Top Five Lost Scenes in Inwood

Inwood, lost scenes, history Top Five Lost Scenes in Inwood

02 August 2017
In anticipation of my upcoming MWA-NY panel presentation, NY: Scene of the Crime, on Aug. 9 at the Inwood Branch of the NYPL, I thought I might offer:

Top Five Lost Scenes in Inwood

1. Springs

Everyone needs a mission in life. James Reuel Smith's was to photograph The Springs and Wells of Manhattan and the Bronx, New York City, at the End of the Nineteenth Century.

This photograph attests to the little-known fact that Inwood had some of the freshest water in New York City.

Read more about James Reuel Smith and his quest at

2. Annie Seaman's Home

Hey, if you're from Inwood, you know EXACTLY what this picture is all about. If not, well I encourage you to find out. To see what once lay behind that arch (including the story of a bounder, a grief-crazed widow, greedy relatives, a contested (possibly forged) will and poodles, take a look here:
3. Farms
Okay, I'm not really that cruel. Here's a sneak peek at what once lay behind the arch.

There. Back there on the horizon. But you should really take a look at the foreground. In 1895, it was listed as the last wheat field in New York. But the farming heritage of Inwood held on for a while beyond that.

4. The Isham Estate
In particular, what is now Isham Park was once the estate of a gentleman farmer, complete with a freshwater spring where "Isham's horses and three cows come to the spring about noon for their drink, the cows respectfully giving precedence when a thirsty horse approaches by rising lumberingly and moving away with dignified alacrity." Two years after William Isham's death, his daughter, Julia Isham Taylor, donated six acres of her father's estate to the city as parkland. The event was memorably commemorated -- to say the least. What I would give to have seen that Irish Lilt at the bottom right of the clipping.
5. Tryon Hall: The Billings Estate
Built by Cornelius Kingsley Garrison Billings, the horse-fancying President of the People's Gas, Light and Coke Company of Chicago, Tryon Hall featured a "heated swimming pool, a two story squash court lined in maple and even a 'fumed oak' bowling alley." John D. Rockefeller, Jr. persuaded Billings to sell him his estate as the future location of the Cloisters museum; however, local protest preserved the home until it was destroyed in 1926 by a fire that, according to the Times, "spouted fire and smoke like a volcano."
© - Erica Obey
Photos © - George Baird