Posts Tagged ‘Great Jones Street’

Noho’s wonderfully named Shinbone Alley

July 24, 2010

It’s a colorful and curious name for a 19th century alley, isn’t it? 

Perhaps this tiny lane—which starts on the north side of Bleecker Street east of Lafayette Street and ends about 50 feet later—was a rough place where you got your shins kicked in.

Maybe it was the dumping ground for animal bones. [In 1934, photo from the NYPL digital collection]

In any event, it was laid out in 1825, according to a 1957 New York Times article, and in apparently was more substantial back then.

“It winds northward from between 41 and 43 Bleecker Street, and turns westward and again northward, coming out at 1 Bond Street and then on to Great Jones Street,” explains another Times article, from 1897.

“The alley is paved and flagged, and has for years, after nightfall, been the haunt of a crowd of idle young fellows, who give the police a good deal of concern.”

[Shinbone Alley today, now just a driveway ending at the back of Bond Street. Paved with Belgian blocks though.]

Jones vs. Great Jones: Which street came first?

February 16, 2010

Jones Street, a one-block stretch from Bleecker to West Fourth in the West Village, has the head start. It was named after a doctor, Gardner Jones.

Then, in 1789, a lawyer named Samuel Jones—Gardner Jones’ brother-in-law—gave the city some land, stipulating that the street built there be named for him.

Having two Jones Streets was seriously confusing, but reportedly neither Jones would budge and change the name. So Samuel Jones supposedly suggested his street be given the “great” prefix. The city agreed with his humble solution.

Another theory has it that Great Jones Street became, well, great, because it was wider than the first Jones Street.

Adding to the confusion is Great Jones Alley, off of Great Jones Street. Supposedly the term “jones,” as in a drug addiction, comes from the addicts who used to congregate in the alley.

The Urban Dictionary, however, credits “jonesin” to Great Jones Street itself and the drug culture that once thrived there.