This Nondescript NYC Mechanic's Shop Has an Unbelievable Past Life

Illustration for article titled This Nondescript NYC Mechanic's Shop Has an Unbelievable Past Life

In New York City, buildings are changing hands all the time—and nothing really lasts forever. The legendary music venue CBGB? Well, it's now a John Varvatos store. And this grimy mechanic's shop at the northern end of Manhattan? It was once the entryway to a beautiful 19th century estate.

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Illustration for article titled This Nondescript NYC Mechanic's Shop Has an Unbelievable Past Life

Now you might almost miss the graffiti-covered archway. But upon closer inspection, it doesn't quite fit in with the industrial setting at Broadway and 215th Street. Fortunately movie location scout and urban explorer ScoutingNY noticed it. Built in 1855, the archway was once the entry to the grand estate built by John Seaman, the son of the Dr. Valentine Seaman, who introduced the smallpox vaccine to the U.S. Both the house and the arch were built using marble quarried nearby. The home is long gone, but it once sat on 26 acres that included a chapel, greenhouse, stables, grape arbors, and incredible views of the Hudson and Harlem Rivers.

Illustration for article titled This Nondescript NYC Mechanic's Shop Has an Unbelievable Past Life

Seaman left the estate to his nephew, Lawrence Drake, and it went downhill from there. In 1912, other buildings were built around the arch and in '38, the estate was sold to developers. And the archway—which has housed Jack Gallo Autoparts since 1960—is all that remains. We're so glad ScoutingNY spotted it. [ScoutingNY, New York Times]

Illustration for article titled This Nondescript NYC Mechanic's Shop Has an Unbelievable Past Life
Illustration for article titled This Nondescript NYC Mechanic's Shop Has an Unbelievable Past Life
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DISCUSSION

seattleted
Deadspin in Carbonite

I look forward to one day having a time option on google streets. We can watch streets through time. An underground pedestrian tunnel I take in Seattle everyday has quite a few images from the skid row era and some of the buildings still exist. I lose myself in some of the images where the "new" buildings are under construction with horses pulling the materials.