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Nyack People & Places: Bridge Street

by Mike Hays
Old Nyack maps show an essential bridge where Nyack Brook cuts across Main Street. No photos exist of this small bridge. Almost 150 years ago, a single block of housing was developed on a new street running perpendicular to Main Street at the bridge crossing. Aptly named Bridge Street, the row housing still exists.
Bridge Street, Nyack, architecture, Onderdonk
John V. Onderdonk learned carpentry and building while in New York City is credited with developing Bridge Street. His first big building venture in Nyack was Onderdonk Row, the beautiful stretch of eight mansard-roofed buildings that still stand today on Main Street between Bridge and Park. In the 1870s Onderdonk acquired land on what was to become Bridge Street and began work on these ten row houses. The first house was sold in 1875.
Row houses, more often found in cities, were an unusual architectural choice to build in Nyack. They can also be found on School Street in Upper Nyack, close to Peterson’s Boat Yard.
Cottage Row features 2 ½ story buildings with raised basements and covered porches. The windows and doors are arranged in a three-bay rhythm, which repeats across the row. Double brackets support the cornices and three slender posts hold up each porch. The houses are intentionally set back from the street forming a small front yard. Of the original ten row houses, numbers 8 and 9 (from Main Street) were pushed out to the sidewalk changing the row symmetry. S & Co. architects did a fantastic renovation of the eighth house around 2000.

The Housewife Horsewhipped Local Developer

After developing Bridge Street, John V. Onderdonk earned a reputation as an irascible local figure. He is the subject of many curious tales including being horsewhipped by two women for publishing stories about their constable husbands.
He was also involved in the Hesdra family will dispute to favor his management of the Nyack water reservoir owned by the Hesdras, and for being a temperance fanatic. John V. Onderdonk died in 1887.

In 1960, the Onderdonk block housed many essential businesses, including Liggett Drugs and Brown and Son Furniture. The block of buildings was constructed in the 1870s by John V. Onderdonk. Photo Credit:

Onderdonk Row on Main Street in 2017

Michael Hays is a 30-year resident of the Nyacks. He grew up the son of a professor and nurse in Champaign, Illinois. He has recently retired from a long career in educational publishing with Prentice-Hall and McGraw-Hill. He is an avid cyclist, amateur historian and photographer, gardener, and dog walker. He has enjoyed more years than he cares to count with his beautiful companion, Bernie Richey. You can follow him on Instagram as UpperNyackMike.

Nyack People & Places features photos and profiles of citizens and scenes near Nyack, NY. Sponsored by Weld Realty.

Photo Credit: Mike Hays

Nyack Farmer's Market

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