The Hudson River and Railroad Illustrated

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    • #3574

        I recently found an interesting book called Hudson River Houses featuring sketches by Edwin Whitefield (1816-92), who was working on an architectural picture book in the late 1840s and early 1850s.  He traveled up the Hudson drawing estate houses and views on east side of the river.  His book was to be called The Hudson River and Railroad Illutrated but it never made it to publication.  His sketches are in the collection of Winterthur.  Images from that period are pretty scarce so I was excited to see these:

        Above: View looking south from Spuyten Duyvil Hill toward Inwood Hill with a nice mix of sloops and steam boats in the river.

        Above: This one is captioned as “View of the Hudson from the Lawrence house, Manhattanville.”  That appears to be the promontory jutting out from Washington Heights into the Hudson.

        I enjoyed seeing images of the railroad right after it opened but I was especially glad to see some of the estate houses that Whitefield drew.  This is the first time I have seen depictions of some of them.  Below is the home of JR Whiting, who was a big deal in New York politics and real estate:

        Again, you can just get a glimpse of a steam ship on the Hudson on the far left.  Unfortunately, it is a faint sketch but it is the first time I’ve ever seen this depicted.  Whiting’s estate house, which was curiously called “Inwood,” was located on Spuyten Duyvil Hill in today’s Seton Park not far from where the dog run is today.

        Above: map clipping from an 1853 map (NYPL)

        I will scan a few more of the homes and post them here later.

      • #3575

          Thank you for this, Nick. It’s always a joy to experience life in the past through those who were living in those times.

          For those who find enjoyment in thinking of life in the past, I recommend reading two books written by Jack Finney, From Time To Time and its sequel, Time And Again. The imagery of New York City in the 1892, as seen by the protagonist, Simon Morley, who can slip back in time from the late 1960’s, transports me and I feel the vibrancy of the, then, life in Manhattan juxtapose those places I know of now.

        • #3576

          JR Whiting(April 30, 1803 – March 16, 1872) was an American lawyer and District Attorney of New York City.  Buried in Woodlawn Cemetery.

        • #3577

          See more details about Judge JR  Whiting in KHS  –   Netherland Avenue Subway

        • #3578

            Thanks for the info and book recommendations.

            Whitefield’s book included a drawing of another Victorian house that I had never seen before, that of R.H. Nevins:

            Just Googling the name does not turn up much but Nevins was a director and treasurer of the Stuyvesant Institute.  His house, “Riverside” was located in today’s Riverdale Park southwest of Wave Hill, which was a smaller structure owned by William Lewis Morris at the time:

            Another home drawn by Whitefield belonged to James E. Bettner:

            I could not find much on Bettner either but his home was located at the southern end of the Hebrew Home property:

            These were the early days of Riverdale, before the word “Riverdale” even shows up on the map.  Amazing to see the size of the estates–some in the hundreds of acres.

          • #3579

            40.8866° N, 73.9156° W  points to the dog run in Seton Park.  Where the J. R. Whiting Estate was located.  Just do not know how to do the math when using the Latitude & Longitude from the 1873 Topographical Map from the NYPL 

          • #3580

            A 1956 Bronx US Topo map seems to point to the JR Whiting Estate as being a little more west of the dog run, as compared to the 1873 map.  I did not place that red house box on the map.  It was there already.  

          • #3582

              That makes sense, Tom.  If you look at the drawing of Whiting’s estate house, you can see that it is at the edge of a slope like your map shows.

              Another local home that Edwin Whitefield drew still stands today on the campus of the College of Mt. Saint Vincent–Edwin Forrest’s Fonthill Castle:

              It was a newly built when Whitefield made the above sketch.

              The building I was most excited to see depicted was “Major Jos. Delafield’s Lodge at Fieldstone Farm, Yonkers.”

              Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe this building still stands at 6 Ploughman’s Bush in Riverdale.  This sketch shows what it looked like before it was expanded in 1877.

            • #3583

              Nick,  It is a little confusing since there were three – four structures on the property.  One was removed in the 1950’s, according to the 6 to celebrate article and one was expanded with a mansard roof.  The current structure does not have either and appears to me to be an expanded stable.  Yes, it is somewhat similar to Mansard roof image in the old photos you posted in an other link.  The NYC landmark  commission may have details when the landmarking of this structure failed.  I just think the lodge in the art work is similar to Andrew Jackson Downing’s work is long gone.

            • #3585

              Going back to Seton Park,  near the dog run, where the J. R. Whiting Estate was located.  This map #34 from the 1893 Bromley shows Seton Hospital & the J. R. Whiting Estate house

            • #3586

              There are two stone pillars on Palisades Ave just north of W 232nd St.  Basically, just west of the JR Whiting estate discussed. Back in the 1960s to 70s believe may have been used as entrance to the U Thant estate.  But good possibility they were once another entrance to the  JR Whiting estate .


            • #3587

              Peter,  I forgot about these stone pillars.  I do remember seeing many very old trees in the winter walking up the hill from .

            • #3588

                Thanks for the posts, Peter and Tom.  They got me curious and digging around for more information on the JR Whiting estate, Seton Park, and Seton Hospital.  Since it is a slightly different topic, I will post those findings in a new thread later.

                But I think I figured out the stone pillars on Palisades Ave.  After 1840, J.R. Whiting’s estate was between W. 232nd and W. 235th Streets (as are the stone pillars).  However, the pillars flank a driveway that headed north of the Whiting estate past 235th Street to a lot between 235th and 236th Street in today’s Raoul Wallenberg Forest.  That is the old U Thant property (although I do not know who lived there before Thant).  Here is a marked up 1921 Bromley Map:

                The NYS Archives has a 1948 aerial photo taken from a plane over the Hudson River looking towards this section of Spuyten Duyvil and it correlates with the map.

                Here is a closeup of the pillars:

                Back to the Hudson River Houses…   Apparently, the last sketch that Edwin Whitefield made of a home in our area was this one:

                The caption in the book: “Unidentified house, probably in Riverdale, the Bronx.  Date and architect unknown.”  I wonder whose home this was.

              • #3589

                Nick,  Thank you for that perfect clarification.  PS is there a link to more 1948 photos ?

              • #3590

                Got it – U Thant Mansion & Seton Hospital


              • #3591

                  Yeah, I was going to put that in another thread about JR Whiting and Seton Park but that’s the photo.  There are links to a bunch of photos of that area here.

                  Only after reading your posts and seeing those photos of Seton Park in the 40’s and 50’s was I able to figure out that JR Whiting’s house was photographed and looked like this:

                  What a behemoth!  That photo is from 1956.  It is hard for me to believe that it stood in the fields of today’s Seton Park until the late 1950’s.  Perhaps it began as the smaller house drawn by Edwin Whitefield and was later expanded by Whiting’s son, JR Whiting, Jr.  Whiting’s former mansion is not the building we usually associate with Seton Hospital but it was part of the Seton Hospital complex, which had separate buildings for women, men, and children.


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