Memories of old Washington Heights

A site dedicated to those who grew up in the old Washington Heights neighborhood. This site is an ongoing project and it is created by submissions from people who want to preserve the memories of old Washington Heights. Please feel free to submit your scanned photos and memories to:

Old Photos

Please Note: The following submissions were sent to a different site about old Washington Heights called "Personal memories of Growing up in the Heights" I reposted them in order to preserve the memories and photos. The original sites can be found at:

This site is an ongoing project and it is created by submissions from people who want to preserve the memories of old Washington Heights. Please feel free to submit your scanned photos and memories to:

-Thank You


Old trollies on 181st street

Raul (AL) Conde Riverdale New York

"I guess the best place to start telling you about my memories of Washington Heights should probably be from the beginning as I remember it. I was raised in the 1940's and 1950's, on 160th Street between Fort Washington Avenue and Riverside Drive. It was a beautiful place to grow up and my friends and I would congregate at a wall that stretched from 157th to 164th Streets, and it was known as the "Greenees". This special spot overlooked New Jersey where we could see Palisades Park, the George Washington Bridge, and of course, we always had access to some great adventures exploring the area at the "Little Red Light House" under the GW Bridge. During those hot and sweltering summer nights in the 1940's and 1950's, everyone would come together at the "Greenees" wall to enjoy conversation and try to catch a cool breeze from the river (there were no air conditioners in those days). During the long cold winter months, we would all enjoy great snow events by riding our sleds down the steep hills at the drive along the wall.

Most of us who were lucky enough to be raised in Washington Heights should remember the Lowe's Rio movie theater that was located on Broadway. In those days, not only could you see a feature movie, two or three serials, six cartoons and newsreels, and you would get ticket for a chance to win a prize which consisted of glasses or plates, all for the admission fee of twenty-five cents. In addition to the theater, a poolroom could be found on the second floor of the same building. Right next to the theater, was a great Mom and Pop candy store, where we looked forward to having ice cream sodas, chocolate egg creams, lime Ricky's, banana splits and at the same time were able to buy our hero comic books. At the end of this same block, you could always find friends gathering at E&G Luncheonette. This was a favorite gathering place of teenagers who would come together to talk about the next dance party, who was dating who, or what was happening at school, and this was usually done while eating a hamburger and drinking a coke.

When I attended grammar school (Saint Rose of Lima) located at 164th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, it was at lunchtime that we all looked forward to having our lunches at "White Tower", located on 165th Street and Broadway, across the street from Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. It was a wonderfully inexpensive way for us to gorge on hamburgers and soda. There was also a public school named "Stitt", which was a place that some of my friends and I, whose names you might recognize, Kenny Rankin, and Larry Khoury, who later took the name Tiny Tim, would gather. We hung out at this particular school to listen to the neighborhood singing groups practicing a new and exciting type of music, music they called "Rock And Roll". There was one particular group who had a lead singer named Frankie, and he seemed to have boundless energy, and an extremely high voice, . . . this group was called "Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers". I found myself loving this new sound in music, and just knew that I had to be a part of it.

It wasn't until I went to George Washington High School, that I was able to realize my dream by joining a singing group called the Spirals, and the first song we recorded was called "School Bells". The "Spirals" were mainly made up of my school friends, Larry Loeb, Larry Rizzo, Mike Cole, Paul Towey, and myself, Raul (Al) Conde. We would meet on weekends at Chat&Nibbles" Luncheonette on just across the street from the 175th and Broadway Lowe's Movie House.

We would practice our music near the park on Fort Washington Avenue, at an area we called the dead end. Because we all loved this new music, we were lucky enough to be able to enjoy it even more at our Saturday night dances at Saint Spyridon Greek Church. Following our dances, we would usually end our evening at "Bickfords" Restaurant on Broadway and 181st Street; at "Al's Diner" on 184th and Broadway; at Cinderella's at the corner of Wadsworth Avenue and 181st Street; or at "Falcaros Bowling Alley". "Falcaros" was located at the subway level on 181st Street and St. Nicholas Avenue. Speaking of subways, there was absolutely no place like the tunnels for practicing our musical harmony. It was a sure thing that the people coming in and out of the subways either loved or hated our music, . . . there was absolutely no in-between.

