Christmas Sleighing in Harlem

Sleigh riding on Harlem River Drive, under the Highbridge, headed south.

The text is, as follows:

The New York Speedway, which was built and is maintained exclusively for the trotting horse, is bordered by the Harlem River on one side and a major bluff on the other, which shuts out the wind. It could hardly be improved upon as to elevation and has served as a pattern for others in different parts of the country. Only light vehicles drawn by one or two horses are allowed on it. The sale and rise of high-class trotting horses have increased immensely since its construction in 1895, and what was at first devised as an improvement favouring only a few has proved to be of great value to a large part of the community.

Horses on Harlem River Drive

Two stereoscopic views looking northward on Harlem Speedway (Harlem River Drive) from around 181st Street.

The bottom image captures the finale to a race (note the man lying on the rockface to the left).

The top image shows just how wide the Speadway was.

In both images, note the domed building on a bluff, in the Bronx. This is now part of Bronx Community College, but at the time was part of NYU when NYU was thinking about moving out of the crowded Washington Square area, for more space and wealthier environs in The Bronx (just as Columbia moved uptown to the Upper West Side). The Bronx Community College building features a rotunda with sculptures of “Great Americans” and is open to the public

Halloween Is Coming!

Join Harlem Mothers and Fathers SAVE (Stop Another Violent End) celebrate Halloween:

Apple Blossom Time

Spring, of course, means blossoms and in Harlem today the most common blossom is from the Callery Pear.

Over a 100 years ago, a few apple orchards still remained in Harlem. This 1893 photo of apple trees in Harlem by Robert Bracklow, shows an orchard of mature trees in blossom. Sadly, but understandably, it’s in in black and white:

To see zoom in on the detail, see:

Harlem River Drive

A great, brief history of the rise and fall of the Harlem Speedway, now known as Harlem River Drive.

Crime Alert

On Wednesday, Captain Henning of the 25th Precinct went over the CompStat data and noted that there is an significant increase in property theft (from homes, cars, and work sites) between 125th and 135th streets. Please be extra vigilant and watch belongings, keep tempting items and packages out of sight.

For those car owners, it was also jaw-dropping to hear that he (the commanding officer) personally arrested a man this past month engaged in a car break-in. This individual had an arrest record of OVER 100 car break-ins. He was not held.


Untapped New York collected some wonderful images of the Harlem River Drive. Note in the first two images, the High Bridge (the bridge which brings Croton water into NYC) consists solely of masonry arches (your can see the Croton High Bridge tower on the right-hand side, above a white building):

Construction of the Harlem River Speedway began in 1894 with the carving of the bluffs overlooking the river. After its opening in 1896, it quickly became a tourist attraction where people could watch horse races on the track as well as boat races on the river. The track was as wide as one-hundred feet in some areas, allowing for several carriages to compete at once. The natural beauty of the surrounding scenery attracted spectators from all social classes. Thousands from around the country visited to watch planned parades and competitions, and rich sportsmen were satisfied with their exclusive speedway, using it heavily to train and display their horses. 

To read more about the history of the Harlem River Drive, see:

Harlem River Drive

One of my favorite songs of all time, Harlem River Drive, can be found on Soundcloud as a repeatedly covered and remixed tune:

The Library of Congress has a great short of horse racing on Harlem River Drive. Note the Aquaduct Bridge with its full complement of masonry arches before the center arches were replaced with a steel span to permit boat traffic:

Note the people on the Aqueduct Bridge, taking the parade of wealthy families and their horses.

To see the full 1903 film: