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September 2001


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A LISTSERV list for discussions pertaining to New York State history." <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 25 Sep 2001 15:58:40 EDT
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On Park Avenue at 89th Street (NYC) there are iron grates -- perhaps 15' x
15' --venting the railroad tracks underneath.  The grates date from the
1870's, but may have been altered.   The slate coping flags (about 12" wide
and 1' to 3' long)  that surround the iron grates at the edge bear unusual
incised inscriptions, irregularly carved, obviously done free-hand, not
uniformly placed on the stones.  These include, for instance:

    C No 11   Mc


    C No 11 HV

    PMK I 7

    H N 91 HWS

The coping stones (which look 19th century) may have been reused from earlier
railroad projects - the tracks were covered in the 1870's, but were open to
the sky from 1834 to that time.  It occurred to me that the flags might have
come from the original trackbed, and that these inscriptions might be related
to the original rail operations or waypoints.  But the maintenance of way
people at Metro-North (our local rail line) say they don't recognize any
rhyme or reason to them.  (All the other grates have been rebuilt, and these
are the last surviving ones - otherwise I might be able to develop a wider

The inscriptions definitely do not have the character of graffitti.  Do any
NYHIST subscribers have a psychic hotline to what these might mean?

Christopher Gray
"Streetscapes" Columnist, Sunday Real Estate Section
The New York Times
office:  246 West 80th Street
New York City   10024
voice:  212-799-0520
fax:     212-799-0542
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