Posts Tagged ‘Mackerelville’

The East Village, aka “Mackerelville”

May 18, 2010

Mackerelville—isn’t that an illustrious name? Centered at First Avenue and 11th Street, it was the mid–19th century term for today’s East Village.

And you know with a name like that—a mackerel was slang for a procurer or pimp—it had to be an awful place to live.

Second only to the legendary Five Points district in poverty, Mackerelville was a hotbed of gangs, gin mills, and other social ills, as this New York Times letter, from December 17, 1858, explains.

Other articles refer to Mackerelville’s “cholera heaps” and “uneducated denizens.” By the 1870s, it seems, the name was on the outs.

“The locality where the children will be taken from was once well known as Mackerelville, and consists of several squares of tenement buildings, all densely crowded with poor families,” reports an 1873 New York Times article about a charity boat trip.