Thursday, September 30, 2010

☞ WALK: West Harlem's Vinegar Hill




When one searches for references on Vinegar Hill, the micro nabe of Brooklyn pops up so it's often difficult to try to find the origins of the West Harlem neighborhood of that name.  The first clue of the Harlem neighborhood's border can be found on the sign at 135th Street and Amsterdam which has Vinegar Hill Corner marked on it.  Then there's the recently closed Vinegar Hill bread market at Broadway and 137th along with the landmark Ladder 23 Vinegar Hill firehouse at 139th Street and Amsterdam.  Community Board 9 describes Vinegar Hill as the northeast section of Manhattanville so we are gathering that the mid West 130's, east of Broadway and bordered by City College and Amsterdam (at the top of St. Nicholas Park) is the general area since it's basically a great hill.  We came across a Vinegar Hill blog from an old resident who grew up in the area back in the 1950's and the neighborhood name was attributed to a popular Irish bar in the area: LINK.  Does anyone remember where this bar was located at or have any other information about the neighborhood's origins?

6 comments:

  1. Thank you for clearing up the Brooklyn/Harlem confusion

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  2. The name came from the Irish immigrants who populated the area in the late 1800's, my Father (B.1918)was the 3rd generation Irish to live and be born there. My Mother's parents immigrated 1899 and 1902 from Ireland to the area my Mother was born and lived there until my parents married and moved after WWII. It was named this because of the Hill and the battle of Vinegar Hill in Wexford. I know of the bar, my father talked about it, it was owned by someone that he grew up with. I don't remember where it was, sorry.

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  3. My parents (b.1918 & 1921 grew up in Vinegar Hill, Harlem. Actually, they never had to say Harlem because until recently I though this was the only Vinegar Hill in NYC. Specifically, 125 St & Amsterdam Avenue. I can hear my mother saying that corner with pride in her soft NY accent. Both 100% Irish; my mother was first generation American and my father a generation or two. The parish was Annunciation. They used to go back for the Vinegar Hill reunions. I found a newsletter or two among their stuff. Sorry, but I don't recall mention of a bar. They too moved (still in Manhattan) after the war.

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  4. The Vinegar Hill bar in question was located on the southeast corner of 136th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. It was owned and operated by the Guy brothers - Artie and Tommy - and remained in the neighborhood until the entire block, from 136th to 135th Streets, Amsterdam to Convent Avenues, was razed as part of the contruction of the North Academic Center of CCNY. The other site occupied by the North Academic Center once contained Lewisohn Stadium. 136th Street between Amsterdam and Convent Avenues no longer exists. The Vinegar Hill bar was a fixture of the neighborhood for many, many years. I was raised and lived across the street from it in 1532 Amsterdam Avenue.

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  5. I patronized the bar from 1963 to 1967 while a student at the then City College. The patrons initially were overwhelmingly Irish, many of them Transit workers I seem to recall. By 1967 there was a pretty fair contingent of City College students especially on Friday evenings. The old patrons mostly seemed to welcome the newcomers. I remember the regular bartender as "Ed", low key but also pretty relaxed about the changes. Beer from the tap was 15 cents and Ed comped you after three.

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  6. good memory vinny, the Guy brothers owned the bar and on any given day you might find Eddie or Artie. Both were great basketball players in high school and Artie was all city from Cardinal Hayes. The bar was populated by Irish and many cops and firemen. It produced a number of sports teams and the top of the bar was covered with trophies. It relocated to 215th and 10th avenue but never had the same cache

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