Indian Spring, Amsterdam Avenue At 124th Street, Harlem, NY, 1898

July 6, 2017

Indian Spring and environs, on the southwest corner of Amsterdam Avenue and W. 124th Street, New York, November 16, 1898. 

Right before the dawn of the 20th century, the image documents cobblestone in the forward going right to left, and 124th Street with the Acropolis Apartments visible from rear. Harlemites stand on the sidewalk looking across 124th Street south-west towards a house sitting on a hill, long before the entire area was leveled to make room for Manhattan’s architectural grid.

The Indian wells and springs that ran throughout Harlem, the Bronx and the entire area are connected to the “Indian Springs” and wells that Harlem World Magazine wrote about a few years ago. James Reuel Smith’s photographs document this transition between “Indian Springs” and the industrial revolution of mass production bringing water to homes throughout the area.


Smith was born in 1852 in Skaneateles, NY. Smith loved photographing and investigating springs and wells. In 1922, he published Springs and Wells in Greek and Roman Literature, Their Legends and Locations. He spent much of the years from 1897 to 1901 bicycling around Northern Manhattan.

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