Audubon Park
Essential Reading (alphabetically)
Audubon Park
George Bird Grinnell, Trustees of Hispanic Society of America,1927: NY
George Bird Grinnell was a prolific writer, whose output spanned magazine articles and editorials, scores of books about American Indian, including collections of their folk legends, and a series of books for young people, the "Jack" series, which are at least partially autobiographical.  Fortunately, he also wrote several detailed sketches of Audubon Park in the 1860s and 1870s, including this booklet for the Hispanic Society of America, which is available from the Society’s website (and at a cost of $3.00, it's a real bargain).  Although the book is a reprint and the photographs are grainy, Grinnell’s direct writing style and eye for detail make this an excellent introduction to a study of Audubon Park.  

Aubudon: Life and Art in the American Wilderness
Shirley Streshinsky, Villard Books, 1993: New York
Of the dozen-plus Audubon biographies I have read, this is my favorite.  Building on Herrick's ground-breaking study from the 1917 (Other Reading, below) Streshinsky adds detail and advances her own theories.  She finely balances Audubon the myth with Audubon the man, allowing her admiration for his great achievement to shine through without blinding her to his foibles.  (Several other Audubon biographies appear in Other Reading, below.)

A Chapter of History and Natural History in Old New York
George Bird Grinnell
Natural History: The Journal of the American Museum, Jan-Feb 1920, Volume XX, No 1, pp. 23-27
This article about birds in northern Manhattan during the 1850s and 1860s is available from Google Books and  includes a few details about Audubon Park that do not occur in Grinnell's other writing (such as a description of the fence surrounding Trinity Cemetery).  The last page of the article includes a woodcut of Audubon's home.  

In Memoriam: George Bird Grinnell
Albert Kenrick Fisher, The Auk, v. 56, no. 1, January, 1939: NY
Fischer, a friend of George Bird Grinnell, wrote this Memoriam several months after Grinnell's death.  The biographical information suggests that Fischer either had access to Grinnell's Memories (see Passing of the Great West, below) or had spoken with him in detail about his early life in Audubon Park.  The sequence of events and wording suggest the former.  Of particular interest to Audubon Park scholars is a quote from one of Grinnell's later letters: "I was pulled up by the roots from Audubon Park and transplanted at East 15th Street.  The change would have been misery if I had allowed myself to think about and lament it.  I did not think about it and did not regret."  The article is available online.

Last Stand: George Bird Grinnell, the Battle to Save the Buffalo, and the Birth of the New West
Michael Punke: Smithsonian Books/Collins, 2007: NY
Although Michael Punke's book focuses more on George Bird Grinnell the budding "father of conservation," he devotes the beginning of it to Grinnell's early years in Audubon Park and his relationship with Lucy Audubon.  Like Reiger (Passing of the Great West), Punke relies heavily on Grinnell's unpublished Memories.  One of Punke's major themes, that the two "moral poles in the world of George Bird Grinnell" were Lucy Audubon and Cornelius Vanderbilt (the one his teacher, the other his father's powerful business associate) has a direct relationship to Grinnell's seemingly ambiguous response to the disappearance of Audubon Park.  Grinnell the naturalist would have preferred to remain at The Hemlocks, the Grinnell mansion in Audubon Park, for the duration of his life.  The practical Grinnell knew that was impossible.  The city was encroaching on the east and the west and disposition of the family holdings had already taken the Grinnell siblings to court. Bowing to the inevitable, he left, though, emotionally, part of him remained.  Signicantly, all of Grinnell's writings about Audubon Park date from the years after he left and it disappeared beneath the multi-story apartment buildings that stand there today.