After leaving the Spirals, I joined a group called "The Chevrons", which included friends I had made on Nagle Avenue, Marty Trautman, Gary Giordan, Dennis Minoque aka Terry Cashman, and Frank Willams. We would practice at the YMHA on Nagle Avenue, and recorded several regional hits. Our first national hit was called "Lullabye ". In between all of the above, mostly everyone I knew enjoyed other great places where we would be entertained or have their food cravings satisfied. These were places like "Nick's Tea Room" on 181st Street, "Good Will Chinese Restaurant" (just across the street from the "RKO Coliseum movie house"), the "St. James Restaurant" (an elegant place in it's time), and of course, "Nedicks" for a quick hot dog and a orange drink. There were several movie houses in a row on 181st Street between St. Nicholas and Audubon Avenues, the "Lane", the "Gem" and the "Astral". Let's not forget about the "Heights" Movie Theater where the first foreign movies were seen! All of these were located within blocks of each other and all of these were always packed with movie lovers. There was great shopping on 181st Street where you could get anything and everything you needed at Wertheimer's Department Store! Some of us can remember spending our allowances in "Woolworth's", and we could get a great lunch at "Horn & Hardharts", which was probably one of the very first "fast food" and "fun places" to eat. We also had a "White Castle" on the corner Audubon Avenue on 181st Street, where a great hamburger experience could be had. If you were looking for a great potato knish or a corned beef sandwich on rye, you could find it Arnold's Deli on 181st Street between Broadway and Fort Washington Avenue, . . . and don't forget the sour pickle that you hand picked yourself from a barrel. Our parents would buy our school shoes from "Indian Walk"on 181st Street, we'd get our school supplies or toys at "Hobbyland" on 184th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue, (has since moved to 181st Street and Broadway), and so on and so on! Last but not least, if it was Mother's Day and we needed flowers, they were bought at "Ft. Tryon Florists", on 181st Street and Broadway; and believe it or not, the original owner may be gone, but the flower shop and its name is still thriving.

We were all within walking distance of everything we needed including our Public, Jr. High or High Schools, and the only locks we depended on were those on the bathroom doors. We never could have imagined metal detectors or gated up stores. Washington Heights, . . . what a great place to live!

Washington Heights in the 40's and 50's was a wonderful time and place to grow up. I will always look back on these memories as a better way of life, a life that was filled with unequaled fun times.

I hope I have sparked memories of your own, of a wonderful place to grow up, a place we called "Washington Heights".

Olga NYC

"I was living in NC, but had to come back to NYC and take care of my parents. Who still reside on Bennett Ave. I am only 40yrs old and remember some of the stores mentioned her from 181st. Please keep this web page updated. I enjoy reading all about the heights. I grew up on 171st and Amsterdam Ave. Then moved to 186st and Bennett Ave.( I believe we were the 2nd hispanic family to move into that area.) I used to visit with Ms. Mary Dawson( she was the wife of the sports writer for the NY Times Jimmy Dawson) She would tell me stories of the heights , she had great picture too... Please if any one has pictures of Palisades Amusement Park, please post them. I tell my kids that it was just like Coney Island but better. I would like to ask a question for some reason I keep remembering that we used to swim in the Hudson River? when I used to go to the Palisades or am I confusing it with when I used to go to Coney Island?
(I also attended P.S 115 & P.S. 132 and JHS 143 as well as H.S GW). Aagain I can't express the joy I get from reading and looking at the pictures.
thank you very much for this site, it is such an enjoyment to read."

Marcy (Mishkin) Alvo Anandale, VA

"Hello, I was entranced by your web site as my family history is steeped in Washington Heights. Both sets of grandparents settled there from Europe. My father maintained a dental practice on 191st and Wadsworth Avenue his entire career. I myself was born at Jewish Memorial Hospital in 1950. My maternal grandparents had a Singer sewing machine store on 181st St. and my grandfather was well known in the neighborhood. I have some photos which I can send if you are interested.

Thanks for keeping old memories alive. I can't wait to share this website with my aunt and uncle."

Yvonne Hernandez San Juan, Puerto Rico

" What a wonderful site!!! I wish there were more photos from 1957 to 1965. I was born in 1952. My parents moved to 511 West 171st Street (we had High Bridge Park down the corner), when I was 5 years old. My mother gave birth to my brother at Columbia Presy Hospital in October of 1957. My father and uncles worked there in the laundry department. My sister graduated from PS 115 and GW. I went to PS 173 and was there till the new school was built, PS 128. I got to enjoy the new school for 2 years. Then I went on to Humbolt Jr High 115 when I graduated from 6th grade from PS 128. (Remember the autograph books we would get at graduation time??). I finished 7th grade at PS 115 when we were moved to the new JR High PS 143 Eleanor Roosevelt Jr. High. I finished 8th grade there before my parents decided to move back to Puerto Rico in 1965. I was happy and sad at the same time. I remember going to White Castle near Columbia Pres Hospital, buying comics at 5 cents, spalding balls and playing handball, playing checkers in the middle of the street, skating, throwing ballons filled with water from the roof, jump rope, trick or treating at Halloween as soon as I got home from school, going to church on Sundays at St. Rose of Lima, playing with my friends at play street where incarnation Church was located, going to confession on Saturday nights,having a cherry soda at Mr. Gregory's, going to the A& P, double features at RKO or Loews.

