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.
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.
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.
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. firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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: email@example.com
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"?