Passing of the Great West (The): Selected Writings of George Bird Grinnell
John Reiger, Winchester Press, 1972: NY
John Reiger deserves credit both for saving Grinnell's papers (some of them from a trashcan!) and for writing the most extensive Grinnell biography until the recently published Last Stand.  Most of the biographical work that appeared between the two books relied heavily on Reiger's reading and reporting of Grinnell's unpublished Memories.  Around 1915, Grinnell began writing a work he entitled Memories, which was apparently intended for his neices and nephews.  Beginning with his earliest Memories, before his family moved to Audubon Park, he worked his way, chronologically, to 1883 and then, for reasons no one understands, stopped writing, literally in mid-sentence.  Reiger uses this work (which at the time was in the possession of the Audubon Society in Connecticutt, where Reiger was director) as the basis ofThe Passing of the Great West and often quotes long passages verbatim.  This wonderful book adds layers of detail to Grinnell's other writings about Audubon Park. The book is out of print, but available from online sellers such as American Book Exchange (

Recollections of Audubon Park 
George Bird Grinnell, The Auk, v. 37, no. 3, 1920: NY
This 10-page article appeared in the July edition of The Auk in 1920, when Grinnell was sixty-one.  It is equal parts memoir and tribute to Lucy (Grandma) Audubon, who was Grinnell's first teacher and who instilled in him both a love of birds and the value of self-discipline and denial.  The article, which is now available online, includes many details about Audubon Park that do not appear Grinnell's booklet Audubon Park.  

Washington Heights Manhattan, Its Eventful Past
Bolton, Reginald Pelham, Dykman Instit.: 1924
Reginal Pelham Bolton's obituary described him as "the Number 1 citizen of Washington Heights."  Bolton, who apparently was as gregarious and publicity-seeking as George Bird Grinnell was modest and retiring, had eclectic interests.  By training, he was an engineer and by occupation, he was president and chairman of the Electric Meter Corporation.  He was also a vocal community advocate and served as treasurer and later honorary President of the Washington Heights Taxpayers Association.  Among his books were several on Manhattan's Indians.  

Washington Heights Manhattan, Its Eventful Past includes long passages about Audubon Park, especially information about the years when it was owned by Dutch, and then English settlers.  Bolton's voice often intrudes; his first-person interjections rob the book of some of its credibility.  One of the most entertaining passages is his condescending description of Richard Carman, who, whatever his foibles, was a very successful businessman.  Oddly, though Bolton and Grinnell shared many interests and lived within a stone's throw of each other, neither mentions the other in any of his writings.  

New York Times
Its importance as a primary source earns the New York Times first mention, out of order alphabetically.  The online version of the New York Times includes archives that stretch back to the first issue in 1851.  A rigorous search engine brings up even the slightest mention of a place, person, or event.  From the New York Times alone, a researcher could construct a very accurate history of Audubon Park.  Fortunately, that is not necessary, as other periodicals, some with a different viewpoint, exist.  However, because of the excellent search engine, the New York Times is the ideal starting point; using  information gleaned there, you can find comparable information in other sources, saving uqite a bit of time.  Abstracts are free.  Full articles are available for a fee, with various plans available.  The best deal for anyone who expects to use the engine often is a yearly subsciption includes 100 articles a month.

Atlantic Monthly Magazine
Like the New York Times, the Atlantic Monthly has a search engine.  All archive articles are available for a fee.  Search for items such as "Audubon Park," "Riverside Drive," "Washington Heights," and "George Bird Grinnell" (who published several stories in the magazine.)

Brooklyn Daily Eagle (online) 1841 - 1902
The Brooklyn Daiy Eagle was a Democratic newspaper and much less conservative than the New York Times in the late 1800s.  The Brooklyn Daily Eagle offers a different assessment of George Blake Grinnell than that found in the New York Times.  Use the online search engine to find numerous articles about Audubon Park, Riverside Drive, the Grinnell family, and more.  

Harper's Monthly Magazine
Harper's Monthly also has a search engine.  All archive articles are available for a fee.  Search for items such as "Audubon Park," "Riverside Drive," "Washington Heights," and "George Bird Grinnell" (who published several stories in the magazine.)

New York Daily News
Searching the Daily News is easiest if you know what you're looking for and when it happened.  Using the New York Times search engine to narrow your search will make your research faster and easier.

