Irish Immigrants in East Harlem 1890s
Hi, I was wondering if there was anyone else out there who might have had Irish roots in East Harlem. My family lived there in the 1880s - 1905. The four definite addresses that I know of are:
347 E. 114th St
2342 2d Ave
2346 2d Ave
2236 3d Ave
Does anyone know if these buildings are still standing? Once on a brief drive through via bus, it seemed like the area on 2d avenue is now a housing complex.
I'd like to see any photographs that might show what the neighborhood looked like in those days, if anyone has any suggestions. And I'd like to chat with anyone else who might have Irish family who lived in this area?
Check-out http://www.mcny.org/ and share with us what you find out
Hi Jibaro, Thanks for replying so quickly! I have gone on to the Museum's pages, and checked out quite a bit of info and many photos. Unfortunately, I haven't found anything that really answered many of my questions about what life was like in East Harlem in the 1890s. The journalists and photographers of the time were apparently much more interested in documenting life on the west side, like Morningside and the "suburbs" of the well-to-do. And the notorious neighborhoods of Hell's Kitchen and Five Points. So I'm still open for suggestions and information... (Please forgive my limited nowledge of NYC geography if I make an error. I'm a native of Massachusetts, and have only visited in person a couple of times - despite my frequent visits in history and documents, and online.)
Thanks for taking the time... Sue
My g-g-grandparents and related families also lived at several addresses in East Harlem in the late 1800s. I have seen the area referred to as "White Harlem" - I guess to delineate it from predominantly black West Harlem - but I'm not sure in what time frame that was. My family was mixed-race from the Caribbean but referred to themselves as "white" and were there mostly from about 1890 on. After about 1925, they moved to the Bronx. I believe the demographics had changed a great deal during the years they were in East Harlem. It is a bit frustrating to try researching the area on the internet, if you are not looking for Hispanic resources, because I've found that most websites focus on the more current Hispanic population - or sometimes you'll see references to the Italians. My family lived at various addresses very close to yours. Unfortunately, I believe that the low-income housing projects along First Avenue replaced the apartment buildings my ancestors lived in, so I cannot just go and take a picture of their old buildings (I live in Manhattan but hardly ever get up to the East Harlem area). I've also searched the Library of Congress online archives, but have found mostly West Harlem. What they have on East Harlem is much later than the period you and I are researching. I have a copy of an out-of-print book called New York Photographs, 1850-1950 by Benjamin Blom, which contains (not a lot, but) some great old photos of the East Harlem neighborhood when it looked quite rural. Big old sycamores on the sidewalk, people riding those old-fashioned bicycles with huge wheels, clapboard houses, and folks dressed in their Sunday best. But that was closer to 5th Avenue and I suspect it was quite different along the East River. There are some good old maps of upper Manhattan and East Harlem on the internet of you do a Google search - I can't recall the site but there is one with a 1903 map. You can still get hold of that Benjamin Blom book I mentioned on eBay or other online used book sellers (it's a wonderful big book of photos). Another resource is the "Tax Photos" available at the Municipal Archives. The city took pictures of every building in 1930-31. Many of these were of buildings built many years earlier, so it is not impossible to see if there is an image in their files that will help you with your 1880s research. The website for the Municipal Archives is http://www.nyc.gov/html/doris/home.html
One way you can get an idea of what the neighborhood was like is to search through the old census reports. I really don't think the area was known for having much Irish, but I could be very wrong.
Thanks very much for your reply, Diane. Your information pretty much validates what I have found while looking for info on neighborhood as well. I have done all the federal census searches, and I am about to check the 1890 police census, to see what I can find. I have determined that the various family members started out about 1870 living on the in-town edge of Hell's Kitchen, and within a few years moved "up north" to the East Harlem area. I have made a couple of trips to the Municipal Archives, and next trip later this summer, I think I'll check the tax photos to see what I can find. They were taken long after my family was out of the area, but maybe the houses were still there.
Message to Diane
Thank you for the most useful information.
My grandparents lived in East Harlem from about 1896 to 1932 at 24 E 124 Street and 2416 First Avenue.
I had little information to work from. I found useful information from the cemetery records and death certificates.
My grandfather was a butcher and owned a retail shop. I have no information as to the location of this shop.
I found the Municipal Archives "tax photo" page interesting and ordered the photos for the address' mentioned above.
I wonder how I could locate his place of business.
I did find a 1930 business directory for New York however it contained only wholesale businesses for butchers.
O.Henry places a lot of his fiction in East Harlem circa 1900. Read his stories and you'll get a good feel for the people, language, work, and general culture of that place and time.
Be forewarned, though, the Irish of East Harlem were a rough bunch.
By the way, for more about turn of the century New York Irish read "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" then see the movie by the same name.
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