Lovely houses and lush front yards on 18th Street

Peter Stuyvesant’s bouwerie must have been something. But contemporary New Yorkers can get an idea of what it looked like thanks to three charming houses on East 18th Street.

Stuyvesant was the final director-general of New Amsterdam. After the British took over in 1664, he moved out of the city center and resided on his 120-acre bouwerie, or farm—roughly bounded by today’s 5th to 15th Street east of Fourth Avenue to the East River.

Stuyvesant died in 1672 and was interred at St. Mark’s Church at Second Avenue and 10th Street, on his bouwerie.

As the East Side went from countryside to part of the city In the 18th and 19th centuries, his heirs sold off land to developers eager to put down roads and build homes for a growing New York.

One of those heirs was Cornelia Stuyvesant Ten Broeck, who in 1852 leased land on today’s 18th Street to several men who worked in the construction trades.

Ten Broeck stipulated in her lease that these men put up “good and substantial dwelling houses…being three or more stories in height and constructed either of brick or stone,” according to a 1973 Neighborhood Preservation Center report.

The results of that lease are still part of the city today: three lovely brick houses with vast, lush front yards and iron fences and entryways at 326, 328, and 330 East 18th Street.

The three sister houses, built in the popular Italianate style of the mid-19th century, “recall a period when rows of one-family dwellings were beginning to line the city’s ‘uptown’ side streets from the Hudson River to Avenue A,” the NPC report says.

The houses themselves are somewhat modest. But the decorative ironwork on the porches and entryways give them a New Orleans kind of feel.

And the deep front yards are an unusual feature in Manhattan, though as the above black and white photos (from the 1930s to the 1970s) show, the yards didn’t always feature thick greenery.

The trees and bushes shading our view of the houses look like they sprang up on their own, ghostly reminders of the trees and bushes of Stuyvesant’s bouwerie three centuries earlier.

They lend a bucolic feel to this stretch of the cityscape . . . almost like what Stuyvesant’s bouwerie might have looked like.

[Third photo: NYPL, 1938; Fourth photo: MCNY/Edmund V. Gillon 2013.3.2.2325; Fifth photo: MCNY/Edmund V. Gillon 2013.3.2.2326]

Tags: , , , , , ,

18 Responses to “Lovely houses and lush front yards on 18th Street”

  1. ksbeth Says:

    wow

  2. Tom B Says:

    The car in the fifth picture down (b/w) is a 1957 Chevy pillarless 4-door hardtop Bel Air, kind of rare. The car behind it is a 56-57 Chrysler product. The car in the bottom is an early 50’s because of the two piece windshield. The street light looks modern/new.

  3. Chip Says:

    I had also recognized the 50s cars and was also confused by the street lamp. But the New York tried different style street lamps in limited areas – especially in the city – back then. So this could have been a limited run use of that type of lamp.

  4. Mykola (Mick) Dementiuk Says:

    When I lived just a few blocks away that street was always a nice pleasant diversion to walk by. Four small buildings and I was back in the days of the 1880s or so, far removed from the progress and chaos the city has become. Reminds me of the northern block of Gramercy Park, so close by. Beautiful, amazing what the city must of looked like back then…

  5. VirginiaB Says:

    Amazing that something like this still exists in Manhattan–just lovely. And my Irish ancestors (some of them) lived nearby in the 1850s and 60s. In the East 20s abutting Avenue A. It’s nice that something they would recognize still exists. Thank you so much for this.

  6. Ricky Says:

    Do you think they just didn’t have plantings in the 1850’s or maybe the photo was taken before the plants went in?

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      My guess is the plants came in when it became fashionable to green up the city. So many older photos from the mid-20th century show a city with few trees on sidewalks and in yards. But I like to think the plants just sprang up on their own…

  7. marjorie Says:

    16 years ago, my baby’s pediatrician’s office was in the basement of one of those houses. Honestly, it was part of why I chose the practice! I almost cried when they moved to a standard postwar office building near Madison Park.

    • Zoé Says:

      Marjorie – I can’t remember if it was exactly one of these buildings; but I went to an internist/GP here also. I think they were ‘family’ physicians w/ different specialists – so it probably was the same office. (My doctor was an internist & cardiologist I think).

  8. Zoé Says:

    I thought the trees look like they may have seeded themselves also. Perhaps from the nearby park? LOVE it! I’m happy about the re-greening happening all over the City inc in the cemented over tiny front courtyards (most of those in Brooklyn). My brother told me landlords had cemented them over in places like Park Slope (once it became almost entirely working class) so they would not have to weed gardens & trim trees.

    I worked around the corner on publishers row (at 225 Park Ave. South – for an architectural firm) & used to walk through here almost every time I arrived too early (which was not daily or even weekly!). Because there was a great little bakery on the ground floor of one of the buildings on these blocks. And as someone else mentioned – I visited a doctor here a few years after that. Beautiful NYC gems here!

  9. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    East 18th Street is really lovely, it’s like being in another world!

  10. David H Lippman Says:

    Fantastic buildings…glad they’ve survived. Probably cost the earth.

  11. Pat Says:

    I grew up on 21st St & 1st Ave. in the 1960’s & 1970’s I had friends who lived on 18th Street. The first house (326) was owned by The Jacobsons a family of Doctors. I’ve heard that the family sold the property sometime in the early 2000’s. If my memory serves me correctly Stevie Wonder rented the second house (328) for about a year while working in NYC. I was enchanted by them as a child. They did have a New Orlean’s look to them.

  12. Harold Lynch Says:

    I ‘grew up’ on this street in the 1940’s and 1950’s. The house on the left(330) was owned by a Dr. Gerard. I believe that she was a pediatrician. My mother brought me to her in my early years.Her husband was also a doctor. However, he was a professor of chemistry at NYU. The Gerards had a son(Scotty) and a daughter(name unknown).It is my fading memory that the Jacobson family resided in the middle structure(328).
    Harry

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: