On a warm spring morning, Kathrin Bachhofer, her sister Annette Bachhofer, and two of their friends, Andrea Kern and Martina Leuschner—all of whom hail from Nuremberg, Germany—met with Big Apple Greeter for a Day, New York City Comptroller John Liu to visit a nugget of New York history- Jumel Terrace Historic District in Washington Heights.
The young women, visiting New York for the first time, met their Big Apple Greeter Chafin Elliott at their hotel then hopped on the C train up to 161 Street and St. Nicholas Avenue to meet Comptroller Liu and the many people who welcomed them to the neighborhood. Among them were Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Kenneth Moss, director of the Morris-Jumel Mansion, Raybblin Vargas and Obie Bing from Community Board 12, Maria Luna, a district leader, and Yvonne Stennent, a community organizer from CLOTH.
Comptroller Liu led the group up a set of almost hidden stairs. When everyone stepped onto Jumel Terrace, they were transported back 140 years in time! Before them was Sylvan Terrace, a street lined with wooden framed row houses, dating back to the 1880’s and the Morris-Jumel Mansion, Manhattan’s oldest house and headquarters to General Washington in September and October of 1776. Flanking the mansion on one side were limestones buildings -one of which at one time housed the singer/actor Paul Robeson. On the other side of the street was 555 Edgecomb Avenue, a famous building in which Duke Ellington and Etta James lived during the Harlem Renaissance. The visitors expressed their excitement at seeing a unique piece of “Old New York” in a city they thought of as filled with skyscrapers! They loved getting to know a small part of the city through the eyes of the locals and were so pleased that Greeter Chafin Elliott and Greeter for a Day Comptroller Liu were local people with different perspectives on the city.
Comptroller Liu said “being a Greeter for a Day enables you to hold New York City in the palm of your hand, as well as in your heart. It is a special opportunity to give a different perspective to visitors who come from far and wide by showing them a district that is a page out of history.”
Story by Phyllis Hoffman
Photo by Paul Margolis