It’s a colorful and curious name for a 19th century alley, isn’t it?
Maybe it was the dumping ground for animal bones. [In 1934, photo from the NYPL digital collection]
In any event, it was laid out in 1825, according to a 1957 New York Times article, and in apparently was more substantial back then.
“It winds northward from between 41 and 43 Bleecker Street, and turns westward and again northward, coming out at 1 Bond Street and then on to Great Jones Street,” explains another Times article, from 1897.
“The alley is paved and flagged, and has for years, after nightfall, been the haunt of a crowd of idle young fellows, who give the police a good deal of concern.”
[Shinbone Alley today, now just a driveway ending at the back of Bond Street. Paved with Belgian blocks though.]