Someone asked about doll hospital on Broadway, I remember that place. I had my mom take my Shirley Temple and Barbie dolls for fixing up a few times. By the way, I still have the Shirley Temple and Little Miss Revlon dolls. Those were wonderful times that I constantly remember with watery eyes. I often tell my 3 sons how fortunate I was to have lived there. My husband was baptized a week earlier at the same church I was baptized (St. Rose of Lima), and guess what? He was raised in Brooklyn and didn't move to Puerto Rico with his parents until he was around 16. We met in 1975 and got married in 1977. Turns out my parents knew his uncles and aunts that had lived in Washington Heights. What a surprise we both got that evening at our wedding reception. Please continue to post updates. I will be looking forward to it."

Maureen L. Wertheim

"Having been born in Wadsworth Hospital in 1955, which my mother walked to from our apartment building on 192nd and Wadsworth Avenue, I attended PS 189 and have my original composition book where I learned the ABC's. My dad was a butcher for Bloch and Falk and I sledded down Snake Hill and took the subway up, one stop to warm up."

Susie Hirsch (now Spokany) from 56 Bennett Ave

I've been back to good old "Melvin Hall" several times since leaving in 1960. I remember endless nights in "Al's Diner", as a teen. I went to P.S.132, but then left the "neighborhood" to attend Hunter JHS, and then Music & Art. But I've stayed in touch with a few of my Washington

Heights friends, like Bobby Weber ( Ft. Washington Ave.) and Gracie Graupe, Dorothy Katz. I'd love to find Pearl Frisch from 56 Bennett Ave. and anyone else from the building, like Mike Einhorn, Or Lee and Marie Einhorn, Irene Krantz ( I visited with your Mom), or Joanie Krantz. I remember it all as if it were yesterday. I guess we all miss those simpler times. Who remembers the teachers from 132, like Miss Opisso, and Mrs. Klein, Mrs. oh my oh my. Soooo long ago.Let me hear from you."

Alan Berger St. Petersburg, Florida.

"It's great reading thru everyones memories of the heights. I lived at 900 W. 190th St., corner of 190 and Ft. Wash. Ave. from 1955 - 1970. Also attended PS 187. I remember Mr. Alter. Does anyone remember Ms. Marva Lucas, 6th grade teacher. She was one of the best teacher's I ever had. Also Mr. Orange 5th grade. First and second grade I went to the Barnard School for Girls ( only 2 grades with boys allowed ) on Ft. Wash Ave, and was bar mitzvahed at the Ft. Tryon Jewish Center. Does anyone remember Aunt Daisy's nursery school on Bennett Ave just of 187th St., or Abes cany store and newstand on 187th st. After 1970, we moved to Riverdale and I went to the Barnard School for Boys, but still went to the heights alot as I had several friends still living there.

I went back to NY for the first time about 2 years ago, and drove thru the old neighborhood. Boy have things changed. What ever happened to Gideons bakery ? I can still taste the baked goods from there in my memories. It's nice to have found a site dedicated to the heights. Keep up the good work"

Rose Zunz Sowadsky Alpharetta, Georgia

"What wonderful memories! Only people from Washington Heights can appreciate the way of life the area represented. This article was sent to me from my dearest friend. We met in the Heights when we were nine years old. Now we're both 70 and still the very best of friends. I attended P. S. 132, the School of Industrial Art and CCNY.My parents and I came to Washington Heights in 1938 from Germany. Our first apartment was on the corner of St. Nicholas Avenue and 177th street. We then moved to 181st street and I lived there until I got married in 1954. My husband and I then moved to Inwood. We had three children and lived there until 1969. We then moved to Atlanta, Georgia. We now live in Alpharetta, Georgia a town north of Atlanta.Does anyone remember the blizzard in the late 40's? The schools even closed! My friend lived on 183rd strret and we played stickball (with the boys) using sewers as bases. There was little traffic and we could play a long game before a car came by.

We loved going to Highbridge on Sunday's, Fort Tryon Park, Nick's, movies and so many simple things. It was a good life."

Andrew Colorado

"Hi, I grew up at 485 W. 187th which is between Amsterdam and Laurel Hill Terrace.My family and I lived there until 1963.I attended PS 189, JHS 52 and GW. My parents had also attended GW and they had met when they both lived as teens on 187th and Wadsworth.. Every time I visit NYC, ( I now live in Colorado) I go to the Heights and walk the streets with tears in my eyes, lost in visions of the past. I LOVE NYC and especially the Heights."

