Christmastime has come again to Manhattan’s Audubon Park neighborhood. Wreaths and garlands are appearing on doors and windows and twinkling holiday lights are brightening the increasingly early evenings. The Christmas tree market has returned to the corner of Broadway and 156th Street, and a block south, the Church of the Intercession (the Audubons’ church) is preparing for its Clement Moore Festival, New York’s “oldest Christmas tradition.” Preceding the festival, uptown historian Eric K. Washington will lead his ninth Annual Uptown Trinity Church Cemetery Holiday Tour (sponsored by MAS). And, ushering in the New Year, the Riverside Oval Association is offering the twelfth in its series of illustrated calendars featuring historic images of northern Manhattan.
The Night Before Christmas . . .
Since 1911, the Church of the Intercession has presented a yearly reading of Clement Clarke Moore’s beloved poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (‘Twas the Night Before Christmas). The program begins at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, December 16 with a musical prelude and continues with the reading at 4:00 p.m., followed by a lantern procession to Moore’s grave in Trinity Church Cemetery. This year’s guest reader is Assemblyman Al Taylor. The event is open to the public free of charge. (For a history of the ceremony, read the Audubon Park Perspectives article from December 2011.)
New York’s Oldest Christmas Tradition
A Holiday Reading of ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas (A Visit from Saint Nicholas)
Sunday, December 16, 2018
Prelude Music at 3:00 p.m. Program at 4 p.m.
Assemblyman Al Taylor
will read Moore’s poem at this year’s celebration
Ninth Annual Uptown Trinity Cemetery Holiday Tour
Before the Moore festival, take a tour of Manhattan’s only “rural cemetery,” historic Trinity Cemetery and Mausoleum. Columbia Community Scholar Eric K. Washington will lead this ninth iteration of his popular holiday tour along winding paths that architect and landscape designer James Renwick, Jr. originally laid out in 1843. (Please wear shoes that are suitable for rustic country paths.)
The tour will include visits to the final resting places of such notables as “John James Audubon, naturalist; New York City Mayors Cadwallader D. Colden, Fernando Wood, A. Oakey Hall and Edward I. Koch; Eliza Jumel, adventuress; David Hosack, Alexander Hamilton’s last doctor; John Jacob Astor, merchant; Philip Ernst, original New York Philharmonic flutist; Dita H. Kinney, military officer; Caroline Astor, doyenne of Gilded Age society; Rita de Acosta Lydig, legendary American beauty; Mercedes de Acosta, sapphic paramour of the Roaring ‘20s; and Captain Michael Hogan, high seas adventurer and diplomat.”
For tickets, contact the Municipal Arts Society.
Riverside Oval Association’s 2019 Calendar
The 2019 Riverside Oval Association Calendar is now on sale! This year’s edition features thirteen vintage images of lower Washington Heights, five contemporary photographs illustrating how some of those locations look in the twenty-first century, and as a bonus, a cover image by local photographer Elizabeth Currier entitled “156th Street after a Storm.”
The calendar is a fund-raiser for the ROA’s activities, particularly the ongoing gardening in the Riverside oval at the foot of 156th Street and the installation of tree guards throughout the Audubon Park Historic District. At $12.00 a copy and with an entirely new set of neighborhood images, it’s a bargain as well as “a wonderful way to say ‘Hello from historic Washington Heights.”
Among the images in this year’s calendar are a trolley car at Amsterdam and St. Nicholas with Sylvan Terrace in the background (February) and Troger’s outdoor restaurant at West 155th Street and St. Nicholas Place, along with a contemporary photo of the building, which remarkably, is still there (June).
April features a beautiful look into the home of Jesse W. Benedict, who bought the Audubon homestead from Lucy Audubon in 1864 and over the next decade remodeled what had been an Italianate villa into a Victorian mansion with bay windows (one visible in this photograph), Mansard roof, and various exterior wood and metal ornamentation common in the era. The chandelier, furnishings, carpet, and hangings in this photograph of the parlor all speak to the Benedict family’s wealth and comfort.
September features an interesting view of a little boy sitting on a springhouse that was once at the foot of 158th Street. James Ruell Smith includes the spring in his study Springs and Wells of Manhattan and the Bronx, New York City at the End of the Nineteenth Century and describes the springhouse as “an enclosure about four feet square, the south side made of stones, the north side mostly of pieces of railroad iron, the west side of the natural earth, and the east side of wood. It is covered with a wide board and a large door taken from some house . . . The water is level with the ground. It is cool, quite white and clear, and has a pleasant taste.” Don’t go looking for the fountain now, though; it’s long buried beneath Riverside Drive West.
The 2019 calendar is available for $12.00 plus $2.95 postage.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or
Contact Vivian Ducat, 790 Riverside Drive, Apt. 12A, New York, NY 10032.
Please write checks to: Washington Heights and Inwood Development Corporation
(the Riverside Oval Association’s fiscal conduit)
or PayPal to email@example.com
Further information: firstname.lastname@example.org or +1.917.301.1120
For more on Payan Park and its neighborhood custodians, see the Audubon Park Perspectives article from May 12, 2018.