Barnard Beginnings: An East Side Story

Barnard Beginnings: An East Side Story

Barnard College, long a presence on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, first opened in 1889 on the East Side, in a four-story brownstone located at 343 Madison Avenue, between 44th  and 45th St. The standard explanation for this locational decision was that it provided the needed proximity to Columbia College, which was expected to provide Barnard with its instructors, and   since 1857 had been located four blocks to the north on Madison and 49th St.  There’s more to the story.

[NYPL Map of Part of Ward 19, New York City]

By the 1880s the preferred neighborhoods of Manhattan’s  wealthy and well-borne families were  no longer located in the lower parts of the island. The Lower East Side had by then been ceded to recently arrived immigrants and the once residentail areas around Wall Street and th original site of King’s college/Columbia College had been given over to commerce and manufacturing. The resultant migration northward of residences for the City’s econimc and social elite was accompanied by  the cultural institutions – schools, churches, clubs — that were sponsored by and served that same elite.

With the opening of Central Park in 1859, the western margins of the “East Side” was clearly demarcated. They ran along the eastern edge of the Park down Fifth Avenue from the 80s to the bottom of the part at 59th St, and then one block further westwrd to 6th Avenue and then down another 25 blocks to 30th Street.  The eastern boundary was less clearly defined, but a residential address  east of Lexington Avenue carried less social cachet than west of it.

One way to define The East Side’s  north-south limits in the 1880s was by the locations of the residences of two of Gotham’s wealthiest men,  each the leader of one of of the city’s social tribes. The blocks immediately around the home of J.P. Morgan, the merchant banker and leader of the City’s WASP elite,  at Madison and 34th St.,  marked the southern  limits;  that of Jacob Schiff, the head of Kuhn-Loeb & Co. and leader of the City’s German-Jewish community, at Fifth Avenue and 81st St., marked the northern limits.

Dimensions of east Side as defined here:

n/s – 50 blocks or 2 1/2 square miles
western boundary
Below 59th St to 30th — 6th Avenue to Lexington  — 5 blocks east /w – 5th Avenue from 1 block
Above 59th – 4 blocks – 5th/madison/Park/Lexington
1.5 square mile
Manhattan = 23 square miles – East Side à 1/15th of Manhattan

Social composition of turn-of-the-century East Side
Home to five of the City’s distinct social tribes:
1. Old New Yorkers – Knickerbockers – Pre-Revolutionary Dutch and English
Episcopalians and Presbyterians; some Dutch Reformed à St. Nicholas Society
2. Sephardic Jewish community – Pre-Revolutionary “Grandees”
The Nathans/Lazurese/Cardozos
3. Transplanted New England professionals
Puritan/Mayflower ancestries – The Choates/Plimptons/New England Society
4. German-Jewish community – From Germany/Austria in 1850s
“Our Crowd” – Schiff/Goldman/Altschuls –> Harmonie Club
5. Wealthy outlanders moving to Manhattan


Most of the original members of the Barnard Board of Trustees  [17 of 22] lived on the east Side within walking distance of 343 Madison

NYers absent from East Side: Italians/Eastern European Jews/Blacks – Irish in neighborhood primarily as live-in servants

Lusk map of 1919 – upper East Side without designated “dangerous” immigrant groups



Original Barnard Board of Trustees
22 members – 17 (77%) lived on the East Side

2 Arthur Brooks 1 209 Madison Ave./35th East Side
4 Silas Brown Brownell 1 139 W. 53rd St. East Side
5 Virginia Brownell 0 205 W. 56th St. East Side
6 Caroline D. Sterling Choate 0 50 W.47th St East Side
7 Frederick R. Coudert 1 13 E. 45th St. East Side
8 Noah H. Davis 1 46 W. 56th St. East Side
9 George Hoadley 1 33 E. 50th St. East Side
11 Annie Nathan Meyer 0 749 Madison/65th East Side
13 Laura Spelman Rockefeller 0 4 W. 54th St. East Side
14 Jacob H. Schiff 1 932 5th Ave/74th East Side
15 Francis Lynde Stetson 1 4 E. 74th St. East Side
17 Henrietta E. Francis Talcott 0 7 W. 57th St. East Side
18 Henry Van Dyke 1 37th & 5th East Side
19 Ella Weed 0 45 E. 60th St. East Side
20 Everett P. Wheeler 1 101 E.71st St. East Side
21 Alice Williams 0 106 E. 38th St. East Side
22 Frances Fisher Wood 0 22 E. 41st St. East Side


Of the 31 trustees elected between 1890 and 1914, 26 (84%) lived on the East Side.

