Beate Caspari-Rosen, MD
(1910 - 1995)
285 Riverside Drive
When I arrived in New York in 1935 my husband toured me around New
York City. When we walked along Riverside Drive I vowed to myself that
one day we would live on this avenue. I had never seen such a beautiful
street. It stretched from West 72nd street along the Hudson River to
125 street. Robert Moses, the park commissioner, had redesigned this
park. He moved the railroad tracks that bordered the river underground.
This change made it possible to walk close to the river. Beautiful
trees shaded paths that wound through hilly land natural rock formations
were left in place where possible.
But we first made our home in Brooklyn,
where my two children were born. Shortly after the United States entered
World War II in December 1941 my husband joined
the medical corps and I felt I stranded, alone in Brooklyn. It was then that
I started to look for an apartment in Manhattan. Apartments were plentiful and
I finally chose one on Riverside, Drive, 285, located on the corner of 101 street.
The rooms were large and had high ceilings; most faced the river. My children
and I were fascinated by the traffic on the river which was lively day and night.
Warships lay at anchor, oil barges went back and forth among smaller boats which
went up river to Albany. It was an exciting place to live.
But slowly the neighborhood
changed. After the war, the streets started to become unsafe. No longer
could one sit on a bench in the park after dark and enjoy the evening
breeze carrying the sweet smell of flowering linden trees that lined
the promenade. By 1960 streets in my neighborhood on the Upper West Side of Manhattan
became unsafe during daytime too. Handbags were torn from women’s’ arms
and children were assaulted on their way home
One day in 1962 or was it 1963, I
returned earlier than usual from work in the afternoon. When I opened
the door to my apartment the lights in the corridor were on. I did
not think anything about it, but when I reached my bedroom I was surprised
to see two men
there. Thinking that they were some new assistants of the superintendent
I asked innocently: "What are you doing here?" Then
it dawned on me that they had broken into our apartment. I ran screaming
along the lengthy corridor, opened the door which led into the building’s
foyer, and, since we lived on the main floor, called for help. The
doorman heard me and called the superintendent, a fierce man from Malta,
who, with revolver drawn, entered the apartment, while the doorman
called the police. No one was in the apartment. We found my jewelry
and some silverware strewn along the corridor carpet, over I which
they had evidently tripped. Valises were neatly packed with some bottles
of wine and with silverware; the thieves had left them behind in their
hasty escape through windows overlooking a back courtyard. I suddenly
remembered our dog. We found her locked in the bath room. She was terrified
and never again barked when strangers rang the bell, but instead crept
under the bed and hid.
The police came hours later. Nothing had been
stolen. We were told that there were so many break-ins in our neighborhood
that unless you were to say "robbery
in progress" so that there was a chance to catch the thieves it
was hopeless for the police to search for them.
We had an alarm system
installed which would sound at the most inconvenient times, for example,
during thunderstorms or when heavy trucks passed by.
We left New York around 1970. The children were grown up and we, who
had vowed never to leave the city, because we loved it dearly, moved
to New Haven, Connecticut.