Posts Tagged ‘Corlears Hook Park’

Which “East River Park” is in this 1902 painting?

August 5, 2019

When William Glackens painted “East River Park” in 1902—contrasting the serenity of a city green space with the noisy industrial riverfront—the park that currently stretches along the riverfront called East River Park had yet to be created.

So what East River park did he depict here? Perhaps Corlears Hook Park, at the bend where Manhattan tucks under itself between the Williamsburg and Manhattan Bridges?

This was certainly a smoggy, ship-choked channel at the turn of the last century. The city purchased land here in the 1880s for the creation of a park, completed in 1905.

Neighboring East River Park didn’t exist until the 1930s, and according to the Brooklyn Museum, which owns the painting, a label on it indicates that the Brooklyn waterfront is depicted.

Or maybe his “East River Park” (closeup of the women and girl above) was farther upriver in Yorkville at today’s Carl Schurz Park—with a view of the factories and ship traffic of Hell Gate and Queens?

“The southern portion of the park was set aside by the City as East River Park in 1876,” according to NYC Parks. “The former Gracie estate was added in 1891 and a new landscape design by Calvert Vaux and Samuel Parsons was completed in 1902.”

A New York street helps coin the term “hooker”

April 10, 2011

Corlears Hook was named in the 17th century for the Van Corlears family, early Dutch settlers who had a farm near this spit of land jutting into into the East River.

In the 18th century, the British renamed it Crown Point (on the 1776 map below), and in the 19th century it reverted back to its New Amsterdam moniker.

But it wasn’t farmland anymore. By the 1830s it became the city’s most notorious red-light district, attracting sailors and the women who serviced them.

The women of Corlears Hook
“. . . where the lowest and most debased of their class. They were flashy, untidy, and covered with tinsel and brass jewelry,” states Seafaring Women, by David Cordingly. “Their dresses are short, arms and necks bare, and their appearance is as disgusting as can be conceived.”

“The latter area is generally credited with giving rise to the term ‘hooker’ and certainly had its fair share of rough characters, male and female,” adds Cordingly.

By the 20th century, Corlears Hook had become a lovely park, which today offers views of the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges—and no hint of its importance in creating a popular term for ladies of the night.