What happened to Paradise Square?

That very auspicious name was given to the neighborhood built in the early 19th century over the site of Collect Pond.

A pristine body of water in colonial times, Collect Pond was basically an open sewer by 1800. It was located near today’s Centre and Lafayette Streets.

The city filled the pond in 1811, and Paradise Square sprang up over it, according to the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.

But Paradise Square only lasted a few decades. The water table was so high, the neighborhood began sinking—and emitting a rancid smell, prompting affluent families to leave.

By the 1830s it was known as Five Points, the notorious slum that was a breeding ground for crime, gangs, and disease.

The Paradise name lived on until the early 1900s in the form of Paradise Park, as seen in the NYPL postcard above. It was renamed Columbus Park in 1911.

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17 Responses to “What happened to Paradise Square?”

  1. What happened to Paradise Square? | New York Blogs Says:

    […] http://upcoming.current.com/nyblogs?format=rss […]

  2. Nabe News: June 21 - Bowery Boogie | A Lower East Side Chronicle Says:

    […] life of Paradise Square, which was built on top of the Collect Pond [Ephemeral […]

  3. Terry1 Says:

    I’m a bit confused–wasn’t it Mulberry Bend Park prior to becoming Columbus Park?

  4. wildnewyork Says:

    My understanding is that it went from Paradise Park to Columbus Park. I’m going by some old articles in the New York Times archive. It seems like Mulberry Bend Park may have been an informal name or a separate yet adjacent park. Lets see what else I can find…

  5. Joe Ski Says:

    There never was a “Paradise Park”. Prodded by Jacob Riis, the city, in 1895, seized private property and demolished the tenements located in what was left of the infamous Mulberry Bend. The park, built on the location and opened in 1897, was named Mulberry Bend Park. It was renamed Columbus Park in 1911.


  6. wildnewyork Says:

    The public record begs to differ. A few examples:





  7. Terry1 Says:

    Yes, but all of those are pre-95. I’ll bet it was paradise park pre-95, Mulberry Bend 95-11, and Columbus thereafter.

    Here’s the public record on Mulberry Bend: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&rls=com.microsoft%3A*&q=site%3Anytimes.com+%22mulberry+bend+park%22&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=

    Most of those articles are between 95-11,a lthough one is from 94–interestingly, it is about protesting the condition of the park.

  8. wildnewyork Says:

    Thanks. That’s probably why the postcard included both names, Paradise Park and Mulberry Bend.

  9. TJ Connick Says:

    Reading about Poverty Hollow and bumped into Paradise Park. The latter seemed to be derived from Paradise Square and was considered synonymous. Must have surely been a sarcastic self-infliction, and described a specific plot of public space near, but not within, confines of Mulberry Bend, later Columbus, Park. Much smaller, it was on the other side of Worth and bit up the block towards Centre. It’s mapped pretty clearly, but not named, on old atlases. Without extensive amounts of excavation, managed to find a description using the name and identifying the location written in 1851.

    I see internet writing that implies that Paradise Square pre-dated descent into Five Points. Very hard to imagine that it was some sort of high-toned, earnest moniker. Contemporary accounts and others long in print suggest the district was a foul, unwholesome situation before the warrens of miserable houses went up to shelter the powerless.

    Paradise Square/Park was the focus of serious missionary effort by Methodist Episcopal outfit commencing around 1849. Interesting to note that Methodist “revivalist” outdoor preaching had been done for generations in Sheffield (England) in – you guessed it – Paradise Square.

    The name spread beyond the confines of the Square (really a Triangle) and like a lot of other squares in town, gave its name to the surrounding district. Tammany types – like their pals in Poverty Hollow – used Paradise Park to describe a neighborhood, not merely a small, fenced-in park. I’m inclined to think that Paradise Park superseded Five Points in speech at an earlier date than in print, and we may be indulging a bit of imaginary conjecture to reverse the sequence.

  10. When the Straw Hat Riots rocked 1920s New York « Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] kids down around Mulberry Bend got a jump on the tradition, however, and began grabbing hats off factory workers’ heads and […]

  11. When Canal Street in Soho had a “Suicide Slip” « Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Street really was a canal back in the early 19th century; it carried filthy water from polluted Collect Pond, near today’s Lafayette Street, and emptied it into the […]

  12. erictb Says:

    Paradise Park was the little triangular park where the Manhattan Supreme Court sits today. It was diagonally on the other side of the Five Points intersection from the Bend. http://nyc-architecture.com/SCC/insmap2.jpg

    The park on the Bend was named after “Mulberry Bend”, and “Five Points” before becoming Columbus Park.

  13. erictb Says:

    Another place the confusion could have arisen is that Riis *did* call it “ANOTHER Paradise Park” when planning it. That was for comparison only; it was never actually called that.
    (See also Anbinder, “Five Points” p.22; on Google Books).

  14. Oliver Says:

    Manhattan’s Collect Pond and London’s River Fleet: both large, fine supplies of fresh water which were sadly allowed to become open sewers, before disappearing in the 1800s.

  15. How Five Points became the city’s worst slum | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Soon prostitution and rum shops arrived, followed by gang-related crime. Anyone who could move out of what was once called the Collect neighborhood did, and those who remained lived in Five Points, a wretched slum that persisted through most of the 19th century. […]

  16. Kalpana Says:

    Paradise Park was opposite the bend. Check this out. http://newyorklookingback.blogspot.com/2011/03/origins-of-paradise-park.html

  17. What remains of an 1881 bank at Mulberry Bend | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Number 28 Mulberry was once the doorway for the Banco Italia, which in 1881 served the growing Italian immigrant community pouring into Mulberry Bend. […]

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