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New York, New York

Sylvan Terrace

A discreet little stairway on St. Nicholas Avenue leads to a quaint and unexpected cobblestone street of 19th century wooden rowhouses. 

Now a residential street and popular film set location, Sylvan Terrace was originally the carriage drive of the 18th century Morris-Jumel Mansion estate. When the estate’s property was divided and sold off in the 1800s, 20 wooden houses designed by Gilbert R. Robinson, Jr. were built along the drive in 1882 and rented to laborers and working class civil servants.

After World War II, aluminum and asphalt became an exterior home decorating fad, and the vintage façades of the rowhouses were covered in shiny gray metal. By the 1960s, the houses were in shambles, the overhangs were removed, the street was paved over, and many of the detail-oriented charms of the place were seemingly gone forever. 

In 1970, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission designated Sylvan Terrace and the surrounding neighborhood as a historic district and the houses were renovated as part of a federal community development funding program. Unsatisfied with the work and upkeep, Sylvan Terrace residents took home improvement into their own hands.

The houses are now painted in similar shades of yellow, with green shutters and brown windowsills, to preserve uniformity. The doorways vary in height, giving the terrace a quirky look. Remnants of the aluminum siding can still be seen if you peek into the backyards.

 

Know Before You Go

Sylvan Terrace is a easy and quick side-visit when touring the Morris-Jumel Mansion.