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Reckless blasting in New York City history 1895

I’ve been delving into New York City history today. Yesterday I found out I had made a wrong assumption in my genealogy and I figured today I should figure out what really happened.

Early this year I wrote about my great grandfather William Ready. He died of injuries resulting from a case of reckless blasting on Christmas eve 1895. I had just always assumed the blasting had something to do with creating the New York City subway system.

I was wrong. I was reading a book and learned the subway construction did not start until 1900. So what was going on? Could have been just construction of a building or maybe it was part of a larger project or it could have been anything.

I had found 2 newspaper articles. One through GenealogyBank. It was pretty easy to find with their search. The second was at the NYC Public Library and my brother had done the hard work of getting the exact reference so I could find it. Both articles were dated December 25, 1895. The first was in the NY Herald; the second was in the NY Morning Journal.

Both articles said it was at “the opening of Hawthorn Street at Amsterdam Avenue”. The Morning Call added that this was near 189th Street. As far as I know there is one Amsterdam Ave in New York. I could be wrong so I’d like to hear from anyone who knows of another.

Amsterdam Ave is probably best known through the upper West Side and Harlem but it continues through Washington Heights. It runs next to Highbridge Park and it does intersect with 189th Street. My problem being there is no Hawthorn Street in the area or apparently in all of Manhattan.

So my working hypothesis is that Hawthorn Street has disappeared into the park as parts of the neighborhood were reclaimed as parkland. The Harlem River Speedway was constructed in the 1890s and this later was incorporated into the Harlem River Drive. It seems very possible that the blasting was part of the construction of the Harlem River Speedway but I’ve found no confirmation of that yet.

I’ll be continuing my research to try to nail that part of the story down. But meanwhile does anyone know about a Hawthorn Street in upper Manhattan?

About Jack

I retired in 2008 and so I have more time now to devote to several of my interests The blog here is mainly for my interests in some current events but may have the occasional rant on other subjects. I have also decided to keep my genealogy posts and book reviews here instead of 2 additional blogs (and so simplify my life a little).
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2 Responses to Reckless blasting in New York City history 1895

  1. B.P. says:

    Hi Jack

    Hawthorne Street is the former name of a seven block stretch of West 204th Street which runs east to west from Seaman Avenue to Tenth Avenue. The block is bounded by Academy Street and Emerson (now called 207th Street).

    However it is not directly adjacent to 189th Street. But Tenth Avenue is known as Amsterdam Avenue up to 190th Street, after 190th Street, it changes its name to Tenth Avenue. And there are no streets numbered 191st-200th, because of the topography of the area where there is a steep hill (Fort George) and numbering resumes after Dyckman Street, at West 201st Street.

    You can view plate 45 of the 1897 Bromley Atlas of Manhattan which shows the location of Hawthorne Street (using the zoom feature you can see it clearly):


    Current map of the area:


    Good luck with your research.


  2. Jack says:

    Thanks I see it now. I couldn’t see it on current maps so I figured it might be a renamed street or it disappeared into the park. Now I know. I had just been looking in the 190th and Amsterdam area on old maps and didn’t go far enough. I was impressed and enjoyed the pictures on history on your blog

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