How Audubon Park Disrupted Manhattan’s Grid

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Audubon Park from NW-Feb 1899The distinctive footprint that disrupts Manhattan’s grid west of Broadway between 155th and 158th Streets – the Audubon Park Historic District – did not come about by accident or from the demands of local topography. It unfolded from careful planning and alliances among like-minded property owners, whose social and political connections ensured that when progress swept up Manhattan’s west side, they would benefit.

As a result, Riverside Drive splits at 155th Street where its 1911 branch snakes across the grid to 158th Street while its 1928 branch pushes straight up the river. At the same time, Edward M. Morgan Place – a one-block remnant of the earlier Boulevard Lafayette – slices across Audubon Park’s eastern side, severing a corner from what was once a geographically unified suburban enclave.

For the story of how this unusual footprint evolved, join Audubon Park historian Matthew Spady for a series of two illustrated talks (Tuesdays, April 14 and 21 at 7:30 p.m.) and a guided walk through the Audubon Park Historic District (Sunday, April 26 at 2:00 p.m.).

The talks will take place in the gallery space at 800 Riverside Drive in Manhattan. The walk, which will take place on John James Audubon’s 230th birthday, will begin at the Audubon monument, 155th Street, east of Broadway. All three events are open to the public free of charge.

No reservations are needed for the talks, but space is limited for the guided walk, so please reserve a spot by emailing

At the conclusion of the walk on Sunday, April 26, participants are invited to join the Riverside Oval Association’s annual John James Audubon birthday party.

Sharing an extensive collection of vintage photographs, prints, and maps, Spady will begin the series with a look at the two families who shaped Audubon Park’s history and the historic district’s unusual footprint: the Audubons, who transformed their farm Minnie’s Land into a railroad suburb, and the Grinnells, whose pragmatism reimagined that suburb as a twentieth century cityscape. With these two families as point of reference, he’ll then focus the first talk on the subway’s effect on urbanization north of 155th Street and the second on how Riverside Drive defines the cityscape between 155th and 158th Streets. Bringing these themes together, the Sunday afternoon walk will be an on-site exploration of how past and present meet in the Audubon Park Historic District’s footprint

Illustrated Talks

Tuesdays, April 14 and 21, 2015 at 7:30 p.m.

The Grinnell, 800 Riverside Drive (Gallery Space) at 158th Street, New York, NY
Open to the Public Free of Charge

Guided Walk: Sunday, April 26, 2015 at 2:00 p.m.

Beginning at the Audubon Monument, 155th Street East of Broadway, New York, NY

Open to the Public Free of Charge. Space is limited. To reserve a spot, please email



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