THE CLARICE, Hell’s Kitchen

by Kevin Walsh

The Queen Anne apartment building at the southwest corner of 9th Avenue and West 50th has a few years on the odometer — it was constructed by Ellsworth Striker in 1885. But it stands on property that goes back in colonial history for nearly two centuries before that.

In 1667 a settler named John Hopper acquired a vast swath in what is now called Hell’s Kitchen, likely for the barrel fires that were set by the Irish dockworkers who resided in the area in the 19th Century. Hopper’s spread occupied what is now 6th Avenue to the Hudson River between 48th an 55th Streets. Hopper built a number of houses on the property for himself and his grown sons, and the family burying ground stood at where 9th avenue and West 50th Street would be surveyed and laid out, next to John Hopper Junior’s mansion that was constructed in 1752.

The Striker and Hopper families intermarried and Ellsworth Striker inherited the property in the 1880s and set about developing it, as Hell’s Kitchen was bustling. The new elevated train had arrived in the 1870s and the 50th Street station was known as the Graveyard Station because of the old cemetery. Striker exhumed the remains and reburied them in Woodlawn Cemetery, and razed the old Hopper mansion, building the Clarice (the selection of the name is unclear) in 1885. The building, now with a pizzeria on the ground floor, still occupies the corner today.

Another oddment is the retention of the Department of Transportation of a rusted lamppost next to the newer stoplight that supports a pair of streetlamps. It still carries street signs and one-way directional signs. The straight mast at the top once supported a set of GE Whiteway lamps, a set of 6 separate mercury lamps under one glass reflector cover.

More on the Clarice in Daytonian in Manhattan.

Check out the ForgottenBook, take a look at the gift shop, and as always, “comment…as you see fit.”


1 comment

Jon Baker July 23, 2019 - 8:50 am

At a guess, the building was named Clarice after Striker’s firstborn daughter, Maria Clarice, born 1880.


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