THE WORLD OF CARS IN NEW YORK CITY

Really interesting post over at Scouting New York: a Manhattan mechanic’s shop that was once the epic marble arch entrance to a grand mansion on a hill. Jeez. Only in New York…

Turns out, the palatial Seaman-Drake estate – once the wooded two-dozen acres belonging to the son of the guy responsible for Americans receiving the small pox vaccine – was one of the markers of the northern tip of the island of Manhattan in the mid-19th century. The massive archway was a fitting anchor for the place that, at the time it was built, was quite the carriage ride up Broadway from the Tammany Hall version of New York City that most of us imagine Manhattan was like back then.

But, by 1938, the place was sold and a row of shops had sprung up around the arch, lining Broadway. For whatever reason, the arch was never torn down, but the small businesses just sort of adapted to it and for the last 50+ years, it’s been the belly of an auto body shop. Just weird.

The Scout, as always, does a great job of telling the story and we’re definitely gonna have to go see this place the next time we’re in town. It’s amazing to see the old photos of the arch and what it looks like today, but at least its still intact. Tagged and greasy, but still in one piece. A body shop made out of a 19th century stone arch: New York City has always had a strange, strained relationship with car culture and this body shop up on Broadway is a great example of how the two collide in some strange ways.

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