Manhattan Street Names: Jane & John, Carmine & Cornelia
In the course of leading a basically bicoastal life, I’ve had the opportunity to spend a lot of time walking and driving the streets of both New York and L.A. And I have to say, as rhythmic and melodious as so many of the California names are– e.g. Alameda, Amanita, Mariposa, Morella– for native New Yorker me there’s nothing like the solid, straight-forward, usable street names of downtown Manhattan, from Greenwich Village to the Wall Street area, names resonant with references to early American history.
The names of these meandering streets, lanes and alleys were subject to shifting trends. Many British names were changed after the Revolutionary War, for example, and for a time fashion dictated that streets named for local property owners would carry the first names only. Leaders in the War of 1812 provided a goodly share of names, as did figures connected to Trinity Church.
Here are Lower Manhattan street names with their historical roots–any of which would make a possible namesake.
BLEECKER—the street ran through the farm of Anthony L. Bleecker
CLARKSON – Revolutionary War hero Matthew Clarkson
ELDRIDGE –named for a Lieutenant killed in the War of 1812
ELIZABETH — unknown
FORSYTH—named in 1817 for Lt. Col. Benjamin Forsyth
LUDLOW – another War of 1812 hero, this one a Lieutenant killed in a naval battle
MILLIGAN – once the property of Samuel Milligan
PATCHIN – named for surveyor Aaron Patchin
VARICK –named in 1799 for then mayor Richard Varick
VESTRY—named for the vestry of Trinity Church
And for an extra dose of trivia, here are some earlier names of Lower Manhattan streets—or parts of them– that got lost to history:
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on March 24th, 2010 at 4:41 am
Here in Melbourne, Australia our big city streets are named ‘New York style’.
Pamela Redmond Satran Said
on March 24th, 2010 at 7:26 am
This is great, Linda, I never knew this history, and lots of great names! I love Cornelia.
on March 24th, 2010 at 7:39 am
Sorry, too add a bit more info to my first post. We have a ‘Collins’ ‘Bourke’ ‘Elizabeth’ ‘Flinders’ and a ‘Swanston’ (there are a few others, of course but I can’t think off the top of my head). I don’t really know much (read:anything) about why they were named these, but presumably for much the same reasons as the streets in New York.
on March 24th, 2010 at 8:52 am
Love this history! I actually know of siblings Astor and Hudson. Waverly may be one to watch on a national scale, and I’d love to see more Perrys and Hesters.
Charlotte Vera Said
on March 24th, 2010 at 9:50 am
Interesting! Most of the streets here in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada are numbered (the city’s on a grid), but the small street that my parents live on is called Donnell Road after the man who originally owned a homestead in this area way back when. I wish we knew more about his history. Most of the other homestead owners in the area got something big and grand named after them — an important bridge, a major downtown road, a prominent building — poor Donnell only got one dinky little road that no one’s ever heard of!
on March 24th, 2010 at 10:15 am
Very cool! Love Warren! Hope no one uses the previously named list name Lorillard as inspiration though – ouch.
on March 24th, 2010 at 11:00 am
I love these sort of blogs! They are wonderful!
on March 24th, 2010 at 11:04 am
Great post, I’m always up for a history lesson! Some of these are very usable–the obvious ones like Ann and Charles, but some of the others as well. I would love to meet a little Baxter, Cornelia or Sullivan. A few, like Barclay and Essex, are a bit too stuffy for my tastes but might work for the uppercrust. And for some reason, I’m really drawn to Patchin! It’s like Satchel, minus the baggage 😉
on March 24th, 2010 at 2:46 pm
Most of these names are way too out there for me. A few are on my list, like Henry. One name that caught my attention that I totally forgot about was Dominic. I used to love this name and I still do! Great post!
on March 24th, 2010 at 6:35 pm
My daughter’s name is Waverly. It means “the meadow surrounded by quaking aspens”. Picked it a year b4 we were even pregnant! My hubby(and I!) was completely in love with the name. So beautiful; it suits her perfectly.
on March 24th, 2010 at 7:36 pm
Love this! I walk these streets every day and am so intrigued by the history! And I’m sure you know that poor Amity is now called West 3rd St – which I consider a major aesthetic bummer.
on March 24th, 2010 at 10:23 pm
This is such a brilliant topic! I loved reading about the history! (How interesting that Jane St. used to be Jaynes St.)
I have a friend who once lived on Sullivan St., and I always used to think that it would make a great name for someone who liked surnames as first names. 🙂
on March 24th, 2010 at 11:34 pm
Erika – You should really know at least who Bourke, and Flinders streets were named after. They have nothing to do with original land ownership! All the Melbourne CBD streets I can think of were named after the monarchy, explorers or statesmen.
If you travel up to Parliament House from Spencer Street, the names make sense: “King William, Queen Elizabeth.”
Jeannine Green Said
on April 10th, 2010 at 12:04 pm
You may want to check out names on roads, brooks, bridges, parks, and other places in Roxbury Place-Name Stories: facts, folklore, fibs, a book of hundreds of stories about the origin of names in this 300-year-old, upscale, Litchfield County, Connecticut town. It was home to Arthur Miller, Richard Widmark, Dustin Hoffman and other celebrities and boasts names like: Ranney, Rucum, Tophet, Chalybes, along with early English settler names like Wakelee, Hurlbut, Weller, and Spargo.
on November 8th, 2013 at 9:45 pm
The streets in my neighborhood are named after people who lived there in the 19th Century so it’s named after Daniels and Marys and Thomases. George Washington visited the area one time but there’s no street named after him in my neighborhood, just a plaque hahaha
on November 8th, 2013 at 10:47 pm
Ah, I adore the name Cornelia!
I live on a Quinn St, which is rapidly becoming a name. And close by there’s a Kate St, Gregory St and Milton Rd.
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