New York City’s sea mythology street names

Tracing the origins of the city’s street names can be fascinating.

Some come from Dutch place names (“Flushing” is thought to have started out as “Vlissingen”), local landowners (Delancey and Warren), or the nearby landscape (Myrtle Avenue had lots of, well, Myrtle bushes).

A handful have their origins in ancient mythology. Neptune Avenue comes from the Roman god of the seas—very appropriate for the avenue running parallel to the ocean in Coney Island and Brighton Beach.

Nereid Avenue in the Bronx is more mysterious. Nereids are the sea nymphs of Greek mythology, who assisted sailors fighting storms and fishermen desperate for a catch.

Thing is, this avenue, a stop on the 2 and 5 trains, isn’t near the sea. So why does a landlocked slice of the Bronx reference water goddesses?

Apparently a volunteer fire company once existed here, according to a book called History in Asphalt by Bronx historian John McNamara—and the Nereid reference has to do with firefighters using water.

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10 Responses to “New York City’s sea mythology street names”

  1. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    For some reason l always considered the names oceanic, with the names so near the beaches. Never thought otherwise.

  2. David Says:

    New Amsterdam FTW!

  3. James Says:

    What about Mermaid Ave in Coney Island? A creature that has the upper part of a woman and the lower part of a fish certainly is mythological. Mermaids are associated with the Sirens of Greek mythology.

  4. aidel Says:

    Why did you do away with your Twitter button? My followers loved seeing stuff from this blog.

    • wildnewyork Says:

      I didn’t do away with it–I think it’s a wordpress thing. I’ll see what I can do to get it back.

  5. armyintelmom Says:

    Neptune is the Roman god of the sea. Poseidon is his Greek equivalent.

  6. New York City's sea mythology street names « Ephemeral New York | HelloBlvd Cities | Hello Blvd | HB | HBC Says:

    […] New York City's sea mythology street names « Ephemeral New York Tags: amsterdam, avenue, beaches, bronx, change, ephemeral-new-york, july-28, july-29, […]

  7. Jeff Black Says:

    It’s always so interesting to find pieces of history like this that explain away mysteries. I’ve never even heard of Nereids before.

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