Whatever happened to lovely Livingston Street?

LivingstonplacemapBrooklyn Heights still has its Livingston Street, named after the old New York family that counts 19th century state governor Hamilton Fish as a descendent.

But what about Manhattan’s Livingston Place—a pretty little London-esque lane (seen here on a midcentury map) which served as a bookend for the east side of Stuyvesant Square since 1836?

Livingstonplace1939nyplLovely Livingston Place lost its original moniker in the 1950s, when the city decided to rename the road, which stretched two narrow blocks from 15th to 17th Streets alongside Beth Israel Hospital.

The new name: Perlman Place. Nathan D. Perlman was a judge as well as vice-president of Beth Israel who died in 1952.

Plans to honor Perlman by putting his name on this picturesque lane (here in the 1930s) was not universally well received.

“In a city as rich with history as New York street names should not be changed without overwhelmingly good reason, long consideration, and ample public debate,” The New York Times weighed in in 1954. “Such changes are confusing to the public, they make maps obsolete, they break the traditions of the past.”

Livingstonplace2013

The City Council approved the name change anyway—and Manhattan lost a slender connection to its colonial beginnings.

[Middle photo: NYPL Digital Collection]

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4 Responses to “Whatever happened to lovely Livingston Street?”

  1. Ricky Says:

    It is such a lovely little street with the park on one side, a pretty church and school with the schoolyard on the other.

  2. Claire 'Word by Word' Says:

    It does look very Londonesque. What a pity the name had to change.

    Street names and schools are all about historic personalities here in France and I often think of it as the alternative school curriculum as nearly every street is named after a person in history. When I first arrived we lived in Boulevard Doctor Schweitzerand now we live in Avenue Jean Dalmas Martyrs de la Résistance.

    The schools are similarly named after important (predominantly male historical figures) although the high school my children attend (& will attend) is a notable exception, because when it was being constructed they discovered the bones of an unidentified creature and in an unusual break with the past they named the school Rocher du Dragon. My son who starts there in September next year, is obsessed with dinosaurs loves it and no doubt will dream of those slumbering sub-terranean creatures when he should be studying.

  3. Force Tube Avenue Says:

    I went to the “old” Stuyvesant High in the 1970’s, which is between First Avenue and Perlman Place. I had no idea of the street’s original name. Many thanks for the new bit of New York trivia!

  4. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    You’re welcome FTA.

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