Lew Geiger Beaverton Oregon

" Lived in the Heights from l933-l942. Attrndrd PS l73,ll5 aand The High School of commerce. Hung around the famous meeting place, "The Wall" on 175th St and Ft. Washington Was a member of the Bulldogs Athletic Club. Played basketball at thr Broadway Temple and softball at PSl73. Some of the old gang that comes to mind, Stan Cohen,Sonny Schwartz, Jack Rucker,Hal Harris. If any of you guys or others are familiar with this gang, I would centeraly like hearing from you. I now live in Beaverton,Oregon. I can be reached at my e-mail"

Carol Belleas

"I must say this is really a walk down memory lane. I has stirred my heights juices. I forgot to mention in my last article, that my name is Carol Belleas(nee Leslie) I was born in the University Heights Hospital in the Bronx (no longer there) June 22, 1938. I went to kindergarten at P.S 132 and to this day I am still friends with a classmate, John Campanelli. We often talk about the old neighborhood, and how it has changed. He still goes there every now and again to visit his mother-in-law. I went to 132 with him till the zones changed, and had to atttend P.S. 173 starting third grade. We met up again in P.S 115. After graduation, I went to George Washingto High and he went to Samuel Gumpers. I remember the trolly cars on 181st street and Bdway. I would see them on my way to school(132) It was a sad day when the RKO was torn down. Also a sad day to not be able to go to Loews to see a movie any more. I was an usherette there in the late 50's and got to know all the words and songs from Seven Brides For Seven Brothers. Thank you for the memories of Nick's tea room. I baby sat for a friend who worked there. Also remembering Wertheimers. I remember the uniformed man that sat out side on a little wooden stool, and kept an eye on all the baby carriages while the mothers shopped. The cafeteria that so many of you remember (corner of 181st St and St. Nick) was the old Horn n' Hardarts. I would stop there on my way home from George Washington to get the best baked beans I have ever tasted. You would put a quarter in the slot, lift up the little glass door, and pull out your beans. Wow!! I can still taste them. This site brings back so many good memories. Does anyone remember Albrechts store? And Cushmans bakery on the corner of 181st and Fort Washington Ave. Thank you so much for the great memories.!! Can't wait till the next installment."

Fred Madsen Long Beach, California

I am so happy to have come across this site. It never occurred to me that I could miss my old neighborhood so much. My family was one of the first, if not THE first, black family to move into the area. What an experience that was! PS187 was my very first school. I still remember my first grade teacher Mrs. Fink, followed by Mrs. Gisenburger, Mrs. Schindles, Mrs. Heller (who years later taught my nephew), Mrs. Douglas and finally, Mrs. Schwartz.

My family lived in the basement apartment at 180 Pinehurst Avenue until my last year of high school. As I write now, the memories of the cobble street leading down Pinehurst to 187th Street, the pizza place around the corner, the bakery, the butcher shop (where my mom used to buy the Kosher franks) and all of my friends come back, reminding me of the bext moments of my childhood. By the way, I saw a post by Wendy Packer. I wonder if you are the same Wendy who is the brother of Perry Packer, one of my PS187 classmates and one of my group of friends. If I remember correctly, the Packers lived in an apartment building across the street from PS187, and a little further south on Cabrini Blvd.

Diane (Rubinstein) Helfgott

I grew up on Pinehurst Avenue, between 180th and 181st Sts, and went to PS 132, JHS 115, and George Washington High School, graduating in 1960. My husband, Paul lived around the corner. We married in 1962 and have two children and five grandchildren. We often talk about those great times, where everyone watched out for everyone else, and all that we wanted was close by. I've been trying to catch up with old friends and classmates.

Grace F

We were there in the forties, right up to early fifties and going under the desks to escape atomic bombs, no kidding. Even then, I knew that was crazy. We had great teachers, and what happened to the kids? We were together from kindergarten or first grade, right through, and now there's no way to find each other. That was the IG class and in JHS 52, the SP classes which got us out in two years, rather than three. Maybe it was elite, but so is the basketball team for basketball players. (We never had basketball, anyway.) Fort Tryon park was a true wonder with rocks and a giant willow tree that was halved in a hurricane in the forties. We had blackouts during the war where the black shades were pulled down, and we had Ohav Sholaum near Jewish Memorial Hospital and Wadsworth Hospital was in the other direction. We were all Jews and a few Irish Catholics and one or two Presbyterians. We were lucky kids even if having a car was rare and we all rented apartments and did not have a house. We were in the country part of Manhattan.

Phil Bergman

Just by chance I've run into the Washington Heights web site. What a treat. When I get a chance I'll write some about growing up from about five years old to my late twenties on 160th and 161st, living on the 'Wall' with a dozen different languages from Europe, belonging to 'The Rajahs', headquarters in a back alley converted storeroom on 161st with ping pong table, music, dancing...hanging out at'The PX', dice against the Wall... how families used to have their special whistle from the fifth and sixth floors of the apartment buildings to call kids in to dinner from the streets where we played stickball. Later on, I moved from photographer for The Hatchet at GW High School, graduating in 1951, to the newspaper business as a re-writeman, reporter and editor...then TV writing and producing news programs at ABC-TV. My brother, Jules, was Science Editor and correspondent for ABC-TV for many years. There have been thousands of success stories, you have already put together so well.

