Monday, July 11, 2022

Lost Apartments of the North Shore: Richmond Terrace at Bank Street (east side)


Letting loose the lunatics wasn't the greatest of ideas
Giving them plans and money to squander
Should have been the worst of our fears

                                                    Paul Weller, "The Planner's Dreams Goes Wrong" 

In my cataloguing of the devastation caused by the construction of the various NYC housing projects on the North Shore, I was constantly puzzled by the elimination of several blocks of buildings along Richmond Terrace. Only with recently being told where I can find archives copies of the SI Advance (1945-2018), have I discovered what happened.

In addition to building the Richmond Terrace Houses, the city planners decided they were going to continue the promenade and multi-lane Richmond Terrace divided by a median from Westervelt Avenue all the way down to Lafayette Avenue. To accommodate the plan, several blocks of existing buildings were purchased and demolished. 

Whelp, like so many well-intentioned plans, this one never came to fruition. Oh, sure, they bought and bulldozed the buildings, but they never built the expanded Terrace or extended the promenade. To be fair, I don't love the original idea, but right now, the narrow stretch of the Terrace in front of the projects is one of the worst bottlenecks on the North Shore. So, businesses and lives were uprooted for an expensive plan that was never implemented. Good going, people. 

For these lost apartment posts I wouldn't normally include pictures of so many individual buildings, but the sheer number of them seemed to warrant it. I want to make clear the extent of the destruction wrought for no ultimate yield.


Sanborn Map, 1936



SI Advance, March 23, 1963   

Chen Hing Hand Laundry

Thomas V. Barry: Real Estate-Insurance & Libasci Bros. Tonsorial


Unknown & Valet Service



Vacant - Demolished in 1946 after being vacant 20 years

Pan-American Bar & Grill


Cigar/Candy Store

Tailor & Bar & Grill & S.I.R.T.R.R. Station


Barber Shop

Laundry & other assorted businesses


Tuesday, July 05, 2022

Lost Apartments of the North Shore: Prospect and York


238 York Avenue, ca.1940


234 York Avenue, ca. 1940

230 York Avenue, ca. 1940


I'm not sure I ever noticed this strange building until I bought a house on Prospect Avenue in 2006. After that, I drove by it all the time, curious about its odd look and hoping someone one would fix it up at least a little bit. Around 2010-2011, someone did do a major renovation. The work wasn't fantastic, and the roof over landing isn't attractive, but a building was returned to use. The DOITT map lists 238 York Avenue as being built in 1931, but it appears to be on the 1917 insurance map. Either way, it's a fairly old building that's still standing and occupied today.


Scanning the Advance archives, I wasn't able to determine when the two units to the right of the remaining 238 York Avenue, were destroyed. However, the last article referencing the center unit, 234 York, was in 1974 when for the second time in a year one of its tenants was robbed. The last reference to the rightmost building, 230 York, was in 1975 when one its tenants was sentenced to nine months for burglary. For at least a decade preceding 1975, all three units had tenants who had habitual contact with the police.

238 York Avenue, 1989 

The yellow street signs were gone by the time I moved to the area, but this was essentially how the building looked in 2006.

Sanborn Map, amended 1935

238 York Avenue - 2018

Friday, June 24, 2022

Lost Apartments of the North Shore: Richmond Terrace and Nicholas Street


224 Richmond Terrace and the foot of Nicholas Street

I came across this lost apartment by happenstance. I wanted to see the houses that used to exist along the beginning stretch of Stuyvesant Place where it meets the Terrace. Lo, and behold, I came across this fine little building. I don't know when it was destroyed, but I don't have a memory of it being there when I started attending Curtis in 1980. When I took of old #5 bus over Jersey Street in the morning, I'd get off right there and walk up Nicholas to school.

I'm not sure when it was built (the Archives photo doesn't have a date), but there was a building with similar looking footprint on both the 1898 and 1917 maps. However, the maps indicate the building was wooden, which, obviously, this isn't. Even the 1937 Sanborn Map shows the building as wooden. However, this picture, if taken at the same time as the rest of the tax photos is from between 1939 and 1940, so that would make it fairly new, which, again, it doesn't seem to be. So, if anybody reading this knows more about it, let me know.

