Posts Tagged ‘Lower West Side NYC’

Food and lonely figures at old Washington Market

August 20, 2018

It’s hard to imagine that some of the wide, quiet, clean streets of today’s Tribeca once formed a loud, stinking, open-air food hub called Washington Market.

Opened in 1812, Washington Market boomed, with more than 500 vendors and 4,000 wagons crisscrossing the food stalls and tenement-fronted alleys in the 1880s.

The market continued to attract buyers, sellers (and vermin, among other unpleasant things) through the 20th century, as artist David Burliuk reveals in this 1931 painting.

“The work is thought to depict Reade Street and the Washington Market area of Tribeca; the view is towards the Morse building which was designated a New York City landmark by the Landmarks Preservation Committee in 2006,” states Art Knowledge News, in an article on the painting going up for auction. (Bids were estimated to start at $40,000.)

“The market itself was razed in the 1970s, and a small park by its name is all that remains of what was once New York’s principal produce market.

Crossing the street on the right, is that a cat or a rat?

There is no beach anywhere near Beach Street

August 19, 2017

Beach Street—the name of this little strip of a road in Tribeca conjures up images of a sandy shoreline and gentle waves.

And while the Manhattan shore did used to lap at Greenwich Street, which Beach Street intersects, it’s apparently just a geographical coincidence.

So did Beach Street get its name from a colonial settler homesick for Liverpool or the West Indies?

It’s actually a corruption of Bache, named for Paul Bache, the son-in-law of Leonard Lispenard, who himself (or an older family member) was the namesake of nearby Lispenard Street.

The original Lispenard was a French Huguenot who arrived in Manhattan in the 17th century and eventually owned the swampy land south of Canal Street, which was known for a century at least as Lispenard’s Meadows (above), according to Henry Moscow’s The Street Book.

Beach Street has undergone as much transformation as any city block has over time.

Lispenard’s Meadows was a desirable area, as this ad in the Evening Post from 1807 shows. (No yellow fever!) After the swamp was drained, the neighborhood became exclusive St. John’s Park (above, in 1866).

When the railroad came in and the wealthy moved uptown, Beach Street was part of a warehouse district.

At some point, for one block, it was renamed Ericsson Place—after former street resident John Ericsson, a Swedish-born inventor, designer of the USS Monitor (built in Greenpoint), and a popular hero after the Civil War.

Today it’s a quiet stretch in a posh-again area. Apparently Beach Street did extend to the Hudson River at one time, one last chance for the name to actually make sense.

Alas, a modern office building cuts it off from the river, and Beach Street is forever landlocked.

[Second, fourth, and fifth images: NYPL; third: Evening Post 1807]