Noho’s wonderfully named Shinbone Alley

It’s a colorful and curious name for a 19th century alley, isn’t it? 

Perhaps this tiny lane—which starts on the north side of Bleecker Street east of Lafayette Street and ends about 50 feet later—was a rough place where you got your shins kicked in.

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.]

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7 Responses to “Noho’s wonderfully named Shinbone Alley”

  1. RAB Says:

    You left out the connection to archy and mehitabel!

  2. Nabe News: July 26 - Bowery Boogie | A Lower East Side Chronicle Says:

    […] look at Shinbone Alley on Lafayette, just north of Bleecker [Ephemeral […]

  3. Shinbone Alley | yama's life… Says:

    […] Shinbone Alley […]

  4. Ed Koster Says:

    I worked in the area in 1946 and passed shinbone going to work, Just had to look it up again thanks for the info and photgraphs.Ed Koster

    • Kt. Says:

      I was also searching “Shinbone Alley”. Thank you for the photos. But, I have not seen a reference to “Blue eyed Sally, she lives way down on Shinbone Alley” from Bob Wills’ song; “Stay All Night, (Stay a Little Longer”)

  5. Glenn Krasner Says:

    In the Spike Lee movie, “Mo’ Better Blues”, according to IMBD, the scene where Spike Lee and Denzel Washington are brutally assaulted by Samuel L. Jackson and the other bookie’s collector, was shot in Shinbone Alley. It appears that the nightclub scenes were shot in the Cherry Lane Theater on Commerce Street in the West Village. Know the street grid pretty well (used to be an inspector for the city with respect to buildings), but had to look up Shinbone Alley on this site through the internet, because had never heard of it, even though it turns out I walked by it a million times.

  6. Joe Says:

    Anyone have pix of shinbone alley from bleeker 20 or more years ago? My grandfather had a machine shop at 37 bleeker with a sign in the alley.

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