When Second Avenue was known as Lovers’ Lane

Does the lower end of Second Avenue, in the East Village, make you feel especially romantic?

SecondavenueloverslaneDidn’t think so. But over 100 years ago, the stretch from 17th Street to Houston Street was considered so scenic and lovely, it was actually known as the “East Side Lovers’ Lane.”

“It is interesting to note that never before has the term ‘Lovers’ Lane’ been given to so wide a thoroughfare as Second Avenue,” wrote The New York Times in 1911, in an article about plans to widen what was then a Polish and Hungarian immigrant par residential, part commercial avenue.

Secondavenueloverslane1868“If Second Avenue is a lovers’ lane, doubtless  the removal of the sidewalk encroachments would furnish more room for happy couples to promenade and contribute to its gayety.”

New York has had several Lover’s Lanes: Maiden Lane may have been one in Dutch colonial days; Central Park and Riverside Park also had tree-lined paths designated for couples. And Brooklyn Heights’ Love Lane has a sweet story behind it.

But back to Second Avenue. In 1942, a neighborhood group led by a minister called on the city to make Second Avenue a lovers’ lane again by planting trees.

Secondavenueloverslane2013The minister “hastened to add that he was looking for civic improvement, not for a new trysting place,” another Times article noted.

Trees were brought in, but it doesn’t seem like the lovey-dovey vibe caught on ever again.

[Middle image: Second Avenue at 11th Street in 1868; from the NYPL. Bottom: Second Avenue looking south from 14th Street]

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5 Responses to “When Second Avenue was known as Lovers’ Lane”

  1. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    The park area around 15th to 17th Sts & 2nd Ave might pass as a Lover’s Lane. I’ve seen couples there many a time and in the 1970s was a notorious gay pick up place in the night time.

  2. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Stuyvesant Square is really sweet. But although I have great affection for Second Avenue, that’s about the only stretch that makes me think of romance!

  3. Linkage: A Murdoch Townhouse Loan; Construction Worker Dies In Fall – insiderater.com Says:

    […] [Capital NY] · Despite financial problems, bike share programs continue to expand [AC] · When the East Village’s Second Avenue was known as Lovers’ Lane […]

  4. vastlycurious.com Says:

    This is so interesting. Really like the postcard once again!

  5. An 1838 East Village townhouse’s radical history | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] elite Second Avenue didn’t last long. By 1844 the merchant owner of the house declared bankruptcy, and after a few more owners and […]

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