Stable Row and the
Geography of Parking Garages in Manhattan
At the turn of the 20th century, horses were a primary provider of motive power and New York City was home to an estimated 74,000 horses and 4,600 stables. The Upper West Side was becoming a fashionable neighborhood of row houses and apartment buildings. Amsterdam Avenue was the area's chief service corridor, which undoubtedly reduced the avenue's desirability for residential purposes compared to the blocks to the east and west. The blocks between Broadway and Amsterdam and West 75th to West 77th streets became the home to a number of stables and the area became known colloquially as "Stable Row." (CPC 2007, Lueck 2006)
As automobiles and trucks replaced horses, many of the Stable Row buildings became garages, were replaced by new garage buildings and/or came to house automobile-associated businesses. City directory listings mapped below show the speedy transformation of stables around Manhattan into parking garages in the first two decades of the 20th century. The 1907 directory (Trow 2007) lists 71 garages and 681 livery stables in Manhattan (58 and 534 of those addresses, respectively, remained geocodable in 2009). By 1926, almost all of the stables were gone, replaced by 394 listings for garages out of 1,355 total listings for auto-related businesses (1,068 were geocodable in 2009). By 2009, an online yellow pages site for NYC (nyc.com 2009) listed 916 unique garages (848 geocodable) in Manhattan, although barren areas may indicate that this listing has significant omissions.
(click thumbnails for larger maps)
In the 1926 listings, there are 47 addresses of garages common with 1907 listing of stables, although the actual number of stables converted into garages may be higher due to street number changes.
As of summer 2009, 23 of the 1907 stable addresses seem to still be in use as parking garages, although there are likely missing addresses from both years and further investigation would be needed to determine exactly which of these buildings are the same.
|1907 Business||2009 Business||Address||Zip|
|Hirschhorn Brothers / H. Moore & Son||Imperial Parking Systems||59 Allen St||10002|
|Barnett George S.||Garage Management Company||122 West 3 St||10012|
|Sebastiani Lorenzo||Kinney System Inc||224 Mulberry St||10012|
|Rudden Thomas||Central Parking System||14 Charlton St||10014|
|Seaich William H. Seaich / Opera Stables||Garage Mgmt Company Llc||142 East 31 St||10016|
|Egan John J.||205 E 38 St Parking||205 East 38 St||10016|
|Quinn Jacob||The Mallah Organization Inc||213 East 38 St||10016|
|Schuchman George||43rd Parking Llc||231 East 43 St||10017|
|Mason Stable Co (ltd)||Garage Management Company||218 West 50 St||10019|
|Colorado Boarding Stables||Rapid Park Industries||225 West 58 St||10019|
|Bennett Invalid Coach||Garage Management Corporation||124 East 63 St||10021|
|Kayton Simon||Sas Parking Svces Inc||182 East 73 St||10021|
|Kriete Christine||Garage Management Company||305 East 80 St||10021|
|Goodman Jacob M. & H.||Rapid Park Industries||441 East 78 St||10021|
|Arnheiter Acton||Meyer's Parking System Inc||154 East 53 St||10022|
|N Y Cab Co||Carousel Parking||201 West 75 St||10023|
|Cedarhurst Boarding Stables||Kinney System Inc||147 West 83 St||10024|
|Taylor Jacob||Wilfred 19 St Garage Inc||203 West 77 St||10024|
|Ansonia Stable Co||Garage Management Company||271 West 87 St||10024|
|Henry Adrian L.||West 108 St Parking Garage Corp||234 West 108 St||10025|
|Star Stables (inc)||Garage Management Company||113 East 84 St||10028|
|Witkin & Kanzer||Garage Mgmt Company Llc||167 East 84 St||10028|
|Pick. I. & Sons||Icon Parking||156 East 105 St||10029|
Although Stable Row remained in some form for over a century, low-rise buildings have been greedily eyed by developers during the sporadic bursts of building activity that afflict the city from time to time (Gray 1987). The "Roaring" 1920s saw the construction of numerous tall residential buildings on the Upper West Side, with notable additions to the stable row area including 2126 Broadway (The Beacon Theatre and Hotel, 1927), 2138 Broadway (1924), 2162 Broadway (Manhattan Towers, 1930), 360 West 77th (1929).
The construction bubble of the early 21st century resembled that of the 1920s and lead to the demise of the 348 Amsterdam (Mason Stables) and everything on West 76th Street for the construction of residential towers and a Jewish Community Center.
A closer look at maps of the Upper West Side indicates that Stable Row may not have been the most dense concentration of stables in the neighborhood. Stables (and, later, garages) were scattered around the neighborhood and a cluster of stables around 66th street between Amsterdam and West End Avenue near the old railyard may have been more significant in terms of numbers of animals. That area (as with a number of stable areas on the lower East Side) was obliterated during urban renewal in the 1950s and 1960s.
(click thumbnails for larger maps)
Stable Row Buildings
The New York Cab Company (318 - 330 Amsterdam at 75th St) is a Romanesque Revival style building designed by C. Abbott French and built between 1888-1890. It originally was one of the numerous stables run by a a firm incorporated in 1884 that provided horse-drawn carriage service using practices later adopted by the auto taxi industry, including fixed fares, badged drivers and yellow-painted carriages. With the coming of both the automobile and the subway in the first decade of the 20th century, the stable was converted to a succession of automotive tenants in 1910. A painted sign for Sheridan Square Motors still existed on the western wall of the building as of 2009. The building was landmarked by the city in 2006 with the finding that the building, "...has a special character, special historical and aesthetic interest and value as part of the development, heritage, and cultural characteristics of New York City" (LPC 2006a).