Joni Basso) Pensack University Park Florida

This is a fabulous site. Thanks to all the contributors. I lived on the heights from baby-hood 1932-1953 when I was married. I have some wonderful Times shared with Friends the Tagliaferro family , the Mugavins , the Popalardos, and the Rossis. I lived on 185th st. and Audubon., and walked to PS 189 , I attended freshman year and half of sophmore year at an annex in the Inwood area. On to George Washington high school. We had such fun playing curb ball, "chinese handball", jump rope, Johnnie -on -the -pony, and I was the marble "ace" on the street. We went to the Lane every Saturday and spent the whole day there. Remember the "chapters'? I couldn't wait untill the next week to see what happened. Th Empress was on the same street as the Gem movie house also. Thanks to whoever started this , as it is such fun to go d own memory lane. My mother lived on the heights growing up and the family name was Giancotti. I remember the fun we had on 185th street between Audubon and Amsterdam Aves. We had a great group of kids various ages and backgrounds. I attended PS 189 and GW. lived there from 1932(baby) 'till 1953 when I married and moved to NJ. I , too remember the big snow storm during Christmas vacation 1947 ? We kid would hike up St Nick to 190th street and sled down. What great fun that was !! Does anyone remember the "serials" at the Lane theatre ? We would go on Saturday morn at 10 AM and see 2 films the news and the "chapter'. I was especially fond of "Wonder Woman" , she was my heroine. We had great teachers at both schools , Ms. and Mr. Draddy, Mrs. Samuels , Mr Gussow. and the principal, Mr Chaikin. I don't remember the names of my teachers at GW , but with the help of my Art and Math I applied to the Fashion Institute and won a scholarship. I will always be grateful to them.. Shopping on 181st in Miles and Becks also Grants the 5 & 10 and buying my Easter outfits every year. I attened St Elizabeth's on Tues and Thurs. afternoons for religious instruction. I guess we all could keep on and on . Those were wonderful and safe times. We were so innocent and so lucky to have grown up in such happy times.

Bob Gaines

Back in the years between 1931 until I left in 1963, I was Bob Ginsburg. We lived at 511 W. 186 Street. What memories this web site brings back. To me, the Heights was like a small town placed in one of the nicest parts of NYC. Oh how I treasured our entertainment center which included the Loews, the Uptown, the Audubon, the Bridge, the Coliseum, the Heights, the Gem, the Lane, and the lowly Empress (which on any given Saturday morning offered 3 movies and nine cartoons. I think the price was nine cents). There were other things as well, like the "Y" on Fort Washington Avenue where guys and girls would congregate (later it was replaced by the Bus Depot). And all those great kosher delis(on 181st, 187st (Epstein's on 189st which was the best). I also remember Bickford's cafeteria and the pizza downstairs in the 181st terminal next to Falcaro's Bowling Alley. Of course, I also remembered Arnie Portacarro who went onto the Philly A's. Terrific pitcher. In those days (circa 1947-1950) George Washington High School had a great baseball team. My choice, however, was always softball, which I did every weekend at the school yard of P.S. 189. My problem was that I had a hitch in my swing. But I could run 100 yards in 10.1 seconds. So anything I managed to hit on the ground was almost a guaranteed hit. My nickname was "Elmer" after Elmer Vallo right fielderof the A's. Why, because I usually wound up in right field (that's where the least valuable players were sent). However, there was a lot of talent on that school yard. Some of the guys went onto the minor leagues. And there were others that could have made it also. Does anyone remember Buster Hickey and his brother Tom? Or John Annacelli. Or Astor (sorry can't recall his first name)? There were many others who are faded memories now. Like Gilbert Price, Joe Hanoka, etc. Plus, there were also the crap games in the school yard. The police knew exactly when to drive their car in, scare the hell out of the players, pick up the money and ride off. Most of the girls I knew were in the 1953 GW grad class. Some of the names I remember were Marcia Mines (had a crush on her), Lois Kantor, Eve Gugenheim, Sandy Litchenstien, Donna Connor, Beverly Westrum and Rhoda Neidich (she was too good to pass up, so I married her. That was 50 years and 4 children ago. Incidentally, her family owned the Fashion Dress Shop across from the Coliseum for over 60 years) Ah yes, my memories of the Heights were sweet. But it is a different place now. The traffic on 181st is maddening. Gone are all the stores. Gone are all the people. Gone are all the memories. No longer is there a Caruso barbershop on 186th street. No longer is there a Yale (where there's always a sale) drug store. No longer is their a Woolworth. No longer is there a Grants. No longer is there a Wertheimers. My precious world no longer exists. Except here. Thank you, one and all.