ID # First Name Maiden Last Gender Mnhtn Address Other Boro
23 Anne Wroe Scollay Low 0 30 E. 64th St East Side
24 Roderick Terry 1 169 Madison Ave. East Side
25 Lucretia Perry Osborn 0 850 Madison Ave. East Side
26 Elizabeth Milbank Anderson 0 6 E.38th St. East Side
27 Sarah Kittredge Canfield 0 32 E. 33rd St. East Side
29 Mrs. Henry Sanders 0 433 5th Ave. East Side
30 Edward W. Sheldon 1 46 Park Avenue East Side
31 Abram S. Hewitt 1 9 Lexington Ave. East Side
32 George W. Smith 1 39 W. 37th St. East Side
33 Florence Colgate Speranza 0 50 E. 57th St. East Side
34 William M. Grosvenor 1 209 Madison Ave. East Side
35 Franklin B. Lord 1 58 Park Ave East Side
36 Frederick S. Jennings 1 80 Park Avenue East Side
37 Mrs. Henry N. Nunn 0 281 lexington Ave. East Side
39 Horace W. Carpentier 1 108 East 37th St. East Side
40 Albert G. Milbank 1 42 E. 38th St. East Side
41 Eleanora Kissel Kinnicut 0 39 E. 35th St. East Side
42 Clara B. Spence 0 20 W. 55th St. East Side
43 Charles Stuart Smith 1 25 W.47th St East Side
44 Howard Townsend 1 29 W 39th St. East Side
46 Mary Stuart Pullman 0 1032 Park Ave. East Side
47 Janetta McCook Whitman 0 115 E. 65th St. East Side
48 George L. Rives 1 14 W. 38th St. East Side
49 Charlotte Sanford Baker 0 26 W. 55th St. East Side
52 Mary Harriman Rumsey 0 1 East 65th St. East Side
53 Helen Miles Rogers Reid 0 7 West 51st St. East Side


East Side home to their houses of worship:
Several Episcopal churches
Church of the Incarnation – 209 Madison Avenue at 34th40°44′54″N 73°58′57″W
Church of the Heavenly Rest – 5th Avenue and 46th St since the 1860s
St. Thomas – 53rd St. and 5th Avenue
St. Bartholomew’s Church – west side of Madison and 44th St.  (across the street and on the northern nw corner of 44th St.)

Brick Presbyterian — 37th and 5th Avenue
5th Avenue Presbyterian – 5th Avenue and 56th since 1876
All Souls’ Church – 6th and 34th Streeet

St. Patrick’s Cathedral, 50th and 5th Avenue,
Collegiate 5th and West 48th St

Local Schools
Miss Anne Brown’s School for Girls, 711-717  5th Avenue, between 56th and 57th Sts.
Brearley School, East 45th St. from 1884 to early 1900s
Spence School
Sachs School – West 59th St. [Julius Sachs]

Local Clubs
Century Association – 7 West 43rd in 1891
Metropolitan Club – 1 East 60th Street (1891)
Colony Club – Madison and 30th (1903)
Harmonie Club – served the German-Jewish elite beginning in 1852
In 1880s and 90s at 45 West 42nsd Street; moved in 1905 to East 60th St.

Indicators of wealth
Live-in servants
40 of the 53 early trustee were located in Census searches –
Median # of live-in servants = 4
Mean # of live-in servants = 5
8 trustees of 40 identified trustees with 8 or more live-in servants (20%)
Reid (15); Schiff (10); Rockefeller (8); Munn (8); Lord (8); Stetson (8); Rumsey (8); Milbank (8)

10 trustees with 5 to 7 live-in servants (25%)
17 trustees with 3 or 4 live-in servants (43%)

Century Club Membership – 27 men served on early Barnard board —  23 were Centurions
26  women – 23 with spouses ( 18 married) – 10 with Centurion husbands

Inclusion in New York Social Register (1897/1901) — 39  of 53 listed in either or both (74%)
Of 14 not listed,  7 were unmarried women at publication dates; 1 had died before 1897;
2 were not living in NYC. Only 3 other men not included, including Jacob Schiff who
refused because Social Register included members of clubs that excluded Jews.