About Murray Hill
A brief history of Murray Hill
Though it is now a busy neighborhood in Midtown Manhattan, during colonial days Murray Hill was a largely unsettled area known as Inclenberg. The neighborhood as we know it today has its roots in a large farm built by Robert Murray, a wealthy Quaker merchant, and his wife, Mary Lindley Murray, in the 1750’s. Robert and Mary Murray’s farm stayed in the family for generations. Their descendants, alarmed when industry began to move uptown, drew up the Murray Hill Restrictive Agreement in 1847, barring business and commerce from encroaching on their lands.
Growth and development
The Murray heirs limited growth to residential building just as the opening of railroads on Fourth (later Park) Avenue in the early 1850’s brought public transportation to the area. The results were immediate and Murray Hill quickly became a fashionable neighborhood housing some of the city’s wealthiest families.
Businesses continued to move uptown and by the early 20th century Madison and Fifth Avenues, streets not covered by the Restrictive Agreement, were home to department stores and office buildings. The completion of Grand Central Station in 1913 brought even more commercial building to the area. By the mid-20th century many of the increasingly valuable brownstones in the residential district were converted into offices or multi-family dwellings.
Murray Hill today
Today Murray Hill’s history can be traced through the many buildings granted landmark status by New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission: the elegant brownstones of the mid-19th century, the transportation hub which brought both residents and businesses to the neighborhood, and the cultural institutions which serve the city as a whole.
Historic district boundaries
The Murray Hill Historic District, as defined by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, extends, north to south, from East 38th Street down to East 35th Street, and from east to west, a single block between Lexington and Park Avenues.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission created the Murray Hill Historic District in 2002, drawing the boundaries to create two areas of protected historic buildings as seen below in red. In 2004 the Commission extended the district, granting historic designation to an additional 12 buildings and thereby connecting the two separate sections created in the 1994 designation.
Where is Murray Hill?
This project uses a broad definition of Murray Hill which extends outside of the Landmark Preservation Commission’s official historic district designation. For our purposes, the neighborhood is bound by East 42nd Street to the north, East 34th Street to the south, the East River to the east, and Fifth Avenue to the west. Within these boundaries lie several buildings designated with Landmark status based on their individual architectural and historical merits. These structures include Grand Central Terminal, the Empire State Building, the New York Public Library, and the Pierpont Morgan Library.