Mid-19th century New York City had its genteel side, but mostly it was a collection of rough edges. One long-forgotten hardscrabble neighborhood was the Piggery District, between Sixth and Eighth Avenues in the West 50s.
It was a dirty, smelly, rocky area of hog yards and shanties housing the poor Irish and Dutch families who eked out a living raising and slaughtering pigs.
No one seemed to care about the Piggery District until Central Park opened in 1859. With the city accelerating northward, the neighborhood was deemed a filthy nuisance, and the Department of Health wanted it gone.
That year, the city sent dozens of armed men into the Piggery District to forcibly shut down the offal-boiling places and round up the pigs.
On at least one occasion, they also ended up ripping apart residents’ homes. A Times article from July 27, 1859 about the raid quoted one woman whose shanty was demolished:
“Very poor revenge,” said she, “to tear down people’s buildings after the pigs is all sent away entirely.”
Here’s another West Side neighborhood that once thrived, then disappeared around the turn of the century.
This Lincoln Center–area neighborhood held out a little longer, but it too is dead and gone.
Tags: 19th century New York City, building Central Park, Central Park 1859, forgotten neighborhoods in New York City, Hell's Kitchen history, New York City 1859, Piggery District, poor farmers in New York City, Seneca Village, shantytowns in Manhattan, West Side manhattan neighborhoods