Where to? The new residential drives going up above Houston Street, specifically on the growing city’s East Side.
And for a brief period of time, so did St. Marks Place.
St. Marks Place’s rise began in 1831, when developer Thomas E. Davis purchased property on the south and north sides of Eighth Street between Second and Third Avenues.
But New York was marching northward, and Davis intended to capitalize on it. His plan was to build “superior class” homes that would be set back from the street on large lots.
And to give the block some pizzazz (and copy fashionable street names like Astor Place), he renamed it after nearby St. Marks Church.
“Grand, 3-1/2-story Federal style marble-and-brick-clad town houses with balconies were constructed here in 1831,” states this Landmarks Commission Report.
Soon, noteworthy residents followed. In 1833, 4 St. Marks Place was purchased by Col. Alexander Hamilton, son of the founding father.
Among other family members, he moved his widowed mother, Eliza Hamilton, into the house.
Daniel LeRoy, a member of the Fish family, bought number 20 (top right). Writer James Feinmore Cooper occupied number 6.
St. Marks retained its cachet through the 1840s. But as always in Manhattan, the rich fanned north. The street, as well as the neighborhood, slid out of fashion.
“The neighborhood of St. Marks Place has become of late a much less desirable location that it was formerly….” wrote the New York Times in 1852, referring to frequent cattle drives passing the corner at Third Avenue.
As the wealthy left, and then the cattle drives disappeared, thousands of German immigrants replaced them.
They remade St. Marks Place into a main street in the city’s teeming Little Germany, or Kleindeutschland.
The Daniel LeRoy House, in similar not-so-great shape as the Hamilton-Holly abode, is also still standing.
[Newspaper ad: The Evening Post, April 1832; fourth image: 27 St. Marks Place, a Girls’ Temporary Home operated by the Children’s Aid Society, from King’s Handbook of New York; fifth image: 24 St. Marks Place, a group of boys pose for Jacob Riis in 1890 before heading off on an orphan train sponsored by the Children’s Aid Society, MCNY.]
Tags: Alexander Hamilton St. Marks Place, East Village NYC photos, New York in the 1830s, old photos St. Marks Place, Peter Stuyvesant bouwerie, St. Mark's Church, St. Marks Place, Thomas E. Davis St Marks Place