The history of Murray Hill extends back over 200 years and showcases both the rise of a great city and the continuous preservation of a residential neighborhood.
Murray Hill today possesses a rich architectural heritage that serves as a constant reminder of the fascinating and often colorful people who have lived here.
The Making of Murray Hill
The land originally known as Inclenburg was not far removed from the wilderness in 1753, the year Robert Murray moved to New York City from Pennsylvania and took up residence at the corner of Queen (now Pearl) and Wall Streets. He owned Murray's Wharf at the foot of Wall Street and conducted an importing business.
Manhattan Moves Uptown
The Murray family had acted just in time. In 1848, Lexington Avenue was opened from 30th to 42nd Street and in 1851, the Fourth Avenue railroad tracks were covered over from 32nd to 40th Streets. The eight-block stretch of road was renamed Park Avenue, and the description was apt-the central malls were lavishly planted and featured well-groomed paths suitable for an enjoyable stroll.
The Gaslight Era
By the end of the 19th century, Murray Hill had taken on a character that can still be seen today: opulent mansions were built between Fifth and Park Avenues and elegant brownstones between Park and Lexington Avenues. The stables and carriage houses which served the fine families stood between Lexington and Third.
A Residential Enclave
The Murray Hill Restriction of 1847 had served the neighborhood well. Although challenged many times to the highest courts, with few exceptions, the Restriction was upheld. But the one thing the Murray descendants could not have foreseen was the advent of a new type of "dwelling"-the apartment house.