Yesterday

This page is dedicated to the history of Seward Park High School and to the memories it invokes in the people who attended the school over the years.

Below the History section are a collection of personal memories from past students.

To visit the memories section click here Memories

History

The story of Seward Park High School began with P.S. 62 Intermediate which was located at Essex, Hester, and Norfolk Streets. When P.S. 62 opened its doors in 1905, the Lower East Side was purported to be the most densely populated spot in the world. People of more nationalities lived here than anywhere else in the United States. Residents were eager to utilize the opportunities of public education as the city schools represented a gateway from the life of toil to which their parents had been confined in the "old country." To the parents of these children the schools were almost sacred institutions.

The students of P.S. 62 immediately began to excel academically. They also had a keen interest in athletics and PS. 62's champion basketball and soccer teams were the pride of the neighborhood for many years. The original student body of P.S. 62 were exclusively seventh and eighth graders. In 1916 a ninth grade was added making this one of the city's first junior high schools. Robert Brodie became principal of the school at this time and the school became known as Seward Park Junior High School. The school began a successful experiment with "rapid advancement" and pre-vocational courses.

In 1923 Seward Park Junior High became the first experimental junior-senior high school. This experiment lasted only a few years as the junior high school students were transferred to P.S. 65 (Charles Sumner Junior High School). The high school remained and the name was modified to Seward Park High School with Robert Brodie as principal.

When plans were made for the construction of the Sixth Avenue Subway, it became necessary to take down Seward Park High School's building. The site for the new school was chosen as the block bounded by Essex, Grand, Brooms and Ludlow Streets. On this site stood six tenements, P.S. 137, a street running from Essex to Ludlow Street called Essex Market Place, a Court House and the Alimony Jail of which Al Smith had at one time been the sheriff in charge. The former school site became Seward Park Oval on Essex Street which today is used for tennis, running and basketball.

Seward Park High School's new building was completed in 1929 and a new era began.

Ludlow Street Jail
Compliments of Ephemeral New York, January 2010

ludlowstreetjail2

Opened in 1862 at Ludlow and Broome Street, the Ludlow Street jail was meant for civil rather than criminal offenders-many of whom could pay extra money and get better accommodations.

And those upgraded accommodations weren't bad. We're talking a reading room, grocery store, and cells with comfy beds and curtains. It looks more like a posh university club, according to the illustrations below.

Notable prisoners include notoriously sinister politician William "Boss" Tweed, sent to Ludlow on corruption charges. He died there as well.

There's also Victoria Woodhull, the first female candidate for president and a free-love advocate, who was accused of sending obscene material in the mail. She was found not guilty six months later.

The jail was also known as the "alimony club," since many "delinquent husbands" got sent there, as a 1925 New York Times article put it.

It was bulldozed in the late 1920s. On the site now: Seward Park High School.

Memories

Please submit your memories of Seward to sewardparkalumni@gmail.com

My name is Jerry Agrinzoni and I graduated from Seward in 1974. After completing my undergraduate degree at The City College and graduate degree from the Columbia University School of Social Work I worked at various jobs. From substance abuse counseling at the Addiction Research and Treatment Corporation's methadone maintenance program in Harlem (the Starting Point Clinic) to Services for the Underserved (community residential services for mentally ill chemical abusers) to my current employment with the New York City Housing Authority in the Social Services Department, I often look back on my years at Seward fondly. The environment there, the culture of the neighborhood and the students and teachers proved to be as guiding lights, urging me in the direction of wanting to help people. I received a lot of support and guidance from those individuals at Seward who were charged with bringing out each student's talents. So much were they invested in my future that the guidance counselor applied for me to go to The City College, at a time when I was unmotivated to go to any institution of higher learning. Thank goodness for that! And, thank you Seward Park! I'm sorry to see the old school go, and am heartened to see its incarnation ready to guide the youth of today and tomorrow into this new century. I pray that the same supportive environment I had still lives on! If anyone from the class of 1974, or any other year, would like to email me, please do at jagrinzoni@yahoo.com.

Jerry Agrinzoni '74

almanac

My name is Jacquelyn Anderson and I attended and graduated from Seward Park in 1974. Since that time, I've entered the media. I was a radio newscaster at NJN (WNJT), and have been an on-air radio personality for several years now at stations in New Jersey and Alabama. I currently host "Midday Jazz With Jackie Anderson" at WJAB 90.9 FM, in Huntsville, Alabama. Also, I manage Hammond B3 jazz organist Vince Seneri, who is in the NY/NJ area. His latest CD is "Street Talk", with Grammy-winner Dave Valentin, Houston, Person, and David "Fathead" Newman. We are in the process of planning a world tour. I did get a chance to go to New York back in August, 2005 for my vacation, and had the privilege to drive by Seward Park High with my brother Kenny. I'll be back in New York soon. It brought back many wonderful memories for me! If anyone would like to contact me, my email address is:teekynyc@yahoo.com.

Jacquelyn Anderson '74

folio

I have very fond and vivid memories of my years at SPHS, not the least of which the year when I brought prestige to the school by having a short story I had written for the school's creative writing publication (called the Folio) won the district prize for Manhattan in a contest sponsored by NYU. At that time, all high schools in each of the boroughs were invited to submit student stories and I had to be persuaded to do so by my then honors English teacher, Miss Lyons. It was a first for the school and it made the faculty and all the students very proud.

Mollie Abzug Pier '37

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