Thursday, May 6, 2010

☞ REMEMBER: The Old Colonial Park Circa 1935

A little known fact to most is that Jackie Robinson Park, from West 145th to West 155th Street (between Bradhurst and Edgecombe Avenues), was originally called Colonial Park for about 80 years before the name changed in 1978. The archival photos show the intersection of Bradhurst and 145th Street circa 1935, a year before major construction would start to build the swimming pool and recreational armory that stands on the block today. What's also missing are the brick and cast iron gates that one would expect for a park in the early century. Instead, flimsy chain link fences surrounded the land at that time. The top photo shows the same corner but with some of the buildings on Bradhurst Avenue in view at the right hand side. Today, this crossroad has several notable luxury condos developed along this side of Bradhurst, and a Starbucks can be found on the exact corner. The luxury pre-war buildings that still stand today on Edgecombe Avenue can be seen at the top of the promontory, on the lefthand side of the center photo. The last photo shows the verdant park today with its substantial gates in place. Archival photos courtesy NYPL.


  1. Would love to restore the cobblestone streets seen in these photos. FYI - recently the Parks announced that the recreation center at Jackie Robinson Park will be getting a green roof. More info on link below:

  2. Although the cobblestone streets are beautiful, they cause negative impacts on cars and slow them down. Imagine driving from Park Ave and 125th to Park and 42nd over cobblestone. You will take 1 hour.

  3. Maybe cars slowing down by a park is a good thing?

  4. There is no issue with having them by a park or on side streets in many of the downtown neighborhoods or some of the historic streets in Harlem. Just keep them off the main avenues. Is that better?

  5. Cars slowing down is definitely a good thing.

  6. I lived a few blocks away form Colonial Park on w.145st between Broadway and Amsterdam and was in easy walking distance to this park and pool.

    Unfortunately in the mid '60's and 70's this park was dangerous and we could not use this pool as kids were often jumped and robbed if we appearred not to be of the immediate neighborhood.

    Instead we would travel up to Highbridge Park and Pool. At this time Washington Heights and the surrounding areas was beautifully maintained clean and safe. We would rather travel to Highbridge rather than go to Colonial which was sad as it was a beautiful pool and fairly well kept park.

    I'm glad to see the park has been restored as it truly went down hill in the '70's.

    I'm also glad to see that Highbridge is also being restored to its former glory.

  7. Some of the comments on the cobblestone streets are laughable. You guys are talking about riding on cobblestone streets in a car from Park and 125th st to Park and 42nd st and the damage it could cause. Are you serious?

    There a very FEW if any cobblestone streets left in NY much less in Harlem. Belgium block is a prized material by some contracters and there has been stories of builders prying them up from streets in lower Manhattan for some of their customers private projects.

    So what if some vehicles have to exercise some care and caution driving down those streets. Sometimes restoring Harlem to its former beauty is more important than a minor inconvience.

    I and my family had lived in these areas from the 1920's to 1980's. We have seen it all. No one believed me about the beauty of its spacious apartments and about Riverside Drive,and about the various ethnic deli's, clothing stores, etc. Few people even know that the Harlem not only had African-Americans, but also had West Indians, Irish, Russian, Lithuanian,German,Yugoslavian, French,etc all living and working there.

    I know life changes;and believe me have I seen it change in Harlem. But in order for Harlem to REMAIN Harlem sometimes renovaton, restoration and just some old-fashion care and consideration is necessary.

    So please forgive me if I find that some remarks are in my opinion just plain silly.

    In my minds' eye anything that can be reasonably preserved and/or restored of Harlems' former glory is a good thing.

    1. Every word you said is true. Keep what you can of old Harlem. Stop changeing names of places ( or atleast don't remove the original).
      So many famous people lived in Harlem. If their building is still standing, put up a plaque.
      I'm reading African burial grounds are present, put up some sort of recognition, no one expects buildings to be torn down, because of it.
      I was born in the old Harlem Hosp., it's home to me.

  8. Old Harlem was too exciteing for us to loose all of what went on back then. So many exciteing places to go for a night out. You didn't have to leave the neighborhood to eat or have a wonderful time.
    There were alot of clubs. You never knew when you'd run into someone famous. A night out, was just joy. Naturally, the entertainment was top shelf.
    Sunday mornings on 7th Ave. was a fashion show. Church was always the thing then. The women dressed to the nines. Hats were very popular, you wouldn't be caught without one. Any of us (not who hung out Saturday night snuck home quietly (not wanting to be seen out on Sunday morning)
    It was really something to look forward to. All the clubs are gone now. Those down town, will never take their place, I don't believe anything will.
    I was born & baptised there. It'll always be in my heart.