216 Richmond Terrace


1898 Sanborn Map


1917 Bromley Atlas

1937 Sanborn Map


2018 - The View
; better than an empty lot, I guess

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Lost Apartments of the North Shore: Castleton Park

   From the maps and photographs, Castleton Park, once home to the gargantuan Hotel Castleton, and now home to the magnificently dull Castleton Park apartment towers, was a pleasant block of houses surrounding a park and watched over by two attractive apartment buildings. Only by checking the maps and dates right now, did I realize that when I first went to Curtis High School in 1980, that old Castleton Park might have only been recently destroyed. The DOITT NYCMap lists the current buildings, 165 St. Marks, as only having been built in 1976. In the past, I've gone on about how working class communities were destroyed for the ostensible benefit of housing projects, but this is the first time I've come across the obliteration of a middle-class section for affordable housing. 

   What strikes me immediately about Castleton Park's demolition is the absolute lack of any sort of concern for architectural attractiveness. Instead of the nicely detailed apartments and houses that were knocked down, the new apartments are looming, completely unadorned towers. Now, even the greenery that once covered the underground garage in imitation of the old park, seems to have been let go and replaced with concrete. Whatever reasons there are to remove something old and replace it, there's no reason to replace it with ugliness, but time and time again, that's what New York City (and, truth be told, most cities) have done over the past seventy-five years.

1934 Map - The Castleton in orange and The St. Marks in pink

ca. 1940 - my favorite picture of the Castleton as it seems to lurch around the corner of Nicholas and St. Marks

postcard of the Castleton with Castleton Park in the foreground

postcard of the Castleton


ca. 1940 - the St. Marks 


ca. 1940 - the St. Marks

postcard of the Castleton and the St. Marks

1928 -  skyline showing Curtis H.S., the St. Marks and the Castleton - I feel obligated to track down pictures of all the houses in this photograph

1924 vs ca. 2021 aerial maps


2021 - 165 St. Marks Place

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Lost Apartments of the North Shore: the Baltimore Flats


17-23 Victory Blvd, ca. 1940

When my parents got married, they lived at 115 Stuyvesant Place. It's where I lived my first three years. They bought a house on Cebra Avenue when their rent went up to $137 and exceeded a mortgage. As a baby, my mom and I went to all sorts of stores in St. George and Tompkinsville. I had memories of eating in a luncheonette at the corner of Victory and  Bay, but I couldn't remember anything specific about it except that my mom was friends with a waitress. It was only doing some research a few years ago that I discovered pictures of it.

The luncheonette was called DeFranco's and it was in the corner of a string of apartments called the Baltimore Flats. They're a beautiful example of late 19th-century buildings, designed by Edward A. Sargent. Unfortunately, after part of them caught fire in 1980, it wasn't long before the entire block of flats was demolished.

DeFranco's Luncheonette, 1969 - My mom and I could be inside 

Baltimore Flats on fire - 1980

the Baltimore Flats, 1980 - awaiting their fate

1989 - rubble


Lost Apartments of the North Shore: 210 Victory Boulevard


                                                            210 Victory Boulevard, ca. 1940


   I have only the slightest memories of this building, even though I grew up a few blocks away and probably walked past it hundreds of times before it was torn down in the early 2000s. I suspect the reason it never really registered in my mind is because it was set way back from Victory Boulevard and the property was no longer the nicely-maintained lawns and hedges depicted above, but a mass of uncontrolled trees and bushes. 

   When I was a kid, those set-back buildings had acquired a reputation for housing shady characters. A friend of mine lived in one of them - maybe even this one - and I visited once, and it was fairly creepy. 

   According to Dept. of Building records, in 2000, it was reported that the back of the building had collapsed and the front was in imminent danger of coming down. I've always been fascinated about the circumstances by which a perfectly decent building reaches a state where it's abandoned and left to ruin. Whole families lived there once. Hopes were hoped, dreams dreamed, and lives lived inside those walls. Now, it's not much more than a few photos. As such, I'm going to do a series of short posts about buildings similar to this one that once graced our streets and at some point - poof!- just seemed to vanish into the √¶ther.


1917 map

1996 NYC aerial map