207 West 75th is an attractive little row house just to the west of the NY Cab Company Building and is listed in the 1907 City Directory as a stable business run by Sarah Abbott. It seems much too small to have housed many animals and may simply have been an office or veterinary facility for the stables next door. Indicative of the changes in the neighborhood at the end of the 20th century, it went from being offices for a veterinarian and a plumber to a high-end tanning salon.
332 Amsterdam (at West 76th Street), in contrast to its neighbor to the south, had a somewhat less attractive pedigree. A 1926 City Directory lists occupants of the site as Hassler NY Co. (auto supplies), Harry J. Dornan (auto supplies), and W.G. Young and Co. (206 West 76th, auto repairs). I recall it being an abandoned service station when I came to the neighborhood in the early 1990s and the lot became the home to a Jewish Community Center in 2000.
210-216 West 76th Street (at the SE corner of Broadway) was listed by the city as being built in 1914 and, therefore, probably was always a garage. However, despite being listed by the city as being built in 1925, 210 West 76th Street is listed in the 1907 City Directory as the home of the West End Stables. The 210 had more ornamentation than the fairly bland 216, which gives some indication that it heralded from an earlier and more elegant period. However, both met the same fate in 2009 when they were demolished to make way for yet another luxury dormitory for rich people.
The Mason / Dakota Stable Building (342 Amsterdam btw 76th and 77th) was commissioned by real estate investor Edmund Coffin, Jr. (1844-1929) and built between 1891 and 1894. The design by Bradford Gilbert (1853-1911) combined Romanesque Revival and Dutch Renaissance Revival elements, and used color and texture rather than ornamentation to provide character. In 1912 it was renamed the Dakota Stables and modified for use as an automobile garage. It was renamed the Pyramid Garage in the 1950s (LPC 2006b).
This Dakota Stables should not be confused with a previous Dakota Stables that is listed in the 1907 City Directory at 210 West 75th Street. That building was demolished in 1911 and ultimately replaced by the Beacon Theatre and Hotel (Gray 1987).
The layout was notable in that it wrapped around the buildings on the corner of 76th street, giving it entrances on 76th Street, 77th Street and Amsterdam. In a common developer tactic, the final owner stripped much of the historic detailing while the building was under consideration for landmark status and, thus, removing the reason for protecting it (Lueck 2006). It was demolished in 2007 and replaced by The Harrison, a pleasant but conventional luxury dormitory for rich people.
West 77th Street retained much of the service character of the area after its neighbors to the south met the developer's wrecking ball.
203 West 77th Street is listed in the 1907 City Directory as a stable run by Jacob Taylor. City building records list this structure as being built in 1920. The detailing of the building seems to indicate somewhat older vintage, although the height and small footprint would seem to indicate an entirely automotive life.
206 West 77th Street, in contrast to some of its more ornate neighbors, represents an entirely functional aesthetic, which may reflect its 1929 construction date or later modifications.
205 West 77th Street is a firehouse built for Engine Company 74 around 1900. The first fire wagons were likely horse-drawn.
219 West 77th is listed in city records as having been built in 1917. Although the gray coat of paint obscures what might actually be a fairly attractive building, it has likely been a garage for its entire existence.
2182 Broadway wrapped around a corner building, giving it entrances on both Broadway and 77th Street. City building records list it as being constructed in 1926 and it is not listed as a stable or garage address in the 1907 or 1926 City Directories. Given its architecture and its frontage on Broadway (away from the rabble on Amsterdam), it was likely unassociated with the other automotive businesses further to the east.
2182 Broadway was replaced with yet another dorm for the bourgeoisie, although at least it wasn't just another generic curtain-wall glass tower.
Claremont Riding Academy (175 West 89th Street between Columbus and Amsterdam) was well north of Stable Row, but deserves mention as an example of what some of the finer stables in the city looked like. It was also the last riding stable in Manhattan, although some stables to service carriage horses survived in the West 30s and 40s.
(Shapefiles are in ESRI format for use with ArcGis or QGis mapping software)
City Planning Commission (CPC). 2007. Calendar No. 18. http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/pdf/cpc/070217.pdf (last accessed 27 August 2009)
Gray, Christopher. 1987. Streetscapes: The Dakota Stables. New York Times, 24 May. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B0DEFDD133AF937A15756C0A961948260 (last accessed 27 August 2009)
Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC). 2006a. New-York Cab Company Stable, Designation list 382, LP-2209. http://www.nyc.gov/html/lpc/downloads/pdf/reports/NYCabCo.pdf (last accessed 27 August 2009)
Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC). 2006b. Mason Stable Building. http://www.landmarkwest.org/.../Stables/LPC%20Dakota%20Stable%20Building.pdf
Lueck, Thomas J. 2006. Former Stables on the Upper West Side Get Opposite Verdicts on Landmark Status. New York Times, 15 November. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/15/nyregion/15stables.html
NYC Department of City Planning (DCP). 2007. MapPLUTO (geographic data). http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/bytes/applbyte.shtml (last accessed 27 August 2009)
nyc.com. 2009. Yellow Pages, Parking Garages. http://www.nyc.com/search/find.aspx?secid=24&name=parking+garage (last accessed 27 August 2009).
Trow Business Directory. 1907. New York City, "Garages".
Trow Business Directory. 1907. New York City, "Stables, Livery".
Phillips Business Directory. 1926. New York City (various listings for automotive-related businesses).
Last update 10 September, 2009