Bond Street: chic and exclusive in the 1830s

Noho’s Bond Street is trendy—just as it was 170 years ago.

That’s when the city’s wealthy residents relocated from bustling, overcrowded downtown to this newly built street, a two-block stretch east of Broadway.

“In the 1830s, Bond Street was one of the city’s most fashionable. Lined with Greek Revival–style houses, it was a secluded, peaceful street whose most celebrated resident, Albert Gallatin, lived at No. 1,” writes Gerard H. Wolfe in New York: A Guide to the Metropolis, from 1983.

Bond Street was surrounded by luxury, particularly Colannade Row, the nine Greek Revival marble mansions around the corner on the elegant cul-de-sac Lafayette Place (now Lafayette Street).

Theaters and chic stores popped up nearby on Broadway. Bond Street “swells” hung around, visiting young women from well-off families.

But of course, Bond Street’s moment in the sun had to end. After the middle of the 19th century, light industry began moving in, and the wealthy moved northward.

Today, a few of the old Greek Revival houses survive. But it’s mostly cast-iron loft buildings for manufacturing, plus modern glass monstrosities.

At least the Belgian Block pavement hasn’t been replaced.

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8 Responses to “Bond Street: chic and exclusive in the 1830s”

  1. Dave Says:

    During the mid-century period of decline, Bond St. was home to one of the most celebrated murders of 19th-c. NYC, the bloody killing of a dentist named Burdell in his office, love triangle (sort of) and all:

  2. T.J. Connick Says:

    Too much history relating to the street to pack into a nutshell, but the city’s transit systems figure in a couple of obscure items that are worthy of our attention.

    In their delightful, unmatched work Gotham, Burrows and Wallace tell us that the swells of Bond Street gave themselves a rough commute when they moved so far north of their downtown offices, stores, wharves, and other places of plunder. New York saw its first omnibus to accommodate them.

    “Seating a dozen or more passengers, and drawn by huffing teams of two or four horses, the first of these boatlike vehicles began rumbling along Broadway from Bowling Green to Bond Street in 1829…Although ombibus means ‘for all’ in Latin, this was class, not mass, transit. It cost twelve and a half cents for a one-way trip down to Wall Street, which was cheaper than the hacks but well beyond the reach of common laborers earning a dollar a day.”

    The second relates to the dawn of our subway. After a long period of dithering, the city cut Lafayette Street through an 80-foot swath of Bond Street, with the four-track tunnel for the city’s first subway line downstairs. At first called New Elm Street, and after some aldermanic thumb-wrestling, Dewey Avenue, by the time the pokey project drew to a close, it extended the name of the Revolutionary War hero along its entire length.

    In an April, 1898 episode that unexpectedly exposed a bad memory from darker days, the street was put through the intersection of Centre and Reade streets. The work required that a wall be removed from the right of way. Now on view for all New York to see, was the great water tank, built as part of the Trojan Horse for his financial schemes by the con artist who put the later Bond Street pirates in the shade: Aaron Burr. His water-supplying private firm, the Manhattan Company, did little to quench New York’s thirst, but thanks to Burr-authored provisions hidden in the legislation that bestowed its charter, left us with the albatross of what was at first its own bank, and now, after nearly a quarter millennium of spirited hijinks, is JP Morgan Chase.

    • T.J. Connick Says:

      Sorry for introducing typo in the Gotham quote. I don’t know what ombibus means in Latin, but with a z in front, I’ve heard it used to describe transport to and from the many garden spots in the Garden State.

    • trilby1895 Says:

      Thank you so much for this fascinating bit of New York City’s history!

  3. wildnewyork Says:

    Very cool, thanks. I love the image of this hulking vehicle going from Bond Street to Wall Street carrying wealthy New Yorkers on some very bumpy roads no doubt.

  4. Seen and Heard Around the Village: 5.2.11 – 5.6.11 Says:

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