A long-gone Chelsea alley called Franklin Terrace

West26thstreetsignWhile flipping through a book of New York City street maps from 1996, I noticed a section of West 26th Street off Ninth Avenue marked as “Franklin Terrace.”

It’s nowhere near Franklin Street in Tribeca. And it doesn’t seem related to nearby London Terrace, developed in 1845 as a residential stretch on Ninth Avenue at 23rd Street and now the name of the famous apartment complex on the same site.

FranklinterracemapFranklin Terrace was new to me. But a little research revealed that old New York did have a tiny courtyard off the south side of West 26th Street with this name.

“Here is a whole community of five or six houses with a little yard and a fence around it, all its own, in one of the most congested sections of the city, and the best part of it all is that a whole house of eight or nine rooms may be had for $30 t o $35 a month!” states a 1915 article in the New York Press.


The piece puts Franklin Terrace at number 364 West 26th Street, and describes it as a “blind street.”


“An ordinary gateway with a small iron gate leads to it. There is a paved yard with a row of old-time dwellings one one side and a couple of old-time trees that persist in bloom” (below left).

Franklinterracemcny1900Franklin Terrace dates to the 19th century, as the article makes note of the lack of “modern” conveniences. “Gas and hot and cold water, perhaps, but no electric lights, steam heat, or furnace,” the writer adds.

When did it fade into history? It’s unclear.

A 1925 New York Times short mentions that the houses here were being redeveloped and modernized “with  exteriors of old English type architecture with court and gardens (below right).”


Within four decades, Franklin Terrace was gone. Since 1962, the 10-building Penn South cooperative, from 23rd to 28th Streets between Eighth and Ninth Avenues, with its lawns and playground, has occupied the site.

Why a book of tourist street maps from 1996 lists long-demapped Franklin Terrace is a mystery.

[Third image: New York Press article, 1915; fourth image: New York Times, 1912; fifth image: MCNY Collections Portal; sixth image: NYPL Digital Gallery]

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13 Responses to “A long-gone Chelsea alley called Franklin Terrace”

  1. Joe R Says:

    This is very interesting. I live in that area and there exists an “alley” there connecting 25th and 26th Streets, running alongside a playground in mid-block. Could this be a remnant of Franklin Terrace?

  2. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Thanks Joe R. I saw that playground when I researched this, but I don’t think the little lane alongside it was once part of Franklin Terrace—which is described as only going halfway down the south side of 26th Street. But perhaps the right old map will reveal more info.

    • Joe R Says:

      You’re right about my first notion re the passageway on 26th Street. I just spoke with an old timer in my building who lived on 9th and 26th before the Penn South Houses were built. He told me that Franklin Terrace was right behind the properties that faced 9th Avenue. He also confirmed that Franklin Terrace didn’t run all the way to 25th – he said a corner butcher shop building blocked that way.

      • ephemeralnewyork Says:

        I’m thrilled that there’s still someone around who remembers Franklin Terrace. Penn South has been there for 50 years now.

  3. Nancy R Says:

    Both my maternal grandparents grew up in this area. According to the 1900 census my grandmother lived on 1 Franklin Terrace. Thank you so much for providing information and pictures.

  4. Welcome to Poverty Gap, a 19th century slum | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Far West Chelsea has had a colorful past, its small alleys and enclaves long forgotten, like Franklin Terrace. […]

  5. Coleen McDonald Says:

    thanks for this article. I am researching my family history and found on the 1880 census that my great grandfather lived at 366 Franklin Terrace West 26th street. These photos will make a great addition to my ancestry research.

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      You’re welcome! Franklin Terrace was fun to research, a lost nook of the NYC streetscape.

  6. Coleen McDonald Says:

    I am still researching the places they lived but it looks like my great grandfather’s parents lived here for a long time. Amazing! Keep up the research my family has a long history in old New York so your research was very helpful. Thanks again

  7. Derrick Schermerhorn-Schuyler Says:

    My grandfather lived in Franklin Terrace when it was torn down as part of the development of the Penn South complex. Most of the residents moved into Penn South when it was done. Most of the blocks south of Franklin Terrace turned into Penn South were really run down already except for the beautiful Greek church which was torn down and replaced by a new one. They tore down the church to permit a winding road mid block. The tall residental/commercial buildings along Eighth and Ninth were torn down too.

  8. Simon Says:

    I have pictures of Franklin Terrace in a family album as my grandparents lived there for a number of years I don’t know if they lived there when it was torn down. I remember they told me that it was just a few blocks from the infamous “Poverty Gap” neighborhood which was one of the worst neighborhoods in the city at the time which was torn down to build a soccer field and the post office building. I have old pictures of that too.

  9. Joan Coles`` Says:

    I so enjoy your pictures and information about this old ‘timey’ New York. Not always pleasant but interesting and makes one think how difficult times were (and are) for some of us. Thank you for your contribution to our education.

  10. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Thank you for your kind words!

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