What’s in a name? Bloomingdale Road vs. Bloomingdale’s

Bloomingdale Road in White Plains is where one can find Bloomingdales’ Department Store. But, contrary to what one might think, it is not the reason for the name of the street. The name comes  from the former psychiatric hospital  Bloomingdale Hospital (or Bloomingdale Asylum) that is now the New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Psychiatry. The original hospital property extended from Westchester Avenue to Heatherbloom Road. Most of the grounds were covered by parkland developed by the Olmsted Company.

The former Bloomingdale Asylum of New York City (NYC) opened in 1821 in upper Manhattan at 116th Street along what was then Bloomingdale Road. This area was known as “Bloomingdale.” The name can be traced back to colonial times when the Dutch occupied Manhattan. Today the street is Broadway and the area is Morningside Heights. The former hospital grounds are now part of Colombia University with Buell Hall as the only remaining building from the former hospital.

In 1868, the NYC hospital bought farmland in White Plains in hopes of opening an annex to their hospital but construction did not begin till 1888 after the NYC hospital closed in 1880. Construction lasted till about 1895.

Bloomingdale derives from the Dutch name Bloemendael and its use goes back to the time when the Dutch occupied New York City (New Amsterdam). The region in Netherlands from which the name originates is where tulips are grown and means “valley of flowers.”

On the other hand, the surname for the Bloomingdale brothers who founded the Bloomingdales’ Department Store derives from German or a Bavarian dialect. Bloomingdale is the Americanized version of the Jewish German surname Blumenthal. In German, it means “flower valley.” Bavaria existed from 1806 to 1918 as a Kingdom and today it is a free state in Germany.

Bloomingdale’s of White Plains opened in 1975 on land leased from the hospital. The first Bloomingdale’s branch in Westchester County was in New Rochelle. A year after, opening its White Plains store, the one in New Rochelle closed. The store expanded in the later part of the 1990’s.DSC02903

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