Posts Tagged ‘Maiden Lane’

The sidewalk clock embedded in Maiden Lane

October 10, 2011

New York City is filled with lovely decorative sidewalk clocks—some standing tall on the street, others hinged to a building.

But I don’t know of any others that are actually embedded in the sidewalk, like this Roman numeral beauty underfoot at the northeast corner of Broadway and Maiden Lane.

German immigrant William Barthman opened his first jewelry store nearby at 43 Maiden Lane, then moved it to 174 Broadway at this corner.

When the clock came along is still unclear. According to a 1994 New York Times item, the store manager says “some kind of clock has been there ‘a minimum of 80 to 90 years,’ including a wooden model, an electrical one and the current quartz version.”

Who gave Maiden Lane its name?

April 9, 2010

A bit of mystery surrounds the origin of innocent-sounding Maiden Lane, one of the first streets laid out by 17th century Dutch colonists.

It may have started as a lovers’ lane.

“Tradition had it that the girls of early Dutch days were wont to stroll by the little stream along what was known first as Maagde Paatje,” says a 1911 New York Times article.

The name might also stem from the street’s rep as New Amsterdam’s clothes-washing center. “Maiden Lane was the site of a freshwater stream where young maidens did their laundry,” explains Gerard R. Wolfe’s New York: A Guide to the Metropolis.

Whether a lovers path or laundry area, Maiden Lane was for a short time home to Thomas Jefferson.

The street eventually hosted a market and then became the city’s jewelry district in the 19th century.

It’s part of the Financial District now, but the name resonates differently than, say, adjacent Gold Street.

“View of South Street, From Maiden Lane,” by William James Bennett, 1827