Barnum and Bailey Avenue?!

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    • #2090
      ndembowski
      Keymaster

      I received an email the other day about the history of the Roman Catholic Orphan Asylum, which stood where the VA Hospital is today in Kingsbridge Heights:

      Roman Catholic Asylum (1917)
      130 W. Kingsbridge Rd.
      In November 1898, the committee met at the Archbishop’s residence and decided to acquire from the Bailey estate a tract of about 28 acres, most of which was between Sedgwick Avenue and the Harlem River in the Fordham Heights section of The Bronx. Located on the highest point in New York City, the site served as a strategic vantage point during the Revolutionary War. In 1847, William H. Bailey, who was partners with P.T. Barnum of the Barnum and Bailey Circus fame, bought 26 acres of land as a country home for his bride. In 1899, the land was purchased for $290,000, and erection of the buildings began.

      That comes from this article.  The part that surprised me was the connection of the Bailey estate to the circus family.  After looking into it, I am not sure that information checks out.  First of all, it seems to have been a different Bailey that partnered with PT Barnum, not William H Bailey.  Secondly, the index to Westchester County deeds contain no references to William H Bailey purchasing land in our area in 1847.  They do however show that Nathaniel Platt Bailey, a merchant with no connection to the circus, purchased that land in 1842 from Margaretta Lorillard.  Note N.P. Bailey on the below 1851 Sidney and Neff map.

      The NYC Parks website connects the name of the Bailey playground and of Bailey Ave to N.P. Bailey.  Unless I am missing something, I would say the article is mistaken in its assertion that this area has a connection to the Baileys of Barnum and Bailey fame.

      As a side note, it appears that the below Library of Congress panorama could have been taken from the Bailey estate.

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