Jones vs. Great Jones: Which street came first?

Jones Street, a one-block stretch from Bleecker to West Fourth in the West Village, has the head start. It was named after a doctor, Gardner Jones.

Then, in 1789, a lawyer named Samuel Jones—Gardner Jones’ brother-in-law—gave the city some land, stipulating that the street built there be named for him.

Having two Jones Streets was seriously confusing, but reportedly neither Jones would budge and change the name. So Samuel Jones supposedly suggested his street be given the “great” prefix. The city agreed with his humble solution.

Another theory has it that Great Jones Street became, well, great, because it was wider than the first Jones Street.

Adding to the confusion is Great Jones Alley, off of Great Jones Street. Supposedly the term “jones,” as in a drug addiction, comes from the addicts who used to congregate in the alley.

The Urban Dictionary, however, credits “jonesin” to Great Jones Street itself and the drug culture that once thrived there.

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8 Responses to “Jones vs. Great Jones: Which street came first?”

  1. Alice Beebe Says:

    I never knew that. Thx

  2. Jimbo Says:


    Jones for drug usage was used long before there were drug addicts on Jones Alley.

    They arrived in the 80s. Jones was popular by the 1950s, a the latest.

  3. BrooksofSheffield Says:

    One of my favorite all-time stories of petty, New Yorker one-upsmanship.

  4. wildnewyork Says:

    I’m surprised the descendants of Gardner Jones didn’t petition to have his street renamed “Greater Jones” in response. . . .

  5. Rinky Says:

    There is a song by a band called The Crowd Scene called Great Jones Street, it’s pretty good

  6. History of NYC Streets: The Battle Between Jones & Great Jones Streets | Untapped Cities Says:

    […] 1789, a prominent New York lawyer Samuel Jones donated a stretch of land in the East Village to the city. Nothing comes without a cost, however, as Jones stipulated that […]

  7. Why Manhattan has two streets named Beekman | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] such a small strip of land, Manhattan has a lot of duplicated street names. Think Jones Street and Great Jones Street, Washington Street and Washington Place, and Greenwich Street and Greenwich […]

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