New York Herald
Like the Daily News, searching the New York Herald is easiest if you know what you're looking for and when it happened.  Using the New York Times search engine to narrow your search will make your research faster and easier.

Washington Post
The Washington Post online version has a search engine.  Although it does not approach The New York Times in quantity of articles, it does have many articles applicable to Audubon Park and Washington Heights.

Other Reading
Alone Together: A History of New York's Early Apartments
Elizabeth Collins Cromley, Cornell University Press, 1990: Cornell University
This superb history of apartment buildings complements Elizabeth Hawes's New York, New York: How the Apartment House Transformed the Life of the City (1869 - 1930).  Both books explain the rise of the apartment house as an acceptable residential option for Manhattanites and both describe some of the hurdles the form had to jump in order to reach that status.  Of particular interest are the apartment buildings that sprang up by the hundreds in the wake of the subway opening in 1904.

Archer Milton Huntington
Beatrice Gilman Proske: Trustees of The Hispanic Society of America, 1963: New York
Architects in Practice, New York City, 1840-1900
Dennis Steadman Francis; Committee for the Preservation of Architectural Records,1979: New York

Architects in Practice, New York City, 1900-1940
James Ward, J&D Associates, 1989: Union, NJ

Audubon Ark (The): A History of the National Audubon Society
Frank Graham, Jr., Alfred A. Knopf, 1990: New York

Audubon: A Biography 
John Chancellor, The Viking Press, 1978: New York

Audubon the Naturalist (Second Edition)
Francis Hobart Herrick, PhD, ScD, D Appleton-Century Company, 1938: New York and London
Herrick's ground-breaking biography of John James Audubon first appeared in 1917 and dispelled much of the myth that Audubon had invented for himself and that his wife and granddaughters, especially M.E. (Eliza) Audubon, perpetuated.  His diligent search of records in France and Haiti revealed Audubon's true birth date, suggested the identity of his mother, and dispelled such notions that he had studied painting with David, was born in Louisiana, and that Audbuon was actually the Dauphin of France.  Later research answered additional questions, but it was Herrick who first had the tenacity and courage to challenge the well-entrenched Audubon myth.

His book appeared at a very important moment in the history of Audubon Park.  The first group of apartment buildings had appeared on the eastern side of the portion of Riverside Drive that ran through Audubon Park, and plans were already underway to construct additional buildings on the western side, which would (and eventually did) threaten the survival of Audubon's last home.  Herrick accompanied George Bird Grinnell on a tour of what remained of Audubon Park and then made an eloquent plea in his book for individuals and organizations to step forward an save the house.  Although Herrick's plea roused enthusiasm, the various groups and individuals were never able to unit behind one plan and eventually, the house fell prey to rot and decay.

Biographical Dictionary of American Architects
Henry Withey, Omnigraphics, 1956: Detroit, MI

J. B. Kerfort, Houghton Miffline Co.: 1911. Boston

Chapel of the Intercession
Landmarks Preservation Commission, 1966

Churchyards of Trininty Parish
Corporation of Trininty Church, 1955: New York

Frankfurt on the Hudson
Stephen M. Lowenstein, Wayne State University Press, 1989: Detroit, MI

Gilded City: Scandal and Sensation in Turn-of-the-Century New York
M.H. Dunlop, William Morrow, 2000: New York
Each of the chaptersin this book is presented as a set piece. Several themes bind them, but development from beginning to end of the book is not strong.  Even so, for the tenacious reader, this book offers some insight into New York City and the Gilded Age that can add depth to a study of Audubon Park.

Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898
Edwin G. Burrows & Mike Wallace, Oxford University Press, 1999: New York

Greatest Street in the World (The): Broadway
Stephen Jenkins, G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1911: New York
Another of the many books now available online from Google Books, this one has only a brief mention of Audubon Park and Trinity Cemetery, but is notable because of the author's personal observations in 1911, after the construction of the apartment buildings on the upper side of Riverside Drive, but before the demolition of the houses on the lower side.  The author also offers a few recollections of visits he made to the area decades prior to his writing.  

