Mulberry Street’s grim 18th century nickname

Today’s Mulberry Street is a slender little strip of restaurants, cafes, and boutiques—part trendy Nolita, part Little Italy tourist district.

MulberrystreetsignBut it was a very different scene on Mulberry in the late 18th century.

The southern end of the street abutted Collect Pond, once a source of fresh water but by now the site of tanneries, pottery works, and other noxious industries that needed access to water.

One of those industries was the slaughterhouse business. After one opened in the 1770s, others followed, to the point where Mulberry Street was known as “Slaughterhouse Street.”

Bullsheadtavernbowery

The rollicking Bull’s Head Tavern, on the Bowery (parts of which have been recently uncovered underground), catered to the butchers and cattle men who worked in the abattoirs on and near Mulberry Street.

This circa-1800 sketch of the tavern and an adjoining pen belonging to a slaughterhouse provides an idea of what Slaughterhouse Street looked like. (What it smelled like, one can only imagine!)

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3 Responses to “Mulberry Street’s grim 18th century nickname”

  1. Linkage: Touring 4 World Trade Center; Building Under The High Line – insiderater.com Says:

    […] It’s officially winter, because the Rockefeller Center ice rink has opened [NY1] · Why Mulberry Street was known as “Slaughterhouse Street” [ENY] · A sneak peek at Silverstein’s under-construction 4 World Trade Center [TRD] […]

  2. Brian Says:

    Most slaughter houses don’t smell foul. In fact, they’ve typically got a sweet scent from all the blood. Of course, back then, who knows what the sanitary conditions were like, or what they did with the leftovers…

  3. The bloody past of Manhattan’s West 39th Street | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Row,” the street was the center of Manhattan’s slaughterhouse district (previously on Mulberry Street), where cattle delivered to the city via ferry or rail line were penned in stockyards before being […]

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