Rose Hill, Manhattan

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Rose Hill is a recently-revived name for a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Manhattan.[1] It is bounded by 25th Street and 30th Street on the south and north, and by Third Avenue and Madison or Fifth Avenue on the east and west. The neighborhoods surrounding Rose Hill are Murray Hill to the north, Kips Bay to the east, the Flatiron District and Gramercy Park to the south, and NoMad to the west.[2] It straddles Manhattan Community Boards 5 and 6.


Watts' Rose Hill in the Bronx

The designation "Rose Hill" has been until recently more prominent in The Bronx, where Rose Hill Park is a vestige of a far larger estate once called "Rose Hill" by its owner, Robert Watts, and Rose Hill Campus is part of the site of Fordham University. According to the New York City Department of Parks,[3] in 1775[4] Robert's brother John married his cousin Jane DeLancey, whose family lived on the adjacent property, which is now Bronx Park. Prior to his marriage, John Watt had lived on his Manhattan properties. He purchased the Bronx property in 1787 from the estate of Andrew Corsa. Shortly afterwards, John transferred the property to his brother Robert, who named it "Rose Hill".[5]

Archival research by Roger Wines, professor of history at Fordham, has shown that the original owner of the manor was a Dutchman named Reyer Michaelson. Benjamin Corsa married Michaelson's daughter and was deeded the house and land in 1736. John Hughes, Roman Catholic Bishop of New York, purchased Rose Hill in 1839 as the future site of Fordham's forerunner, St. John's College.[6]

The Watts farms "Rose Hill"

According to a historical genealogical source,[7] the first "Rose Hill" was the farm acquired from James DeLancey in November 1747[8] by the Hon. John Watts (1715-1789), who represented the city for many years in the Colonial Assembly. It contained over 130 acres (0.53 km2) which lay on the East River between what were to become 21st and 30th streets and between the future 4th Avenue and the water. Watts' residence in town was at 3 Broadway, facing Bowling Green. Watts was the son of Robert Watts, of "Rose Hill", near Edinburgh, and Mary, eldest daughter of William Nicoll, of Islip, Long Island; he named the farm in commemoration of his father's house. In July 1742, he married Ann, youngest daughter of Stephen DeLancey. As Loyalists, they left for Britain in 1775 and never returned, leaving "Rose Hill" and the house at 3 Broadway facing Bowling Green, in the hands of their son John Watts (1749—1836); he received both houses outright in his father's will, proved 12 September 1789.[9]

The main house at Rose Hill burned in 1779, during the British occupation, but a deed from the 1780s mentions "houses, buildings, orchards, gardens" on the land.[10] Christopher Gray reports that parts of Rose Hill Farm were being sold off in the 1780s: in 1786, Nicholas Cruger paid "144 pounds" for a lot at the north edge of the property, consisting of most of what is now the block bounded by 29th and 30th Streets and Second and Third Avenues.

Rose Hill Farm in 1790

Having been rebuilt and refurbished after the Revolutionary War, Rose Hill Farm was put up for sale, advertised in the New-York Daily Advertiser, 9 Feb 1790:4;


The Cruger parcel was subdivided into building lots by the time the Commissioners' Plan of 1811 was adopted, establishing Manhattan's present street grid.

Just to the southwest corner of the "Rose Hill" property, Gramercy Park was laid out in 1831, on the axis of what became Lexington Avenue. The map made in 1866 by John Bute Holmes, of "Rose Hill Farm Gramercy Seat, and the estate of John Watts" is conserved in the New York Public Library.[11]

Institutions of Rose Hill

Today's community is home to the core of the Baruch College and School of Visual Arts campuses and the New York University College of Dentistry. Madison Square anchors its southwest corner, bounded by 23rd Street, 26th Street, Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue.

The original Madison Square Garden at Madison Square was located at the corner of Madison Avenue and 26th Street, and stood at the site from 1879 to 1890. The second Madison Square Garden, located at the same site, was designed by Stanford White, who would later be killed at the Garden's rooftop restaurant. This second incarnation of Madison Square Garden stood at 26th Street from 1890 to 1925, when the Garden was relocated to the West Side at 33rd Street and Eighth Avenue.[12]

White kept an apartment in the tower of Madison Square Garden; there are conflicting accounts of whether the famous "red velvet swing" was in that apartment, or in a nearby building on 24th Street which White rented. In 2007, the building on 24th Street collapsed due to damage from a fire that occurred in 2003.[13][14]

The square is dominated by the former headquarters (until 2005) of Metropolitan Life Insurance Company and the headquarters of New York Life Insurance Company, located on the site of the original Madison Square Garden.

