Manhattanville: Phase 1

December 18, 2008 -

Manhattanville is a gritty industrial valley on the western edge of Harlem. Situated underneath multiple overpasses, including the famed Riverside Drive Viaduct, the neighborhood is a colorful collection of auto body shops, stone & marble fabricators, boiler repairmen and meat wholesalers. In recent years, its cobblestone streets have experienced a growing popularity, with a new Fairway Market and restaurants like Dinosaur BBQ drawing in crowds.

Columbia University plans to demolish 17 acres of this busy neighborhood. They will replace them with a huge new $7 billion extension campus. As part of this plan, Manhattanville was declared blighted in 2008 by the Empire State Development Corporation, opening the door for government use of eminent domain to seize the property of any businesses that did not wish to relocate. Like the radical transformation being forced upon the industrial businesses of the Iron Triangle, this plan was met with much protest, but to date, only three businesses continue to hold out against Columbia - a gas station and two storage companies.

Work has already begun on on Phase 1 of Columbia's plan, which will remove a city block between 129th and 130th Street west of Broadway. Several businesses in this block, including a service station and parking lot, have already closed their doors. Popular restaurants like Dinosaur BBQ and Floridita will be displaced. The prematurely quieted streets of Phase 1 are now watched over by dozens of security cameras.

For more photo essays on neighborhoods endangered by eminent domain, please visit The Bloomberg Era, Part Two (2010), The Demolition of Manhattanville (2011), The Iron Triangle (2008), and The Atlantic Yards (2007).

ESDC Report

No Parking

No Dumping

Flat Fix

Stone & Marble

Abandoned Gas Station

Emergency Shutoff


Manhattanville Houses


  1. Well, what with the economy these days, Columbia may have to put its development plans on hold. And that really sucks for the neighborhood (now that the businesses and residents have largely already moved) AND for the university (which is in dire need of the space).

  2. Dinosaur BBQ gone?! But I never got to go!!

  3. The Manhattanville Plan may indeed have to be put on hold because of the economy, like the major development plans in Willets Point and the Atlantic yards. But don't worry - if the plan goes through, Dinosaur BBQ will be relocated to a place right across the street!

  4. this is being paid for with private $$$. The likelyhood of this progressing past Phase 1 is still pretty high.

  5. The Atlantic Yards was also being paid for with a lot of private $$$, and now work has stopped on that project. In this economy, anything that hasn't been half-built already is up for re-evaluation. And in Manhattanville, they haven't broken ground on any construction or buildings yet, they've just moved a lot of businesses out....

    Anything can happen.