Miguel Guerrero. Pittsburgh, Pa since 1999 and lived in Brooklyn (Ocean Avenue right across from Prospect Park) from 1993 until I moved. My fondest memories are of growing up in the Heights. My father was a doctor and we immigrated to the US and NYC in 1959 ( from the Dominican Republic) and lived on 176th between St Nick and Amsterdam from 1959 through 1961. In 1961 we moved to a much bigger apartment at 47 Ft Wash Ave on the corner of 161. The building is still there and my mother still lives in the same apartment. I attended Incarnation from 1st through 8th grade graduating in 1969. I can tell you that not many people even knew where the Dominican Republic was when we first moved to the US. If you were Spanish back then in NYC everyone thought you were Puerto Rican! I have fond memories of growing up in the Heights and going to the RKO and Lowe's as well as spending most summer days at Highbridge pool and buying penny candies across the street from the pool afterwards (although I can't remember the name of the candy store.). I was also witness (and part of) to the change in the people who lived in the Heights. When I started at Incarnation, it was a mix of Irish and Spanish and when I lived at 161st it was mostly Jewish with some Italian still there. Nothing will ever replace playing stickball in the summer and football in the winter on the street right in front of my apartment building. I remember the older folks sitting in chairs in front of the building worrying about us hitting them with the ball. Does anyone remember the game of "points"? Or how about stoop ball? We played them all including Johnny-ride-a-pony. I also noticed a lack of anyone talking about Van Cortland Park. I know it's in the Bronx but whenever you wanted to go to the real "outdoors" nothing beat a ride up on the #2 train (?) to the 242nd street station, last stop for the park. And for those of us who lived in the 161st through 164th street areas in the 60's and 70s who remembers Roger the Good Humor Man? Or how about Freddy's Record store on 165 and Broadway (or was it 166?) where you went to buy your 45s? I would like to see if any of the kids I grew up with see or use this web site. This would include Cookie and Frankie Weisbart ho lived across from us on 161. Johnny Ragonessim Frankie Lopez, Carlos, Tony, Suzanna, Alvin, Eugene, Bruce Barrera and Mark. I have a good number of pictures of growing up in the Heights. I'm trying to figure out how to get them scanned and downloaded on the site. I was referred to this site by a young lady who works for the same bank as I do. She came to a training session in Pittsburgh and in the obligatory introductions at the beginning realized we both grew up in nearby neighborhoods. She attended Good Shepard. I owe her a big thank you for turning me on to this web site. I look forward to being a regular contributor and reader!

Barry E. Nelson - Lancaster, California

Mr. Steve Voloshin Wappinger's description of Washington Heights brought memory induced tears to my eyes. His recollection of my old neighborhood took me back to a place that has seen many changes throughout the years, but continues to serve as a vestige of both old and new world New York. I am guessing that I am probably the youngest contributor on this site, but like the rest of you I too have found memories of the "Heights." From the age of eight I lived at 820 Riverside Drive and 158th Street in 1969. I too recall "The Wall" and its seemingly sprawling "snake like" concrete divider between the upper and lower Riverside Drive. Hornsteins Stationary store was the place were my mother would purchase birthday cards while I would droll over the newest Duncan yoyos or Hotwheel cars for sale. That store was one of my favorite places in the neighborhood to buy toys or gifts.

Speaking of my mother, She worked at the "Rexall" drug store as a counter waitress before the owner skipped town and they turned it into a Kentucky Fried Chicken. That newsstand in front of the drugstore was where I began my comic book collection. If any of you remember the Rexall drug store next to the IRT train station, my mother's name was Edythe and she worked there from 1969-1974. Many celebrities from my era would eat there daily. Tiny

Tim, Freddie Prinze, Geraldo Rivera, Garrett Morris, Charles Rangel, and many more future stars where served by my mother and other hard working waitresses at that establishment. From there, my mother worked as a waitress at Wilson's Bakery up on Amsterdam Avenue and 158th Street. It was also a pleasure to read that Mr. Wappniger remembers Ernie's Supermarket as I do. Boy, have supermarkets changed! I too graduated from P. S. 187.

Although, by the time I graduated it had became I. S. 187. The principal at the time was Sarah Mandel. She like other faculty members, where strict disciplinarians like Dr. Rulas who was the Vice Principal. However, I also remember teachers like; Ms. Lipsky, who, as a sign of the changing times,where very hip and free spirited. 181 street like so many others remember was the place to shop. It seemed like every Christmas season my motherwhisked me onto the #4 bus, which made its way up Fort Washington Avenue, to do our Christmas shopping on 181st street. I attended GW High School for one year and next year I was transferred downtown to the brand new Martin Luther King, Jr. High School on 66th Street across from Lincoln Center and Julliard. It seems that GW became too rough of a place to attempt to get a decent education so for my safety my mother had me transferred. In those days, my movie theater of choice was the San Juan theatre (next to the Audubon ballroom) Two movies and a cartoon was all the entertainment my friends and I ever needed. My life in Washington Heights was beautiful and joyous time for me, and I too will go to my grave with cherished memories of my ole upper Manhattan existence.

