‘9 Miles From N. York,’ 1709, St. Nicholas Park. Harlem

February 24, 2012

The milestones marker is dated from 1709 as the 9th mile from New York within St. Nicholas Park. According to Harlem+Bespoke , it was taken around the 133rd Street and St. Nicholas Park area in 1955.

In 1669, the government of New Netherland designated a postal route between what would later be New York City at Cortland Street (south of where City Hall sits today) and Albany, the colony’s two most important cities at the time. It was a narrow path following old trails used by the Wiccoppe and Wappinger tribes, who often carried the mail. The colony eventually became the English Province of New York. The markers were placed as milestones in 1703 by the Provincial Legislature who passed a “Publick Highways” act to improve postal travel, in the reign of Queen Anne. Originally it was first known as the Queen’s Road, but became known as the Albany Post Road. The road received major improvements when the British Army realized it needed to improve defenses against the French to the north in New France (today’s Quebec). In 1754, it was widened and trees were cleared to allow the transport of troops and material in greater numbers. More milestones north of NYC were known to have been placed in 1763, sometime after Benjamin Franklin, who had advocated their use, appointed the colonies’ Joint Postmaster General.

New Yorkers who have visited the sites made observations and took it upon themselves to report to Harlem+Bespoke. Joe Schumacher commented that remnants of a marker at the Triangle Park at 117th Street and St. Nicholas (where the Harriet Tubman statue stands today). Greg commented that the 10 mile marker is intact, although the writing is worn off on the grounds of the Morris-Jumel Mansion (just behind the Octagonal Room). What remains of the mile 12 marker is embedded in the stone wall of Isham Park on Broadway between 211th and 212th Streets (the writing has worn off but look for the oblong red sandstone rock next to the entrance to the park). Also, Joe says that there are a bunch of milestones still standing along Rt. 9 in Westchester County.

A playground now sits on this section of St. Nicholas Park today where the above photo was apparently taken decades ago (was said to be removed in the 1990’s).

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