Grinnell Family Records
Grinnell Family Association Website 
Most of the Grinnell family website is restricted to members; however, the secretary of the organization was very accomodating when I requested information and sent me a detailed listing of the information available for the Grinnell's of Audubon Park.

Grinnell's Glacier: George Bird Grinnell and Glacier National Park
Gerald A. Diettert, Mountain Press Publishing Company.1992: Missoula, MT
Diettert's book focuses on Grinnell's discovery and championing of Glacier National Park.  Details of Grinnell's early life are drawn from the same sources as Rieger's and Punke's books (see Essential Reading, above), but the scope does not permit or require the same depth.  What this book does add to a study of Audubon Park is another example of Grinnell's tenacity when he believes in a cause.  

Harlem, Its Origin and Early Annals
James Riker, 1881: New York

Harlem Lost and Found
Michael Henry Adams  and Paul Rocheleau, Monacelli Press, 2002; New York
Although Audubon Park has never been part of Harlem, Adams includes it in his book, along with some wonderful illustrations.  An early picture of the Hispanic Society depicts Audubon Park at a very interesting period in its history, as the early, rugged topography was giving way to graded streets and the frame mansions yielding to the magnificent brick and stone structures that exist today.

History of the New Netherlands
William Dunlap

Homes of American Authors, comprising Anecdotical, Personal, and Descriptive Sketches, by Various Writers
G. P. Putnam and Co., New York: 1853
The first home is Audubon's described in a lenghty sketch by parke Godwin.  Accompanied by a superb woodcut, this sketch includes Audubon's famous soliloquy on "that crazy city...amid those hot bricks and pestilent vaopors."  Probably unwittingly, this sketch, more than any other writing, helped create the connection between the Audbuon myth and Audubon Park.

Hudson from the Wilderness to the Sea (The)
Benson L. Lossing, H. B. Nims & Co., 1866: Troy
Lossing's journey down the Hudson includes descriptions and illustrations of Trinity Cemetery and Audubon Park, the latter relying heavily on The Homes of American Authors. He does, however, pinpoint the original location of Audubon's crypt in Trinity Cemetery, before it was moved to its present location behind the Church of the Intercession.

In Old New York
Thomas Janvier, St. Martins Press, 2000: New York

Inside the Victorian Home
Judith Flanders, W. W. Norton, 2003: New York

John James Audubon: A Biography
Alice Ford, Abbeville Press, 1988: New York

King's Handbook of New York City: 1892
Moses King, Barnes and Noble, 2001: New York

Life With Father, Life With Mother, God and My Father
Clarence Day, Alfred A Knopf, 1947: New York

Living it Up: A Guide to the Named Apartment Houses of New York
Thomas E. Norton and Jerry E. Patterson, Atheneum, 1984: New York

Lost New York (Expanded and Updated)
Nathan Silver, Houghton Miffline Company, 2000: Boston/New York

Manhattan in Maps 1527 - 1995
Paul e. Cohen and Robert T. Augustyn, Rizzoli, 1997: New York

Manhattan Moves Uptown
Charles Lockwood, Barnes and Noble, 1995: New York

Maps of Farms, Commonly Called The Blue Book, 1815
Otto Sackersdorff, City Surveyor, 1868: New York

Mr. Audubon's Lucy
Lucy Kennedy, Crown Publishers, 1957: New York

New York 1880: Architecture and Urbanism in the Gilded Age
Robert A. M. Stern, Thomas Mellins, and David Fishman, The Monacelli Press, 1999: New York

New York 1900
Stern, Gilmartin, Massengale, Rizzoli, 1983: New York

New York and its Institutions 1609-1872
J.F. Richmond, E.B. Treat, 1872: New York
Published in 1872, Richmond's book is a treasure trove of institutions in Manhattan, including several in the vicinity of Audbuon Park: Trinity Cemetery, New York Institution for the Deaf and Dumb, The Colored Orphan Asylum, as well as entries for Broadway (then known as the Boulevard), a history of Manhattan's earliest years, and essays on topics such as "Causes of Business Failure" and "Classes of Rich Men."  The book has scores of excellent engravings.

