Posts Tagged ‘Peter Cooper Village’

The Peters of Second Avenue’s Peter’s Field

March 8, 2012

There’s a city park between First and Second Avenue and East 20th and 21st Streets that isn’t remarkable in any way—except for its curious name of Peter’s Field.

So who was Peter? Petrus Stuyvesant (right), the Dutch director-general of New Netherlands who ruled the city until 1664.

The park name is a play on the name of Stuyvesant’s sprawling farm, or Bouwerie, which once encompassed this location: Petersfield.

Of course, Stuyvesant graces a ton of other landmarks in the area: Stuyvesant Town, Stuyvesant High School (the original building), and Stuyvesant Square.

Peter’s Field also commemorates another famous Peter who lived in the neighborhood: Peter Cooper. He’s the Kips Bay glue manufacturer, founder of Cooper Union in 1859, and namesake of Peter Cooper Village.

Ah, but the little park pays homage to more Peters. Cast concrete plaques put up in the 1990s on the Second Avenue side honor Peter Rabbit, Peter Pan, Peter Piper, Peter Parker, and other fictional characters who share Stuyvesant and Cooper’s name.

More obscure Manhattan Streets

May 15, 2009

Starting at the tip of Peter Cooper Village at East 23rd Street, Asser Levy Place runs just two blocks to East 25th Street between First Avenue and the FDR Drive. It’s named for one of New Amsterdam’s first Jewish settlers, who arrived in Manhattan with dozens of other refugees in 1654 after being chased out of Brazil.

Levy fought a law on the books at the time preventing Jews from joining the militia that patrolled New Amsterdam. He eventually became a prosperous, prominent citizen.


Blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Szold Place is tucked away in the East Village between Avenues C and D, from 10th to 12th Streets. This neighborhood used to be called Dry Dock back in the late 19th century; the name survives at nearby Dry Dock Playground.


Henrietta Szold, the street’s namesake, wasn’t even a New Yorker. Born in Baltimore in 1860, she was a founder of Hadassah, a Jewish service organization, and an advocate of the Zionist movement.

New York’s segregated past

September 2, 2008

The Riverton, a 12-acre complex between 135th and 138th Streets on Fifth Avenue in Harlem, sure looks like Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, down to the identical red-brick apartment houses and the same grassy space between buildings.

No wonder; Riverton may be smaller, but all three working- and middle-class communities were built in the 1940s by Metropolitan Life. 

Yet something is different about Riverton: The seven apartment buildings were put up as an alternative for African-Americans seeking to live in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. Met Life built those complexes for white tenants only, a policy that officially stuck until 1950.

MetLife sold Riverton in 1976. The new owners have made headlines recently because they’re about to default on the mortgage. And of course, Stuy Town and Peter Cooper Village have gone upscale now that they’re owned by Tishman Speyer.