What remains of the East River’s long-gone slips

 Slipold2015Old maps of Lower Manhattan (like the one below, from 1842) list them: the many slips created along the East River to facilitate ship transportation in a city dependent on maritime trade.

 From Gouverneur Street to Whitehall Street, 12 slips offered “access to the shoreline by small craft such as ferries and farmers’ market boats,” states oldstreets.com. “There were markets at most of the slips at one time or another.”


Today, some exist in name only. Eleven were gone by the middle of the 19th century, early victims of the city’s valuable real estate. The last one disappeared by 1900.

Slipmarket2015“It was the need for additional land that caused the passing of New York’s historic slips,” states a 1924 New York Times article.

“Those alleyways of water were two blocks long and as many wide, flanked about by rocking wharves at which tied up the small boats belonging to mother vessels further out, or the mother vessels themselves if not too large.”

“And with the passing of these slips passed also the romance of the clippers, our country’s first sailing vessels.”

What wonderful names they had! Some were derived from prominent Dutch-born landowners, like Coenradt and Antjie Ten Eyck (Coentje—later Coenties—Slip).


Others were named for the businesses nearby, like Coffee House Slip, once at the end of Wall Street where several coffee houses had popped up in the late 18th century (above, in a New York Times sketch).


There was also Fly Market Slip, a corruption of the Dutch vly, meaning valley, according to oldstreets.com.

The rest were Gouverneur, Rutgers, Pike, Market, Catherine, James, Peck, Burling, and finally, Old Slip.

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14 Responses to “What remains of the East River’s long-gone slips”

  1. Mark Says:

    The Dutch word for valley is “vallei”, quite possibly spelled “valley” back in the day. It certainly wasn’t “vly”.

  2. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Okay, I’m just going by the explanation from this source. They say vly means valley, or low-lying area: http://oldstreets.com/index.asp?letter=F

  3. Linkage: Soccer Debuts in The Bronx; Waldorf Astoria Sales Timeline - Hudson Real EstateHudson Real Estate Says:

    […] Museum defends Dumbo outpost [BD] · Park Avenue in Harlem will get 108 new apartments [NYY] · What’s left of the East River’s long-gone slips [Ephemeral] · Alphabet …read more Via:: Curbed New […]

  4. ken sacharin Says:

    I love your blog. Thanks for this, and all your posts. Well done!

  5. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Thank you so much!

  6. Upstate Ellen Says:

    Vly does not mean valley. Old Streets is incorrect. Vly is an old Dutch word for a wetland or marsh… a low-lying area, perhaps, but not a valley.

  7. Upstate Ellen Says:

    Wikipedia gets it right. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_places_named_Vlaie

  8. Mark Says:

    Well, the two words are undoubtedly related, looking at their meaning.

  9. R. Slip Says:

    Searching for my ancestors, they were Dutch, from Amsterdam, but maybe they came from or went to America back around 1675?? Because that is where my search ended.
    My Surname is Slip and i like to find out where this surname comes from/started. So all info hou have is welcome ! Thank you.

  10. The little-known history of tiny Catherine Lane | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Street is in Chinatown; Catherine Slip is near the South Street Seaport. But Catherine Lane? It’s easy to […]

  11. The little-known history of tiny Catherine Lane ⋆ New York city blog Says:

    […] Street is in Chinatown; Catherine Slip is near the South Street Seaport. But Catherine Lane? It’s easy to […]

  12. Gabi Kopper Says:

    I am a tour guide in Hamburg. Last week the Four masted barque “Peking” returned to the city where she was built (1911) with a big celebration. Fot just a short time I guess everybody was not thinking about CovidI19. I am currently working on a little youTube video of this beautiful sunny day and would love to use your Manhattan photo in it (of course by mentioning your blog in the credits) and talk about the time the ship was a museum ship in NYC. May I use it? And by the way this is a great blog and I just learned about Slips and have to check out if we have something similar here.
    Greeting to New York

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      Thank you Gabi, and yes you can use the image. Please send me a link to the completed film; I’d love to see it.

  13. Slips on the East River – Hallie Alexander Says:

    […] Old Slip goes back at least as far as its first appearance on a map in 1691. Its most famous moment in American history came a hundred years later when, in 1792, the 90-ton merchant brig Betsy sailed out of Old Slip to become the first ship to carry the American flag around the world.2 […]

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