"Four miles north of NYC's City Hall."
"Fifteen blocks south of my apartment on E. 76th Street."
"Just north of the 61st Street Bed, Bath and Beyond."
These could easily be statements I'd use to describe the location of Dangerfield's Comedy Club but never (b4) did I know that these directions also lead to the door of a lavish country (yes, country!) escape.
Today, instead of passing by the Mount Vernon Hotel like I've done on hundreds of other trips to Bed, Bath and Beyond, I stopped in for my first visit and I was very pleasantly surprised. Although I've never been one to really enjoy early American history museums, this one fascinated me because it gave me a glimpse of what Manhattan looked and felt like in the 1820's.
Here are just a few things I never new B4 but learned on my visit:
- In the 1820's NYC ended at 14th Street and the Upper East Side was considered a luxurious country escape.
- The total population of NYC in 1820 (123,704) is dwarfed by the size of just the Upper East Side today (237,563).
- The Mount Vernon Hotel was built in 1799 and used ss the carriage house for a 23-acre estate owned by President John Adam's son-in-law.
- In 1826, the carriage house was converted into the Mount Vernon Hotel - a country resort equivalent to today's most posh day spas or Hampton retreats.
- A journey to the Hotel meant a stagecoach ride on the hilly Old Post Road that ran between today's 2nd and 3rd Avenues, or a steamboat ride up the East River passed an ominous prison on Blackwell's Island (which is today Roosevelt Island).
If you find yourself on the Upper East Side, this museum is definitely worth visiting - especially this week for their candlelight tours that feature live holiday music, warm cider and eggnog. Go to http://www.mvhm.org/ for details. Tour reservations are only required for the popular candlelight tours. Otherwise, the tour starts whenever you get there (as long as it's before the 3:15pm closing time.
A separate but related Never B4 for today is that this is the first time I've posted a Never B4 story from my cell phone instead of my computer. Spell check is not possible so please forgive me if I didn't catch all the typos. Including pics and hot links in the text is definitely not as easy from the phone so I will add those tomorrow when I can access my computer again. I'll also be announcing my new mascot tomorrow too. Until then, if you have a comment on this post or if you'd like to share a NYC history story or a Never B4 experience of your own, I'd love to hear from you so please add a comment.
***This post was updated on Dec8th to correct typos and include links and pics.