MOYLAN PLACE, Manhattanville

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A sign on the east side of Broadway, just south of West 125th and in front of the General Grant Houses, advertises the presence of a Moylan Place. However, there’s no Moylan Place — just the sign.

 

Where there’s smoke there’s fire, and this 1949 Hagstrom map segment shows that, indeed, there was a Moylan Place between Broadway and West 125th at Morningside Avenue. The NYC Housing Authority website reveals that the Grant Houses were built in 1957, and that’s presumably when Moylan Place was plowed under.

Since 1949, there have been plenty of changes to the Manhattanville map. For one thing, the neighborhood is one of the oldest in the borough and had been thriving since colonial times — and even has its own small street grid that’s independent of the John Randel Jr. 1811 survey that determined the streets surrounding it. One big change has already been made — Manhattan Street has already been changed to West 125th. Later, Lawrence Street would become West 126th. The Grant, Manhattanville and Morningside Houses would eliminate some of the side streets. The Convent of the Sacred Heart would become the South Campus of CCNY.

Moylan Place’s street sign is a puzzlement, since the street was eliminated 55+ years ago. The street does have a connection with the late, great George Carlin, one of the greatest comics and social commentators. In his autobiography Last Words, Carlin writes:

The Moylan [Tavern] was on a street that’s long gone called Moylan Place. Right under the El, off Broadway near 125th Street. They built a project over it.

It was the classic New York saloon. Being on the common border of several neighborhoods, it had great cross-cultural influences. There were blacks and Puerto Ricans of all trades, seminarians from the Jewish Theological Seminary and Union Theological Seminary, Irish construction workers, cops, firefighters, students and professors from the Juilliard School of Music, columbia and Teachers College, retired pensioners and young Irish bucks trying to earn their wings, every type of New Yorker rubbing up against one another and most of the time in a peaceful manner.

Carlin went on to describe how he introduced his future wife, Brenda, to his crowd in the bar and how one of her falsies came loose as she was playing pool.

Who knows, maybe someone at the Department of Transportation is a Carlin fan and kept the sign up to remember him.

There’s another street sign in Manhattan without a street — Temple Street.

5/25/13





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14 Responses to MOYLAN PLACE, Manhattanville

  1. RichB says:

    you may be aware of a site called Historic Aerials (http://www.historicaerials.com/) where you can see satellite photos of Moylan Place and other bygone streets, assuming they were still around circa 1931 and later

  2. Don Rogerson says:

    The name Moylan Place was assigned to this short section of W 126th in 1920 in honor of William Moylan, who was killed in World War I. Moylan’s father, also named William, lived on the street. Why the sign has been maintained I’m not sure, unless it is simply to uphold the memorial honor.

  3. Edward says:

    Is it possible that some of the buildings in the General Grant projects have Moylan Place addresses even though the street itself is gone? I think that’s been done in other projects.

    • Mark Wilner says:

      I recently retired from NYCHA and am pretty sure that the project does not have a Moylan Place address.

  4. Tal Barzilai says:

    I never knew there could be streets signs to show remnants of what streets used to be there rather than an actual street or possible gated alley like some are in the city.

  5. Hart says:

    So, if Lawrence became W. 126th, does that mean 126th intersects with 127th and 129th? Would love see to see photos of that confusing situation.

  6. Ryan says:

    On the other hand, the U-turn on Broadway still exists- along the alignment of Moylan Place.

    Same thing happened to Florence Place in Lower Manhattan (until the street sign was removed…)

  7. Joe Brennan says:

    What stole my attention on that Hagstrom map– besides the weird color transformation in the scan– is the bizarre underground ramp from the highway to Riverside Drive just north of Grant’s Tomb. It never existed, of course, and the rock blasting it would require must have knocked it out of consideration the day after it was proposed. Besides it would disturb the grave of the Amiable Child.

  8. Jerome says:

    As a child I watched out of my window on Broadway as constuction/deconstuction crains with large metal balls would swing and take down the old apartments on Moylan Place. My now deceased aunt lived on Moylan Place. I remember that on my way to and from my school, PS125, i would pass by these crains and the large iron balls that rested on the ground. I lived just above The Moylan Tavern, and today the place is a Mexican restaurant. Both my father, brother, and I drank beer at the tavern.

  9. Kiwiwriter says:

    Just rode over the sign on the Transit Museum’s antique train tour up to The Bronx last week.

    The sign’s still there.

    The train ride was terrific, too.

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