Monday, May 26, 2014

The Chicken or Egg Question about the Last Farmhouse in Manhattan

While sketching the last Farm House in  Manhattan I had an interesting thought.  The house is located on Broadway, and my thought was a Chicken or Egg  type question:  

Was the Dykman house built on Broadway because that was a main thoroughfare?   Or was Broadway built to go by the Dykman house?

The Farmhouse on Broadway

The Dykman house was originally 250 acres and extended river to river from about the 190’s to 215th Street, so any major north south road would, of necessity, have passed through their property. The Dymans first settled there in the mid 1600's.  The NYC Grid system of streets was started in 1811.  

The Urban Planners who laid out the grid decided to ignore Broadway.  The old route, whose original Dutch name was Breede Weg followed the spine of lower Manhattan and passed through hills and streams using the easiest natural path from north to south.  The grid was built around Broadway creating crazy bisections that were called Squares (even though they were really more like wedge shapes), like Times Square and Madison Square (where the Flatiron building is built on a plot of land shaped like a slice of pizza).

Benches by the Garden

So Breede Weg - Broadway was a major Dutch street, but which came first?  Did the Dykmans build on the Dutch Weg, or was the street established for the convenience of a major original landholder?

View of the Back Porch

When the Dykmans first built their home they located it close to the Manhattan Indian Wickquasgeck Trial, the footpath that connected them to the Dutch settlement at the southern tip of the island.  The Dykmans probably used that path for trading.  

The settlers also used this path when they wanted to travel to the other colonies.  A trader in the New Amsterdam settlement located in what is now Wall Street who wanted to get to Boston started the journey by traveling up Broadway, using what became know as the Boston Post Road. 

Jim and Marketa at Lunch

So the answer seems to be that there was a path there long before the farmhouse was built but that it became known as Broadway after that farm was built.

Marketa and Michael Sketching at Inwood Hills Park

1 comment:

  1. History, photos and sketches...nice combination!!! I like the one of the back porch...nice and splashy!


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