The name Bloomingdale has long been associated with this neighborhood, and seemed a fitting term to apply to this little pocket of greenery.
Back when New York was the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam, a large swath of the west side of Manhattan was referred to as Bloemendaal, or “valley of flowers.”
The British Anglicized this to Bloomingdale, and applied the same name to the early road that became today’s Broadway.
The name remained in use for hundreds of years, although the precise area it referred to changed over time — a map from 1870 shows a Bloomingdale Square park filling the space between Eighth and Ninth Avenues from 53rd to 57th Streets, while the whole Upper West Side from 72nd to 116th Streets is labeled Bloomingdale Village, although in other sources that name is more specifically associated with the area between 96th and 110th Streets.
The name started to fall out of popular use in the later half of 1800s due to its association with the Bloomingdale Insane Asylum, which occupied much of the area that is now home to St. John’s Cathedral, Columbia University, Barnard, and the Manhattan School of Music.
The small triangle between 106th Street, Broadway, and West End Avenue was converted into a park in 1895, first called Schulyer Square, then in 1907 renamed to Bloomingdale Square, before acquiring its current name Straus Park when dedicated to Isadore and Ida Straus in 1913 following their deaths on the Titanic.
(The neighborhood name has no connection to the store named Bloomingdale’s, which is named after the Bloomingdale brothers who founded it in 1861.)
For more information on the early history of Bloomingdale, see:
- Bloomingdale Village: Digging Deep into Our Neighborhood’s Early Days
- Harsenville to Carmansville: The Lost Villages of the Upper West Side
- Bloomingdale Neighborhood History Group at bloomingdalehistory.com
- Bloomingdale Neighborhood History Group at upperwestsidehistory.org
- Neighborhood Nomenclature at Columbus Amsterdam BID
- Timeline of Historic Bloomingdale at Columbus Amsterdam BID