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City Living: Marble Hill

Marble Hill

Marble Hill Credit: Brian Driscoll

Step off the No. 1 train at 225th Street, and you might think you’re in the Bronx. Yes, that is the Harlem River to the south, and yes, the businesses along Broadway do display 718 area codes.

But you’re standing in Marble Hill, Manhattan’s northernmost neighborhood. A quirk of geography has kept Marble Hill firmly under Manhattan’s authority, despite its physical location in the Bronx.

“When I get called for jury duty, I have to go all the way down to Pearl Street,” said Dorothy Shepherd, who has lived in Marble Hill for most of her life. But when her sister, who lives blocks away, gets called, “she goes to 161st Street in the Bronx.”

Originally connected to Manhattan, Marble Hill was separated from the mainland by the Spuyten Duyvil Creek. In 1895, the Harlem River ship canal was constructed, severing Marble Hill from Manhattan and making it a stand-alone island. Eventually the creek was filled in and Marble Hill became attached to the Bronx.

Today, the neighborhood is primarily residential, with a main shopping thoroughfare along Broadway.

The unique location and small size (only 52 acres) makes many residents feel like they live in a small town. Craig Spenser, who grew up in Marble Hill, said he feels a real sense of community.

“If you were playing hooky and another parent saw you, they would make you come to their house while they called your parents,” he said. “You knew you were in trouble."

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DID YOU KNOW?

Tyrone Aiken, who voiced the plant in “Little Shop of Horrors” during the show’s 1985 Broadway season, honed his stage chops while growing up in Marble Hill.

On March 11, 1939, Bronx Borough President James J. Lyons planted a Bronx County flag at 225th and Jacobus Place, proclaiming Marble Hill part of the Bronx and demanding subservience. The residents did not comply and the neighborhood remains part of New York County to this day.

REAL ESTATE

Victorian Queen Anne-style houses characterize most of Marble Hill, but there are also many rental apartments.
 
To Rent

$1,425
A 725-sq.-foot one-bedroom on the fifth floor with an elevator, hardwood floors and a Harlem River view on W. 225th St.

$1,195
Junior one-bedroom on Adrian Avenue on the first floor of a walk-up with on-site laundry facilities.

Contact: Annie Hawkins, Sovereign Associates
ahawkins@sovereignrealestate.com, 917-771-0172
 

To Buy

$350,000
One-family home with five bedrooms, a one-car garage and a backyard on Terrace View Ave.

$319,000
Condo on Adrian Avenue with three bedrooms, new kitchen, tile flooring and large living room.

Contact: Linda Lebowitz, Fieldston Properties
 ll@fieldstonproperties.com, 718-601-1000

 $650,000
A huge, three-floor single-family home with eight bedrooms, new roof and a two-car driveway on Adrian Ave.

Contact: Zaida Perez, Century 21, 718-794-2327

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TO EAT

Most residents of Marble Hill head up to 231st Street and Broadway for dining options.

Land & Sea Restaurant
5535 Broadway,
718-543-3440
A 24-hour diner with an enormous menu, Land & Sea is one of the favorites of the early morning breakfast crowd and the late night bar crowd. If you’re in a hurry, stop at Louie’s Goodies walk-up window at the north end of the restaurant for mini burgers, milk shakes and virgin daiquiris.

Arturo’s Pizzeria
5189A Broadway,
718-562-3820
The oldest restaurant in Marble Hill, Arturo’s has been selling slices for more than 40 years. They claim to have more than 500 combinations of menu items and will deliver anywhere in NYC.

Loeser’s Kosher Deli
214 W. 231st St.,
718-601-6665
One of the last kosher delis in the Bronx, Loeser’s has been piling high their pastrami sandwiches since 1960. Owner and founder Freddy Loeser still works there, helping to keep strong a fading Bronx tradition.

El Economico Restaurant
5589 Broadway,
718-796-4851
There isn’t much decor here, but people don’t come for the ambience. They come for the freshly prepared traditional Latin American cuisine at unbelievably cheap prices.

TO PLAY

Jazz on Wednesday
146 W. 228th St.,
718-562-8692
Held in the historical St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church, the Rev. Nathaniel Dixon, who used to be a professional jazz saxophonist, hosts a free jazz prayer service every Wednesday at 1 p.m. (excepting June through September).

Keenan’s Bar and Grill
5588 Broadway,
718-548-9751
Keenan’s is a great place to grab a drink and watch some sports with the locals. If you’re hungry, you might end up with free hot dogs, which are dished out every other Sunday.

Bingo on 231st St.
Basement of 189 W. 231st St., 718-708-4902
Follow the green turf to the giant downstairs bingo hall. Open for day and night games on Friday and Saturday, and night games on Sunday. Proceeds go toward local charities.

TO SEE

Methodist Church
146 W. 228th St.,
718-562-8692
Standing for 111 years, St. Stephen’s is the centerpiece of Marble Hill.  Current renovations — the first major work in the church’s history — have brought it new cedar shingles, mahogany molding and Yankee gutters.  The makeover gives the already dramatic building a vibrant new sheen, from the garden out front to the bell tower that rises high above.

Homes on Adrian Ave.
Adrian Avenue from West 228th to West 225th streets
It’s easy to forget you’re still in Manhattan while walking along the residential streets of Adrian Avenue. It’s the only neighborhood in Manhattan where you’ll find a street full of detached two-story family homes with front and backyards and single-car garages.  Walk or ride your bike — the entire street, and almost all of the others in the area, are dedicated bike lanes.

TO SHOP

Flowers by Zenda
5217 Broadway,
718-562-8979
Marble Hill residents have been buying flowers from this local florist for generations. Current owner Orlando Kross began as a part-time employee 17 years ago and never left. He has made no changes to the style or substance of the store, except for a samurai sword in his office — which is just there for spiritual protection.

Marble Hill International Unisex Salon
151 W. 228th St.,
718-562-9788
Roosevelt “Rosey” Spivey opened his barbershop on June 15, 1962, just a few months after graduating from barber college.  “If you would have told me then I’d be here three months, I wouldn’t have believed you,” he said.  Nearly 50 years later he is cutting the hair of grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Marble Hill residents. Except for wallpaper, he hasn’t changed anything  — even the cash register.

Leila’s Hand Dipped Chocolate
225 W. 231st St.,
347-964-1810
Named after the daughter of owner Keith Mitchell, Leila’s prides itself on stocking products not often found in other Bronx candy shops, like shoelace licorice and sugar-free snacks.  Their specialty, though, are the Cake Balls — small spheres of cake-dipped in chocolate.
 


 

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