Those buildings are designated New York City landmarks, as is the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court of New York State, between them. The blocks immediately north of the park were designated the Madison Square North Historic District in 2001, a delineation which covers sections of three blocks on the west side of Broadway as well.[15] The historic district is the site of the Museum of Sex, located at Fifth Avenue at 27th Street.[16] It is also the site of The Gershwin Hotel[17]

The community has several single room occupancy supportive housing ventures, among them Friends House in Rosehill, a Quaker venture which in effect recovered the neighborhood's old name, and the Prince George Hotel sponsored by Common Ground - a neighbor of the Gershwin and the Museum of Sex.


Rose Hill is served by four subway stations. The 23rd Street and 28th Street stations on the BMT Broadway Line offer service on the Template:NYCS Broadway local trains at Broadway. The 23rd Street and 28th Street stations of the IRT Lexington Avenue Line are both located on Park Avenue South, offering service on the 4 6 <6> trains.

The area is also served by north-south bus lines on the avenues and Broadway and the M23 east-west crosstown bus service on 23rd Street. The district to the east of Lexington Avenue never developed fashionable quarter. To the north it abuts Kips Bay.

See also

  • NoMad – the neighborhood north and west of Madison Square Park.


  1. Harrison, Karen Tina. "NEIGHBORHOOD REPORT: ROSE HILL; It's the Final Furlong For a Loved OTB Parlor", The New York Times, April 1, 2001. Accessed August 18, 2008.
  2. Neighborhoods in New York City do not have official status, and their boundaries are not specifically set by the city. (There are a number of Community Boards, whose boundaries are officially set, but these are fairly large and generally contain a number of neighborhoods, and the neighborhood map issued by the Department of City Planning only shows the largest ones.) Because of this, the definition of where neighborhoods begin and end is subject to a variety of forces, including the efforts of real estate concerns to promote certain areas, the use of neighborhood names in media news reports, and the everyday usage of people. The eastern boundary of NoMad, an up-and-coming negihborhood north and west of Madison Square Park, and the western boundary of Rose Hill, is thus uncertain, and propnents of both may make claim to the assests that lie in the borderlands between them.
  3. NYC Parks: Rose Hill Park: The Watts are called "Watt". Robert added the -s, according to James Duff Law (Here and There in Two Hemispheres 1903:6), who traced the site of the original "Rose Hill"
  4. The double wedding of Col. Thomas H. Barclay and John Watts, Jr. to two daughters of Peter DeLancey, at "Union Hill" in Westchester (a property of Cadwalader Golden, Delancey's father-in-law), was recorded in Rivington's New-York Gazetteer (R. Burnham Moffat, The Barclays of New York 1904::104 note 13).
  5. The name was transferred to property at Tivoli, New York of John Watts de Peyster, whose father, Frederic De Peyster, had married Mary Justina Watts (died 1821), youngest daughter of the Hon. John Watts, in the front parlor at 3, Broadway, in 1820 (Frank Allaben, John Watts de Peyster (1908:25); see also the description in Arthur G. Adams, The Hudson River Guidebook 1996:233, at mile 96.00.
  6. Fordham Tradition, September 1989, on-line text).
  7. William M. MacBean, Biographical Register of Saint Andrew's Society of the State of New York. Vol. I 1756-1806 (1922), s.v. "(47) Watts, the Hon. John" (on-line text).
  8. (John Watts), Dorothy C. Barck, ed., "Letter book of John Watts: merchant and councillor of New York", New-York Historical Society Collections, 61 (1928:xiii).
  9. John Watts' will is abstracted in "New York gleanings in England", The New -York Genealogical and Biographical Record (April 1905:116f).
  10. Christopher Gray, "a house that's shy about revealing its age", The New York Times,
  11. NYPL Bulletin, 1 (1897), "Principal Book Purchases and Gifts" p. 141, s.v. "Holmes (John Bute)".
  12. Bagli, Charles V. "Madison Square Garden's Owners Are in Talks to Replace It, a Block West", The New York Times, September 12, 2005. Accessed August 18, 2008.
  13. Dworin, Caroline H. (2007-11-04). "The Girl, the Swing and a Row House in Ruins". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-08-19. 
  14. Williams, Timothy (2007-10-28). "Building in Flatiron Collapses, Causing a Mess but No Injuries". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-08-20. 
  15. Madison Square North Historic District, New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, designated June 26, 2001. Accessed August 18, 2008.
  16. Rothstein, Edward. "What’s Latex Got to Do With It?", The New York Times, October 5, 2007. Accessed August 18, 2008.
  17. Gershwin Hotel website

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