Mackerelville—isn’t that an illustrious name? Centered at First Avenue and 11th Street, it was the mid–19th century term for today’s East Village.
And you know with a name like that—a mackerel was slang for a procurer or pimp—it had to be an awful place to live.
Second only to the legendary Five Points district in poverty, Mackerelville was a hotbed of gangs, gin mills, and other social ills, as this New York Times letter, from December 17, 1858, explains.
Other articles refer to Mackerelville’s “cholera heaps” and “uneducated denizens.” By the 1870s, it seems, the name was on the outs.
“The locality where the children will be taken from was once well known as Mackerelville, and consists of several squares of tenement buildings, all densely crowded with poor families,” reports an 1873 New York Times article about a charity boat trip.
Tags: Draft Riots 1863, East Village in the 1860s, East Village in the 19th century, Five Points, Mackerelville, poor neighborhoods in New York, slums of New York City, Tompkins Square Park in the 19th century