Where was Lower Manhattan’s Golden Hill?

JohnwilliamstreetsignThere’s an incline along William Street, in the Financial District, that peaks where it intersects with John Street. Could it be a remnant of the colonial-era enclave of Golden Hill?

This was once the highest point at the tip of Manhattan—a place of an “abundant crop of grain, which it said waved gracefully in response to the gentle breeze and looked, in truth, like a hill of gold,” states an 1898 New York Times article.

BattleofgoldenhillpaintingGolden Hill isn’t only remembered for its pretty view; it was also the site of a bloody rebellion that led to the Revolutionary War.

On January 19, 1770, tensions were high between many New York residents and British soldiers. Colonists had constructed several liberty poles, signs of defiance against the Redcoats.

After the British destroyed a liberty pole in City Hall park, a confrontation ensued between soldiers and citizens several days later at Golden Hill. There, the British charged citizens with bayonets, wounding several.

“This is the first blood spilled during the American Revolution, two month before the Boston Massacre,” reports Old World NYC. “The clash would roll back and forth finally leading to a standoff . . . but the war had begun.”

Check out these other pieces from New York’s Revolutionary War past.

[Right: Battle of Golden Hill by Charles MacKubin Lefferts]

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4 Responses to “Where was Lower Manhattan’s Golden Hill?”

  1. Joe R Says:

    Gold Street is right next to William Street and I suppose that’s how it got its name. The next block over between John and Fulton Streets is Cliff Street. That name also seems to imply the one-time presence of a hill there.

  2. wildnewyork Says:

    Ah, if course, Cliff Street!

  3. NYI Headquarters, Site of First Battle of Revolutionary War | @nyinternet Says:

    […] recent piece in Ephemeral New York finds that incline along William Street in the Financial District is not only the best place in […]

  4. Narrating the City (Past and Present) - Education & Culture Says:

    […] what a difference in Golden Hill three centuries make! A post on the Ephemeral New York blog—describing the pre-Revolutionary War skirmish called the Battle of Golden Hill—links to an […]

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