URRA GREETING CARDS ARE NOW AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE AT:

URRA_CARDS.jpeg

There are 4 cards with envelopes per package.

The card depicts the much loved 1937 photograph taken by Berenice Abbott of 857 Riverside Drive, a house built by a member of the Underground Railroad and the only surviving structure of a little-known abolitionist community in Washington Heights.

built: 1851  |  photographed: 1937 by BERENICE ABBOTT
The New York Public Library Digital Collections

URRA_INVOICE_SISTERS.jpg

Our History Matters.

The Abolitionist House at 857 Riverside Drive is in imminent danger of being demolished.

Please help preserve it as an educational center focused on the Abolitionist movement and the continuing fight for equality and social justice in the United States.

Now, more than ever, we must work together to ensure we understand, teach, and preserve basic rights and freedoms for all.

DONAR POR INTERNET GOLD.jpg
DONATE BY CHECK GOLD.jpg

How It Started:

Sometimes all it takes is a little digging.

Upper Riverside Residents Alliance & 
The Harris/Newhouse Home

857 From across RSD.jpg

A small group of Washington Heights neighbors learned that lesson in August 2020, when we formed the Upper Riverside Residents Alliance, unified by our concern for a small wood-frame house at 857 Riverside Drive, and the news that it was about to be bulldozed.

​A developer who had purchased the house had applied for a demolition permit and won preliminary approval to replace this two-story, single-family home with a 13-story apartment tower—more than twice as high as any building nearby—jammed with 46 mini condominium units.

 

A little digging revealed that one of the project’s developers appears regularly on the Public Advocate’s Worst Landlords Watchlist, having racked up an average of nearly 500 open HPD (Department of Housing Preservation and Development) violations in 2019, and 620 in 2020.

We knew from a 1937 photograph by Berenice Abbott that the house, built in the Greek Revival–Italianate style, once boasted a wraparound porch and a cupola, and we hoped it might be restored.

_edited.jpg

Built in 1851, it was part of a little-known colony of abolitionists in northern Manhattan, then an area of woods and farmland.

 

Its first owner, Dennis Harris, was a conductor on the Underground Railroad, and at the center of a well-documented fugitive slave escape when he lived in lower Manhattan.

 

After being suspended by his downtown Methodist church for anti-slavery preaching, the minister and entrepreneur moved his family, his business and his abolitionist fervor uptown.

In Washington Heights, he and his friend John Newhouse, who bought the home from Harris and lived there with his family for decades, established abolitionist churches in the area.

 

They also built and ran a sugar refinery, pier and steamboat line.

 

Harris had used his downtown refinery to smuggle escaped slaves to freedom.

Historians say the uptown refinery, steamboat and this house, too, so close to the river in a sparsely populated area, were likely used in further Underground Railroad activities.

 

In Upper Manhattan, where abolitionism is not thought to have flourished, little history — particularly little African-American history — has been recognized and preserved.

 

The house at
857 Riverside Drive
is the last surviving
remnant of this
explosive chapter
in the story
of New York.

Today, the Harris-Newhouse home is a symbol of our community — a tolerant and diverse place that remains one of the few affordable, livable, and relatively low-rise neighborhoods in Manhattan.

 

The destruction of the Harris-Newhouse home, and its replacement by a 13-story sliver tower, would be a 135-foot-high assault on our community, casting a literal and figurative shadow on the diversity that is our neighborhood’s pride.

 

It would give the green light to high-rise development all along our stretch of the Hudson River, and eradicate the memory of the brave residents who helped transform the area into the vibrant corner of the city it is today.

So we’re digging in.

 

THIS HOUSE,
THIS HISTORY,
AND THIS COMMUNITY
ARE WORTH SAVING.

We invite you to follow along with
Josette Bailey at our newest page:

THE

WORDS FROM THE PRESIDENT OF THE URRA

Eric K. Washington

Manhattan's historic
Former Colored School No. 4,
at 128 West 17th Street
is the topic of Streetscapes
in The New York Times.

LINK TO ARTICLE.

EricKWashingtonNYTimes.jpeg

See petition for overview: 
https://chng.it/ZWn5bqh7

THE MARCH OF PROGRESS HAS NOT BEEN KIND TO CULTURAL LANDMARKS RELEVANT TO PERSONS OF COLOR IN UPPER MANHATTAN.

A TRUE STORY.jpg

Sites related to abolitionists and the Underground Railroad are rare in New York, and this historically Greek Revival–Italianate house is arguably the only one known to survive north of 96t​h​ Street in Manhattan.

0625_URRA_TILES_ABOLITIONIST.jpg
0625_TILES_6x6_JohnLeoHouses.jpg
0625_URRA_TILES_6x6_EXPANDING.jpg

TO LEARN ABOUT THE HISTORY OF THE ABOLITIONIST HOUSE AND NEIGHBORHOOD,
READ THE
 PROPOSAL TO EXPAND THE Audubon Park Historic District.

Our Mission and Goals bright blue.jpg

UPPER RIVERSIDE RESIDENTS ALLIANCE
(Save Riverside) is a GRASSROOTS ORGANIZATION DEDICATED TO PRESERVING OUR ARCHITECTURAL, HISTORICAL, & CULTURAL HERITAGE IN WASHINGTON HEIGHTS.

For our Introduction PDF, link to the HDC Audubon Park booklet, and team bios: ABOUT US.

Upper Riverside
Residents Alliance


OFFICERS
Josette Bailey, President
Vivian Ducat, Vice President
Matthew Spady, Treasurer
Mitch Mondello, Secretary

DIRECTORS
Joe Amodio
David Freeland
Peter Green

00_INTRO_Slide1.jpeg
BOLTON_Part1_Slide3.jpeg
BOLTON_Part2_Slide2.jpeg
Instagram_11_homepage.jpeg
Slide8.jpeg
URRA_158_Slide1.jpeg
00_INTRO_Slide7.jpeg