A guide to now-defunct Greenwich Village street names in 1865

Greenwich Village is one of the oldest sections of New York City, so you’d think the street names of this former country outpost would have been set and established by the mid-19th century.

But a look at an antique map from 1865 proves otherwise. Sure, most of the streets carry the same name they do today; you could certainly use the map to get around from 14th Street to Houston.

Still, a surprising number of streets have names that are unfamiliar and feel, well, wrong. Take 13th Avenue, on the far left side of the map, for starters (below, at Gansevoort Street, in the 1920s).

Never part of the original street grid and built on landfill in the 1830s, this neglected road went from West 11th Street to 25th Street along the Hudson River. Any plans to extend it or improve it seemed to end in the early 20th century, when almost all of it disappeared from the cityscape.

From 13th Avenue let’s go to Troy Street, the old-time name for West 12th Street, which then turns into Abingdon Place, another vanished name. Why it was called Troy is unclear, but perhaps it was the name of an 18th or 19th century landowner. The street got its name in 1827, according to oldstreets.com.

Six blocks south of Troy is Amos Street, which the map helpfully explains is now West 10th Street. Who was Amos? That would be Charles Christopher Amos, according to nycgo.com, the heir to landowner Sir Peter Warren. Amos also lent his name to Charles and Christopher Streets.

Closer to Washington Square is another ghost street: Clinton Place, today’s West Eighth Street. (Above photo shows 31-33 East Eighth Street, formerly 41-39 Clinton Place in 1928.)

“Eighth Street (Sixth Avenue to the Bowery) was named Clinton Place in memory of Dewitt Clinton, an American statesman, whose widow lived a few doors away on University Place,” explains the Village Alliance. “The street kept the name Clinton Place until the turn of the century.”

Laurens Place, below Washington Square, was a poor tenement strip in the mid-19th century dubbed “rotten row.” Rechristening it LaGuardia Place and then below Houston Street West Broadway gave it much-needed cachet.

Amity Street’s name origin is also unknown (above, showing the “Midnight Mission for Fallen Women”). “Opened in 1806, it was renamed West 3rd Street in 1875,” notes oldstreets.com. Toward the East Village was elite, terraced Albion Place, “a row of 12 houses on the south side of East 4th Street between the Bowery and Second Avenue.”

Finally, I’m curious about St. Georges Place, which appears to be the new name of East 13th Street at Second Avenue. Was a church with the same name nearby, or could this have been a long-forgotten row of posh houses similar to St. Luke’s Place and St. Marks Place?

[Map: Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps Inc. via Raremaps.com; second image: NYPL; third image: oldnyc.org; fourth image: NYPL]

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16 Responses to “A guide to now-defunct Greenwich Village street names in 1865”

  1. Tony Towle Says:

    West Broadway above Houston Street was not renamed LaGuardia Place until 1967. The building numbers are contiguous from south to north on West Broadway up to the park.

  2. nhu876 Says:

    An intesting piece of NYC history. I’d love to see an article about the other borough’s street name history.

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      Street name origins are pretty interesting, especially in Brooklyn Heights. All those early landowners, and of course the fruit streets!

  3. countrypaul Says:

    A one-block vestige of 13th Avenue remained at least until two years ago (and may still), inaccessible by car and behind security fencing, unsigned and at the end of a couple of old piers that were being integrated into the new Hudson River Park. My wife took a picture of me standing on it, proof that both I and it existed.

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      While researching this post I came across info that the little slice of 13th Avenue you stood on actually existed. I think I need a photo of myself there too.

  4. jms Says:

    Speaking of Amity (W. 3rd) Street, I’ve been trying to pin down the location of a long-gone apartment building along it nicknamed “Strunsky’s Love Stables” (after Albert “Papa” Strunsky) back in the 1920s/30s. My best guess is that it was at 101 W. 3rd, but it would be great to have confirmation. That and an adjoining Strunsky property dubbed “Desire Under the El” sound as if they were lively spots….

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      Ah, Papa Strunsky! Another Village character most people have forgotten about.

      • jms Says:

        And it seems virtually everyone has forgotten about his “Love Stables”, alas. Inconveniently, it’s not the sort of thing one tends to see on map legends. Perhaps Richard Kostelanetz would know something about it.

  5. VirginiaLB Says:

    It’s too bad Clinton Place could not keep its name. DeWitt Clinton was far more than an American statesman. He was the visionary advocate of building the Erie Canal which changed New York City and America’s history. Scoffers called it Clinton’s Ditch or Clinton’s Folly until they were proven massively wrong. I hope there is some other memorial to DeWitt Clinton in the city.

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      I meant to add more info on DeWitt Clinton in this post that went far beyond “statesman,” especially since he was mayor of the city and governor of the state, and as you say, the visionary behind the Erie Canal. So I’m glad you wrote in and made a note of how important he is to NYC. We still have DeWitt Clinton High School, and the failed rebranding of Hell’s Kitchen as the Clinton neighborhood.

  6. Mitzie Says:

    I guess the extension of Seventh Avenue first from West 11th Street and then from West 3rd Street had a lot to do with all the newly named streets. I’m not sure of the reason of the first extension. But the second one from West 3rd was the Seventh Avenue Local Subway, today’s #1 Train. I think Varick Street starts around Clarkson Street.

    Love this post!

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      Thanks! I meant to mention that this is pre-Seventh Avenue expansion, and doesn’t the Village look more like, well, a village without it? I imagine it felt small and contained too.

  7. Mykola Mick Dementiuk Says:

    There was a church on 13 St between 2 & 3 Aves which the city tore down. It was the 1960s hardly any way to track down the owner, who was in California, so they levelled it. When he found out he sued and, of course, won. I recall it was originally a Greek Orthodox church which was converted to a Hebrew Temple, I don’t recall the rest. At the time I had an apartment a block away on 13 and 1 & 2 so I recall it very well. A few years later the were filming Taxi Driver in the area.

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      Thanks Mick, now I want to hunt for a photo…would make a great post!

      • Mykola Mick Dementiuk Says:

        There is a photo I saw it, it vanished, probably in NYG&B archives where you gotta pay for it. Oh well…

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