'I Live on Seaman, Just After Cumming'

Pervy streets at Manhattan's dirty northern end

When people ask Nick Dalton where he lives, he doesn't say "Inwood." Instead, he likes to tell people that he lives near Dyckman and the intersection of Seaman and Cumming. "It's funny, no?" he says.

Sure is, says John V. Barbieri, a full-time attorney who moonlights as Mr. New York Trivia on Manhattan's community-access channel. But he explains that the street names were not strategically placed for the benefit of dirty jokes. "It was by accident, of course," he says. "It didn't mean to be that way."

After digging through public records and scrolling down dozens of Web pages, Mr. New York Trivia found that the streets were named after landowners. The Seaman family came from England in the 17th century. They owned 12,000 acres, but all that's visibly left of their legacy is an old stone archway which is now incorporated into Gallo's Garage around 215th Street. Barbieri couldn't locate much about the Cumming family, which is perhaps why they merit only a one-way street.

Cumming dead-ends at Seaman in a T intersection that features two large apartment buildings and one small church, Holy Trinity Episcopal.

A resident who asked not to be named confesses that living at the intersection is more of a burden than a titillation. "When I say 'Seaman,' " she says, "I always have to spell it."

When she gets deliveries, like the one she recently got from Ikea, the dispatchers always snicker. "Younger people," she says, rolling her eyes, "they always laugh. Older people aren't fazed by this."

On the other hand, Evan Russell, her middle-aged neighbor and a 15-year resident, is so proud of his pervy streets that he takes visitors to the intersection for souvenir snapshots. It was a former girlfriend, he says, who came up with a cute way of describing where he lived: "I live on Seaman, just after Cumming."

He points out neighborhood landmarks as excitedly as an eight-year-old showing off a new tree house. "Just around the corner is Broadyke Meat Market," he says, chuckling, "and over there is Fort Cockhill Park."

 
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