While much of Manhattan’s past architectural glory was lost to “progress” prior to the creation of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1965 [including the grand old Penn Station], city residents can still find hidden gems that tell the story of the city’s once greener and more rural past, and structures that tell the story of Manhattan island’s transition to a fully urban environment.
One such hidden gem is Sylvan Terrace. Just up a small flight of stairs from St. Nicholas Avenue just north of west 160th street is a small mews of twenty three-story wooden row houses built in 1882.
The area surrounding Sylvan Terrace and the nearby Morris-Jumel mansion was an elevated and quite rural area until 1882 when a developer was charged with creating the row houses that can still be seen today. Detailed information can be found in a 1989 New York Times article about the renovation of these row houses, which had fallen into quite a state of disrepair.