Posts Tagged ‘Manhattan Street Names’

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.

Manhattan’s obscure little streets

February 19, 2009

Much of Manhattan conforms to the grid laid out in the early 19th century, with streets and avenues following a mostly ordered number (and sometimes letter) system. 

But lots of tiny nooks and alleys with obscure names lurk among the numbers and letters—like Mount Carmel Place, two blocks spanning 26th and 28th Street between Second and First Avenues. The street name must come from a church that disappeared long ago.

mountcarmelplace

Moylan Place isn’t much of a street; it’s just kind of a spot off 126th Street and Broadway. I’d guess it was a street at one time. According to a 1921 New York Times article, it was named after a soldier who died in World War I whose father, William Moylan, lived on the block for many years. 

moylanplace

Spanning 34th Street to 42nd Street, Dyer Avenue’s main purpose is to herd traffic into the Lincoln Tunnel. General George R. Dyer was the head of the Port Authority when the George Washington Bridge opened in 1931.

dyerstreet