New York City Department of Records and Information Services Municipal Archives (letter)
Kenneth R. Cobb, Director, 1998: New York City

New York City Directory, Longworth
New York City Directory, Trow
New York City DirectoryDoggett
The various New York City Directories were the predecessors and equivalent to phone books and included alphabetical listings of most middle and upper class residents of Manhattan.  These volumes are excellent companions to census reports, and fill the gaps in the years between national and New York City censuses.  

New York City Yesterday & Today: 30 Timeless Walking Adventures
Judith H. Browning, Corsair Publications, 1990, Conn.

New York Chronology (The)
James Trager, HarperResource, 2003: New York

New York, New York: How the Apartment House Transformed the Life of the City (1869 - 1930)
Elizabeth Hawes, Henry Holt and Company, 1993: New York
This superb history of apartment buildings complements Elizabeth Collins Cromley's Alone Together: A History of New York's Early Apartments.  Both books explain the rise of the apartment house as an acceptable residential option for Manhattanites and both describe some of the hurdles the form had to jump in order to reach that status.  Of particular interest are the apartment buildings that sprang up by the hundreds in the wake of the subway opening in 1904.

New York Old and New: Volume 2
Rufus Rockwell Wilson, J. B. Lippincott Company, 1902: Philadelphia & London
Wilson spends but a few paragraphs describing Audubon's home, but he may take credit for coining the descriptive (and desceptive) phrase "almost as remote from the city as a lodge in the Catskills," which reappeared time and again in subsequent writings.  Available from Google Books.

New York Streetscapes: Tales of Manhattan's Significant Buildings and Landmarks
Christopher Gray (researched by Suzanne Braley) Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2003: New York
Christopher Gray is an inspiration to all local historians.  His books and New York Times column (Streetscapes) constantly remind us that every structure has a history.  New York Streetscapes does not include any buildings in Audubon Park, but does have articles on two structures that played a role in moving Manhattan uptown to Washington Heights: the 155th Street Viaduct and the 168th Street IRT Station.

On Broadway
David W. Dunlap, Rizzoli, 1990: New York
David Dunlap's On Broadway includes a description of virtually every building that faces Broadway, along with information about architects, constructiondate, and other facts.  Several Audubon Park buildings face Broadway and are included.

Theodore Roosevelt and Six Friends of the Indian
William T. Hagan, University of Oklahoma Press, 1997: Norman and London
One of the "six friends" was George Bird Grinnell.  Although this interesting book has no substantial description of Audubon Park, it does illustrate Grinnell's political connections and tenacity when he found a cause in which he fervently believed.

Threescore: The Autobiography of Sarah N. Cleghorn
Sarah Norcliffe Cleghorn: Ayer Publishing, 1980: 
Sarah Cleghorn was a cousin of the Audubon's through Georgianna Mallory, Victor Audubon's second wife.  As a child, she visited Eliza (M.E.), Lucy, and Annie Audubon when they still lived in the vicinity of Audubon Park, just below Trinity Cemetery. Parts of this book are available at Google Books.

Valentine's Manual of Old New York: Number 6, New Series 1922
Brown, Henry Collins, ed., Chauncy Holt Company, 1921: New York
Valentine's Manual of Old New York: Number 7, New Series 1923
Brown, Henry Collins, ed., Valentine's Manual, Inc., 1922: New York

Washington Heights Presbyterian Church (The): Sermon preached July 1876
Rev. Charles A. Stoddard, D.D., The NY Institution fo the Dear and Dumb, 1877: New York
This rare booklet is difficult to find, but provides an interesting history of the early years of the Washington Heights Presbyterian Church, which is still an active congregation today.  Several Audubon Park residents helped form the church and served as deacons.  William A. Wheelock, whose property abutted Audubon Park on the north, was a major benefactor of the church, who donated a large pipe organ, as well as funds to enlarge the pulpit to accomodate it.
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