Walking the Post Road

View of the Harlem River Ship Canal, which was cut through upper Manhattan in 1895, separated Marble Hill from Manhattan Island. After Spuyten Duyvil Creek was filled in two decades later, Marble Hill became part of the mainland, but remains part of New York County.

“King’s Bridge is built over a narrow river which communicates with the Hudson on the west and Long Island Sound on the east.  The bridge is small, very narrow, and badly built.  It is worthy of no kind of notice, except that it forms the pass from the main, on to York Island.”

Reverend Manasseh Cutler, Diary, July 5, 1786.


  1. 1. Sarah Knight, Diary, 70, Thursday, December 21, 1704.

  2. 2. Indeed, every traveler’s diary I have consulted mentions King’s Bridge: in addition to Knight, Cutler (who added that Spuyten Duyvil Creek was turbulent and that “the tide runs rapidly under the bridge, alternately both ways, as the tide ebbs and flows”),and Washington, James Birket spoke of Stephenson’s tavern, where “we had a Bass fish taken out of the river by the door before our eyes & some very good oysters &c.  This is one of the best built houses for a tavern I have yet seen in America being all built of good stone and the Apartments large and lofty and a Nobel Prospect down towards the Sound;  Here we cross the River upon a tall bridge made of wood the Inn and this bridge belong to the same person.” (October 12, 1750)  He also noted that the river is “no(t) at all Navigable As there’s abundance of rocks between this bridge and North (Hudson) River.”  Alexander Hamilton stopped at Doughty’s “who keeps a house at Kingsbridge, a fat man much troubled with rheumatism and of a hasty, passionate temper.”  Hamilton too “supped upon roasted oysters, while my landlord roasted ears of corn att another table.  He kept the whole house in a stirr to serve him and yet could not be pleased.” (August 30, 1744)  Hamilton woke the next morning to cross the bridge and witnessed “about 10 Indians fishing for oysters in the gutt before the door (of the tavern).  The wretches waded about stark naked and threw the oysters, as they picked them up with their hands, into baskets that hung upon their left shoulder.  They are a lazy, indolent generation and would rather starve than work att any time, but being unacquainted with our luxury, nature in them has few demands, which are easily satisfied.”  Apparently wandering about in the turbulent water harvesting oysters does not count as work.  I notice Hamilton did not mention collecting his own oysters for dinner.      

        Over the years different innkeepers ran the two separate taverns serving the area (one on either side of the bridge).  In 1697, Clapp mentioned the Kings-bridge, 16 miles away from Manhattan, but does not mention a tavern by name.  The sixteen mile distance (or even eighteen miles sometimes) was a common feature of all descriptions of the route from Clapp’s time to about 1755, when the distance began to be recorded as fifteen miles.  I cannot see how the route could have been longer without meandering in an aimless direction for a mile or two so I chalk the discrepancy up to an error that was blithely reproduced for a half century.  Ames’s Almanac of 1759 lists a “Dickerman” Tavern at Kingsbridge, then Myers 11 miles further on, and New York 4 miles beyond that.  Low’s 1767 Almanac lists “Deyckman’s” tavern at the “Kingsbridge or Prince of Wales Bridge,” again 15 miles from New York, and by 1790 Sharp has replaced Dyckman as the tavern keeper in Low’s Almanac at Kingsbridge.

        Colles’s map of 1792 shows Hyatt’s tavern at the 14 mile mark on the Manhattan side of Kingsbridge while Halsey’s tavern sits on the opposite side.  A littler further down Manhattan, at mile 13, Colles shows a Myer’s tavern along the road.  More taverns are shown further along, but I will discuss them as I pass the areas in which they were located.

  1. 3.Washington, Diary, 19, and 52.

  2. 4.Holbrook, Story of the Post Road, 243.

  3. 5.George W. Nash, M.D., and Hopper Striker Mott, “The Milestones and the Old Post Road,”  Reprinted from the Historical Guide to the City of New York, revised 1915 (City History Club of New York, 1909), 373.

Distance Walked in the Entry: 4.07 miles

Total Distance Walked in New York State:  24.5 miles

Total Distance Walked for this Project (from Boston):  338.1 miles

Distance Remaining to New York (Bowling Green):  10 miles