Peter Beck Pacifica California

I lived at 605 West 170th Street. I went to PS 173, JHS 115 and Stuyvesant HS. A group of us rode the A train to school every day. I was a member of Boy Scout Troop 718 that was located in the Broadway Temple Methodist Church on 173rd St and Broadway. We used to go to summer camp at the Ten Mile River Scout Camp in Narrowsburg, NY. I lived across the street from the Uptown Theater where we would sneak into the movies as often as we could. I also went to the Loew's 175th Street and was a member of an Irish gang called The Celtics. I was a refugee from Hitler's Germany but because of where I lived, most of my friends were Irish Catholics from St. Rose of Lima parish. I remember running in CYO track meets in the 169th Street armory and watching both roller derby and the 6 day bike races in that armory. We played basketball in the schoolyard of PS 173 and swam in Highbridge pool. I was a Lifeguard at Rockaway Beach 103rd Street for 2 summers then wound up going to Syracusre University. Made a career of the US Marine Corps. Visited the old neighborhood in the early 90's, thought I was back in Vietnam. Things changed a little. Tried to go into my old apartment building but it didn't look too friendly and since I had my wife with me, we opted to return downtown via the #5 bus. That was also quite an experience.I had great times in the Heights. I remember The Lakes of Sligo Inn on 169th Street and the Conemara Bar on Amsterdam Avenue. The Knights of Columbus and the Hibernians would hang out there after their meetings in full dress uniforms. Ah, those were the days. I am now retired in Pacifica, California, 10 miles south of San Francisco. I will always be a New Yorker. Thanks for this website.

Father Henry Beauchamp, C.Ss.R. Rome, Italy

Greetings from Rome, Italy. I only recently discovered this page through the alumni page of St. Elizabeth's elementary School. I am enclosing three photos. The first is of my dad Carmelo Beauchamp. He is pictured in his store C & G Luncheonette which was located on St. Nicholas Avenue between 189th and 190th St. The C and the G stood for Carl (my dad) and George Glamann, who were partners in this Stationary and luncheonette store from 1955-1966. I remember that the neighboring stores were a laundry and tailor service run by a gentlemen I only remember as Max and the other was a linoleum store run by the George Zerabrenic (not sure of spelling) family.

Carl behind the counter

The second picture is of my mom Dolores Beauchamp and my sister Amanda which everyone knew as Mandy. They are pictured in the Wadsworth Terrace park in 1946 sitting on the stone wall that overlooked the steps in that park that made it possible to get down to Broadway.

We lived in Washington Heights until I graduated from St. Elizabeth's School in 1966 and we moved to Puerto Rico. My dad passed away two years ago at the age of 87. My mom is still alive and lives with my sister. I only saw George and Blanche Glaman once, after they moved to Fort Lauderdale in the late 80´s since then, both have passed away. I have only driven through the old neighborhood twice (in the late 80's). It's been a very warm experience finding this page. Thank you for providing this very fine page of memories.

Alfred Lewis. I was born in 1922. I lived on Riverside Drive and 179 th Street, next to he George Washington bridge. I went to PS 132 and to George Washington High School. My freshman year was at Isham , then sophomore year was at Tryon and the third year we were in the main building at 191 st . It was a long walk to school but rich kids that had a nickel could take the subway. I played ball several blocks away on Haven Ave . We played softball and football on a small lot. I remember Carl Hubell who pitched for the New York Giants and who would visit us on the lot. One day he invited us to his apartment and served a dozen of us breakfast and then went thru his closet and gave us baseball equipment ( balls, bats ). At PS 132 Lou Gherig spoke to us as he went to ps 132 and also went to Columbia Univ. and was the famous New York Yankee ball player. We also had a former 132 student called Segar who was the writer and artist of the Popeye the Sailorman. He would draw on a 6ft roll of paper the Popeye and Olive OIL characters and gave me one of the drawings but one of my younger brothers tore it all up. I never forgot it. We used to have 4th of July fire works on the George Washington bridge, which I could watch from my bedroom window on the fifth floor of our apartment. The navy used to have ships stationed in the Hudson River and you could get free rides to the ships for tours. One of my friends was Lester who became a famous naval architect like his father. Another friend was Bobby Cannon whose father was an all American football star at Dartmouth College and he showed Bobby and I how to play football. Later on Bobby got a football scholarship to Notre Dame . Even though we were living during the depression we seemed to have fun and enjoy life.

Bob Mesibov Penguin, Tasmania

Interesting website! I lived in the Heights for 20 years from 1946. In 1973 I emigrated to Australia, where I've been ever since, so my memories haven't been refreshed in a long time! Our family lived on Pinehurst Avenue (no. 187?) until 1954, when we moved around the corner to 240 Cabrini Boulevard. I went to PS 187 when Mrs Froehlich (spelling?) was principal. Her favourite motto was "Just Enough Is Not Good Enough". We had excellent teachers, among them the wonderful but no-nonsense Devanny sisters. I left the neighbourhood on schooldays from 1958 to 1962 to attend Bronx HS of Science, and from 1962 to 1966 to go to the uptown campus of NYU.

