Astor Row: Significant Architecture, Significant Story

By: Dylan Rodgers

Anyone interested in old architecture would be like a kid in a candy store on Astor Row.  Built in the early 1880s by William Astor, a supporter of the abolition of slavery and benefactor that equipped an entire Union Army regiment, Astor Row was one of the first developments in Harlem.

West 130th Street showcases 28 red-brick houses attached in pairs, each 20 ft. wide on 25 ft. lots that gracing the interior rooms with natural lighting.  They are set back from the street with front yards, a rarity in NYC.  Most of the houses come intact with wooden porches that were restored in the 1990s from grants and community support.  Harlem's restoration had begun at Astor Row and spiraled out, continuing even today.  Starting there highlights Astor Row's significance within the community.

Around the corner from Astor Row stands the row house of Philip A. Payton Jr., the infamous black realtor who dispelled Harlem's white's only policy and opened it up to African Americans.

Astor Row is architecturally significant in Harlem not only in sustained, unusual design, but in the history of its builders and tenants.  If you find yourself around West 130th Street between Broadway and Riverside Drive, do yourself a favor and check it out.  There's history in every brick.