Sylvan Terrace is located in the uptown NYC neighborhood of Washington Heights. It’s hidden entrance makes it one of the city’s best-kept secrets. A stroll through this street will take you back into time. The row houses are unbelievably well-preserved and stand today as a unique slice of American history and architecture. Visit this NYC Landmark today and discover what makes Sylvan Terrace so special!
Sylvan Terrace is a one-of-a-kind historic street that was built in 1882. The street is home to twenty 19th century wooden row houses. These houses were built a few years later; from 1890 to 1902. They were designed by James E. Ray. He was influenced by the Queen Anne, Romanesque, and Renaissance Revival movements originating from Europe. The Queen Anne style pays tribute to the reemergence of English Baroque architecture that swept England during Queen Anne’s mandate. The street’s design is also reminiscent of the Victorian era.
Sylvan Terrace Interior by I.Sailko_WikiCommons
The entrance to this historic street can be found along E. 120th St. to E. 121st St. The street’s hidden entrance is not visible to the casual passerby. Be on the lookout for the tiny staircase built between a stone wall in order to venture inside. Sylvan Terrace can be referred to as a mew. This is a British term which was coined to describe those single streets that were adjacent to a manor. Mews would typically be made up of a series of carriage houses or rows of stables.
Sylvan Terrace forms part of the bigger Jumel Terrace Historic District. The district has over 50 residential row houses in it and is of great historical significance. It is at a walking distance from the world-renowned Columbia Presbyterian Hospital and other nearby major cultural institutions such as the Morris-Jumel Mansion. George Washington called this mansion his home at the height of the Revolutionary War during the 1700s. The name for Sylvan Terrace comes from the word Silva, which in Latin means forest. The area was intended to function as an alleyway which President Washington could use on his way to the mansion.
Part of Sylvan Terrace’s charm is that it’s like an old postcard come to life. The perfectly lined up carriage houses along the cobblestone street leading up to the lush view of Roger Morris Park in the background create quite the idyllic setting. The street’s ground was built from cobblestone directly imported from Belgium.
Roger Morris Park View by Salim Virji_Flickr
In order to reach the entrance of each house, one has to walk up an 11-step staircase. The number of each house is written in gold italics on each of the main front door’s two glass panels. The original owners of these charming row houses were members of the middle class. Some tenants worked as grocers or feed dealers.
Nowadays, most of the private townhouses are renovated and dispose of modern amenities. However, the apartments still retain much of their old charm from the 1880s. Each apartment is highly coveted and it’s rare treat when one of them goes up for sale. However, once listed on the market, prices tend to hover around the one million mark. Certainly a long way from the street’s humble beginnings! Buyers are interested in Sylvan Terrace for it’s quiet location, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s private entrance is also ideal for those families looking to provide their children with a safe outdoor space.
South Side of Sylvan Terrace by Beyond My Ken_WikiCommons
Several films and TV series have used Sylvan Terrace as the backdrop for many a scene. HBO’s hit show “Boardwalk Empire” and the romantic comedy movie “Kate and Leopold” are just a few of the blockbusters that have had the privilege to film here.
Sylvan Terrace was designated as a NYC Landmark District in 1970. It was also added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.
The following two tabs change content below.
Edgar is a a film fanatic, a food lover, and an Upper West Side enthusiast. After working in PR and marketing in Chicago, he is pursuing his dream of becoming a writer. He loves photography and on his spare time you can find him hiking or biking the great outdoors (while also snapping some pretty awesome Instagram pics!).