Many contributors have remembered particular shops. I can remember many of the shops around 187th St and its junctions with Fort Washington Ave and Cabrini Blvd, and am amazed to think how like a little village it was, with drugstores, groceries, a barber shop, fruit and vegetable shop, liquor stores, bakery, Chinese laundry, laundromat, pizza shop, etc etc, and even an old Italian shoemaker. We were almost self-sufficient in retail! But it was always exciting to walk down 181st St to Broadway and beyond, to Woolworths and the bigger clothing outlets, and to see what films were on the "coming soon" boards outside the RKO Colosseum and Loews 175th. I remember a tradition of walking to the canvas-protected kiosk outside the IND subway entrance on Fort Washington Ave, opposite Bennett Park, very late on a Saturday night to pick up the next day's Sunday NY Times. I also remember a tradition of buying hot rolls and rye bread early on Sunday morning at the bakery at FWA and 187th St, close to "The Steps", which makes me wonder how much I could have slept on Saturday nights!

Like other contributors I have very fond memories of Fort Tryon Park and its gardens (and the Closters), both in the lush, bright green of summer and the pale light of winter (another sled nut from Suicide Hill here). Did the garden sign read "Let no one say/ and say it to your shame/ that all was beauty here/ until you came"? Sundays there were German immigrants, mainly, dressed up formally for a promenade through the gardens, and near the entrance was an old man with a magnificent parrot on a perch. The Sunday crowd was probably the highlight of the week for the squirrels and pigeons, who were fed peanuts (bought in little packets from the Park kiosk) by dozens of little kids.

Bennett Park was also pleasant and safe, partly thanks to the humble man in a green uniform (The Parkie) who kept us little kids in line in the 1950s. There was a plaque on a granite outcrop in the Park announcing that this was the highest point on Manhattan Island, and at the south end of the Park was a set of concrete playing tables where serious-faced European immigrants spent long hours at chess.

It was a nice ethnic mix in the neighbourhood then, with German and Russian Jews, Irish, Greek, Chinese, Hispanics - even a Japanese family, the Otanis, on Pinehurst Avenue. I learned the rudiments of Spanish on the street before I studied it in high school, and what a treat it was on a weekend to walk to Broadway for a family meal of (wait for it) Cuban Chinese food, from a menu in 3 languages. We seemed to be a pretty tolerant lot then, although it wasn't until my high school years that I noticed the black/white divide and realised I had to travel outside the neighbourhood to see black friends.

Before finding this website, I looked over the old neighbourhood on Google Earth, and could hardly believe how little the basic geography has changed in 50 years. The street trees are still there, only bigger. "The Lots", a wonderfully neglected woodland across Cabrini Boulevard from the Mother Cabrini complex, still looks as undeveloped as it did in the 1950s, and is probably still a nature playground for adventurous neighbourhood kids. I hope so! Hello,

Robert K. Jackson Arizona

Hi - Heights resident from 1933 - 1954. Born at St Elizabeth Hospital (now gone?), lived on Pinehurst Ave, then Fort Washington Ave and 178th St, was torn away from the Heights at age 21 by The Army. As the token WASP in the neighborhood, I attended PS 173 across from Jay Hood Wright Park, then JHS115 (Humboldt Junior High), then downtown to Stuyvesant High and NYU. Enjoyed the tennis courts under the GW Bridge, the pool halls around 181st and Broadway (that is until Rev. Poling from FW Collegiate Church chased us back to church).

The "rich kids" all lived in Hudson View Gardens or Castle Village. From a pub booth down 181st St and about Cabrini Blvd we used to see the baseball announcer Vin Scully who dropped in after a game on his way home to Castle Village. I could go on and on.

I have lived in Arizona for about 50 years. I had heard that the Heights now was all about slums, gangs and drugs. My granddaughter is visiting NYC this weekend. She called me from in front of my old flat at 400 Ft. Washington Ave, just yesterday. I asked her what it was like. She said fine -- older folk, young people, kids, clean and well-kept -- and we're not getting mugged Pappy. I was relieved and surprised. Thank you for your website.

Allen Fisher

I grew up on 173rd Street between Haven Ave. and Ft. Wash. opposite J. Hood Wright park. Went to 173, 115 and Stuyvesant. I'd like to get in touch with anyone and all from Mrs. Martin's sixth grade class in P S. 173 around 1944. (a/k/a. "The Martin Marauders". Some names I remember....Stuart Kaufman, Norman Klein, Norman Rosenfeld, Arthur Katz, Ari Kiev, Marjorie Farb, Francine Marcus, Maki Iwamoto, Lily Szoeke, Madeline Hollander, Barbara Werner, Jimmy Fatseas, Dorothy Olsen, Phyllis Kafka, Joan Oliner, Joan Schneller, Louie Edelman, Martin Darensoff, Violet Itkin, Jimmy Fisher,Martha Eigen, Leonard Cohen. How about a reunion! Email address:

The sons of Washington Heights played a significant role in the creation of "Doo-Wop" music

and the development of Rock and Roll in the 1950's.

Washington Heights was called "Doo-Wop Central" by WINS disc jockey Alan Freed

Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers

Who can forget the groups of teenagers harmonizing in the hallways, subway stations,
and the street corners of the "Heights"?