Posts Tagged ‘Viele Map’

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