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Turtle Bay in Manhattan | History | Midtown East | Community

chrylser-building.jpgTurtle Bay in Manhattan, New York is NOT to be confused with the Turtle Bay Resort in Hawaii. The small community of Turtle Bay measures from Lexington to the East River and 42nd Street to 53rd Street and sits within the boundaries of Midtown East. With everything in between! Including the United Nations World Headquarters, The Chrysler Building, MacArthur Park (Yep, the one in the Beatles Song) and Robert Moses Playground and Park! Yes, Turtle Bay has some very important and historic buildings! 

History of Turtle Bay Manhattan- Let us start with just a bit about the history of Turtle Bay Manhattan. As far as we can tell from public records, the Dutch Governor granted a pair of lucky Englishmen a land grant of forty acres. Part of the coveted acreage intersected with the East River in the form of a creek. There is much debate over the name given; some say the word Turtle was just New Yorkers mispronunciation of the Dutch word deutal which means "bent blade" referring to the shape of the bay. Others believe it was named after the creek which was filled with turtles at the time. Turtle Soup anybody?The bay was popular with the many sailing ships rushing to avoid the winter winds and feisty currents of the East River.
Towards the end of the Revolutionary War in 1783 Turtle Bay had been an important area of commerce for Manhattan. When Robert Fulton built and tested his famous steamboat in 1808 along the East River; shipbuilders, mills and breweries populated Turtle Bay. Mr. Horace Greeley had a home in Turtle Bay. Greeley was not only the founder of the NY Tribune newspaper but was also known as the person who coined the famous Bull and Bear market on the stock exchange which before that was simply known as the market going up or down. As the story goes, Greeley was in California in 1859 and came upon a bull and a bear fighting. The bull would lift its head up to skewer the bear and the bear would bring its mighty claws down to feign off the bull. That´s the story anyway, and we're sticking with it..

greeley.jpgIn the year of Greeley´s death he was running for President against General Grant, but Greeley only received 43% of the popular vote. A fact he was unaware of as he died before knowing the results. The gentleman that took this picture in 1850 had his shop a block away from what was later known as the World Trade Center. Greeley was 40 years old when this picture was taken. 
Another famous gentleman Edgar Allen Poe who was a friend of Greeley´s had pointed out the beauty of the scenery at Turtle Bay and took a tour in a rowboat around Blackwell´s Island which is now called Roosevelt Island. Poe wrote in a commentary for a local newspaper and noted the homes were exceptional and it was a shame that progress would soon have her way with the landscape. Soon after his visit the land was indeed mapped out and sold in smaller parcels in the 1850´s. 

turtle-bay-real-estate.jpgBetween 1850 and 1946 many historic events took place, too many to name them all here. However in 1946 with the elimination of the old warehouses the United Nations built Turtle Bay´s most modern architecture to date. And once the El Train was removed and the shake rattle and roll as it passed was hushed, Turtle Bay began a boom of growth in the form of high rise apartments, condos and co-ops. This was looked upon as positive growth until 1957 when the threat of progress was too much to bare. The residents created Turtle Bay Association to uphold the peacefulness that to this date surrounds Turtle Bay. They have been successful in many battles and have dedicated the organization to the future of Turtle Bay and its residents. Turtle Bay Association was established to preserve and protect this beautiful quiet neighborhood in Manhattan. The association is also proud to help sponsor the Valentine´s Day "Love the neighbor" party and the Turtle Bay Street Fair annually. Today Turtle Bay is part of the NYPD 17th Precinct. The neighborhood is also part of the New York Community Board #6 The Community Board is responsible for final approval on all improvement in the area and regularly holds public meetings to discuss the future of Turtle Bay.
turtle-bay.jpgThe Cambridge School of English as a Second Language is on 43rd Street in Turtle Bay. Not only do they teach ESL but Business English classes as well. Another school a few blocks away is the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York. They had a Papal visit in the spring of 2008 as they ended the year long Bicentennial celebration. The atmosphere of Turtle Bay today is that of class and style. The brownstones, tenements, coops and high rise office space is mixed in among yearling trees and newly planted flowers and other landscape. turtle-bay-gardens.jpg

Over on 52nd Street is the Riverhouse which is just a few blocks from the United Nations and was built in 1931. A 4 bedroom apartment in that building IS the lap of luxury. The building has a panoramic view of the East River and with a squash court, pool and its own garden and ballroom.

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Lee Presser
Lee Presser
Lic. Associate Real Estate Broker
1501 Broadway 12th FL New York NY 10036