a short distance along the path behind the boulder there used to be a site where white Inwood marble protruded from the earth. I remember that geology students from Columbia used to come and examine this formation. Also if you looked across the soccer meadow, there was a fairly large daughter of the great tulip tree growing maybe 30 feet northeast of the rock.”

Thanks again to Herb Maruska for this Inwood time capsule. If you are reading this and have photos or memories to share just shoot me a line in the comment space below and I’ll get back to you soon.


  1. The buildings behind my family are on 214th Street between Indian Road and Seaman Avenue. The ladies are looking at the baseball diamonds. The camera view is northeast. The buildings remain, but the bench my mother and her sister are sitting on is long gone, as are my mother and her sister, who by now each would be more than 100 years old.

  2. Thanks for reminding me that the baseball fields in Inwood Park once had concrete benches all around. I remember playing little league and running laps around that gigantic field and the stands were totally covered in graffiti. I think Parks Dept tore them all down in the 80s but rebuilt one of the stands near the park entrance on Isham.

  3. Dear Maureen, I am sorry, but I do not know you, nor do I know Tom Desmond. I went to PS 98 (class of 56), then JHS 52 (class of 58), Bronx High School of Science (class of 61), and New York University (Heights campus) (class of 65). I must admit that it is fun to find people that you know from the long distant past.

    • Hi Herbert,
      I was one year behind you! PS 98 (class of ’57) then JHS 52 (class of ’59), then went to Music and Art, but know several kids who went to Bronx Science afterward. Did you know Kenny Kramer, Martin Chesin? I grew up on Payson Ave. I’m sorry I don’t recognize your name. I see y our post is from 2009, so I don’t even know if you will get this.

    • I went to JHS 52 at the same time you were there, I knew the bowling alley as “Academy Lanes”. I went to Brooklyn Tech from 60-64.

  4. There was a great joy in growing up in Inwood back in the Fifties.

    I lived in the Dyckman Projects… attended PS #152, and then PS #98. I won the NYC Science Fair w/my dear buddy, Jimmy Lee while in 4th Grade. It was the year of the Seattle World’s Fair – that I do remember.

    What made Inwood so great was the sense of pure joy in the physical Nature of the surrounds and the unmistakable feeling that you were part of all of NY… the Irish, the Jewish community, the Puerto Ricans and the Blacks. And it was pretty harmonious.

    I thank God that I grew up there. I still go back when I can….

    MARK –

  5. Hello Herb,
    In planning a trip to the Inwood area, I found your website.
    I plan to stay at my nephew’s place on Vermilyea in January while he is in India.
    I just retired and moved to the West Palm Beach area. Wonder if you are nearby.
    I know very little about New York City and could use some tips.

  6. I lived in Inwood on Sherman Avenue from 1934 to 1951. I remember a tree trunk in Inwood Hill Park and I thought that Henry Hudson had moored his boat there on his way up the Hudson. Could that be? Also I thought that an Indian princess lived in Inwood Hill Park until about 1939? I was only a little girl and maybe my father was trying to impress me.

  7. I was born and raised in 616 West 207 St. I lived there from 1943 until 1960. To say it was wonderful times is a vast understatement. I currently live in West Palm Beach Fl.

  8. I grew up on vermilyea ave lived there from 1952 till 1968. The best place to be back then fun times,good friends and good Shepard school.i will always treasure the memories.

  9. Robert F Kennedy (1925-1968) was the younger brother of President John F Kennedy and was Attorney General in the Kennedy Administration. After the Kennedy assassination in 1963 RFK ran for the US Senate in 1964 in New York against Republican incumbent Ken Keating. I saw Kennedy campaigning on Broadway just north of Good Shepherd Church.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here