Two years after renovation work began on Inwood‘s historic 215th Street staircase or “The Stairs of Death,” or the “Italian Terrace” as it was called in 1911 —which connects Park Terrace East to Broadway over a 50-foot incline—the work has finished, and the refurbished stairs are set to make their public debut. WXY Studios, the architecture firm that partnered with New York City’s Department of Design and Construction on the renovation, will open the staircase to the public in a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday.
According to the Historic Districts Council, the “step street” (so named because, well, it’s a street made from stairs) were built in 1911 and were once surrounded by 100 cast-iron, Art Deco lamp posts. Two of those still stand today, and are NYC landmarks. When they were first built, the stairs connected the high hills of Inwood to the street below; but as the years went by, the passageway fell into disrepair.
In a press release, WXY founder Claire Weisz said, “The Inwood community deserves a safe stair path, but they also deserve a beautiful public space they can feel proud of, where neighbors can greet one another as they pass on their daily commute.” To that end, the revamped stairs have new plants and trees, cobblestone paths, and a “bike channel” that will let cyclists easy move their two-wheelers from one end to the other.
Photo credits: 1) The Deconstruction of the 215th Street Steps in 1916. 2) The Deconstruction of the 215th Street Steps. 3) The Deconstruction of the 215th Street Steps [MyInwood]. 4) The Deconstruction of the 215th Street Steps [MyInwood].