Keep looking down — you never know what you might find.


Several years ago FNY did a survey on the various pieces of Avenue A that still exist uptown, now renamed Asser Levy Place, Sutton Place and Sutton Place South, York Avenue and Pleasant Avenue, and pointed out a tangible remnant of that renaming, at Public School 158 on York Avenue between East 77th and 78th Streets.

Well, recently (May 2014) I had no choice but to look down when passing the school again, as the entire facade is hidden behind scaffolds. And I found a true anachronism — a boot scraper that looks as though it’s been there from the time the school opened in the 1910s, even stenciled with the school’s address.

I had thought that including boot scrapers outside buildings had died out after the introduction of macadam and later asphalt pavement, but it’s possible that Avenue A (renamed for WWI hero Sergeant Alvin York in 1918) was still unpaved when the school was built.


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4 Responses to YORK AVENUE DISCOVERY, Upper East Side

  1. andy says:

    Another clue to York Avenue’s earlier life as Avenue A is that its building numbers begin with #1100 and proceed northward from E. 59th Street, roughly the same as the building numbers on parallel First and Second Avenues.

  2. chris says:

    I went to that school for exactly 2 days in 1962 at 5 years old.Dark,noisy and overcrowded.
    Then my Dad yanked me out and put me in parochial school.I didn’t know which was worse.
    And I had always assumed someone had goofed and mistakenly carved “Ave A” on it instead of York Ave.

  3. Ken B. says:

    Indeed, by the 1910’s most throughfares in Manhattan were finished with belgian block, macadam or asphalt. That would have solved the problem of mud coming from dirt roadways, but there were still many, many horses pulling carriages and freight wagons. Those boot scrapers came in very handy to keep manure outside.

  4. Jill-O says:

    Moved from NYC to Portland, OR about 13 years ago. My GF did a remodel of her house a few years ago, and there was an old boot scraper in the cement by the back door. I told her what it was (she didn’t know) and she was amused…and when she remodeled the back of the house, removing that exit, she had the crew leave the boot scraper there. They thought she was nuts, but I knew I was falling in love. ;o)

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