Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Astor Row: All you need is a wicker rocking chair and a glass of lemonade.

Where can you find a house with a front porch in Manhattan?


There are 28 of them on the south side of 130th Street, between Fifth Avenue and Malcolm X Boulevard, which is known as Astor Row.

A few years back, my then-partner and I had a client who was looking for a house in that neighborhood. 

We were exploring the area when we came upon a row of beautiful 19th century brick townhouses with wooden front porches painted green.  
New York Landmarks Conservancy Photo
Many had become dilapidated over the years, but they hadn’t lost their charm.

Not only were there front porches, but they looked out over front yards, which must have once been gardens, and could be again.

I never forgot those houses.  

I was reminded of them today, when I saw an article in titled "A Harlem street with a 'quiet southern town vibe' shines again."

The article says that the lot on which the houses were built was originally bought at auction by John Jacob Astor in 1844.

During the next 150 years or so, the houses were built, changed hands several times, and eventually fell into disrepair. 

In the 1990s, Astor's great granddaughter-in-law Brooke Astor was on a driving tour of Harlem when she saw them. 

"What is this?" Mrs. Astor inquired.  Funny she should ask.

She was appalled by the houses' condition, particularly that of the porches, which in some cases had been removed. 

Mrs. Astor was in a position to do something about this.

“After a conversation with the then-President of the Conservancy, Susan Henshaw Jones, Mrs. Astor pledged the first of two Astor Foundation grants that eventually totaled $1.7 million to jump-start the restoration of homes on the row,” Brick Underground says. 

“Eventually, $3 million was raised to do the work on the porches, as well as to repair toppling chimneys, damaged roofs, and cast-iron fences, and repoint and clean the facades.”

Times have changed in Harlem, especially on this newly restored row. Today, one of those houses is on the market for $4,300,000. 

Here’s the link to the article:

Call me at 917-991-9549 or e-mail  I'll be happy to visit your apartment, loft, or townhouse and give you a detailed broker's opinion of what it could fetch today, supported with figures and comparable sales.  Of course, there's no cost or obligation involved. 

Even if you plan to stay in your home forever, it's always good to know what it's worth.

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