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.

ALLENafter War of 1812 hero Captain William Henry Allen

ANNnamed for either a member of the Beekman clan or the wife of Captain William Henry Allen

ASTOR –named for John Jacob Astor, “the richest man in America

BARCLAYReverend Henry Barclay was the second rector of Trinity Church

BARROW—  artist Thomas Barrow was known for his portraits of Trinity Church

BAXTERoriginally called Orange Street, renamed for Mexican War hero Colonel Charles Baxter

BAYARDNicholas Bayard was mayor of NY in 1686

BENSONEgbert Benson was New York’s first Attorney General

BETHUNE—named for philanthropist Johanna Graham Bethune

BLEECKER—the street ran through the farm of Anthony L. Bleecker

CARMINEfor  Trinity Church vestryman Nicolas Carman (sic)

CATHERINE the wife of land owner Henry Rutgers

CHARLES ––named for landowner Charles Christopher Amos

CHARLTONDr. John Charlton, an English-born surgeon, became president of the N.Y. Medical Society

CHRISTOPHERalso named for Charles Christopher Amos, a local landowner

CHRYSTIE – named for Lt.-Col. John Christie (sic), killed in the War of 1812

CLARKSON – Revolutionary War hero Matthew Clarkson

CLINTONGeorge Clinton, was a Revolutionary War hero and the first governor of New York State

CORNELIA a beloved granddaughter of landowner Robert Herring

CROSBYnamed for William Bedlow Crosby, who inherited much of the Lower East Side

DELANCEYnamed after James De Lancey, Sr, whose farm was located in what is now the LES

DUANEJames Duane was an early mayor of the city

ELDRIDGEnamed for a Lieutenant killed in the War of 1812

ELIZABETHunknown

ESSEXnamed for the English county (as were nearby Norfolk and Suffolk Streets)

FORSYTH—named in 1817 for Lt. Col. Benjamin Forsyth

FRANKLINformerly Sugarloaf Street, it was renamed in 1816 to honor Benjamin Franklin

FULTONRobert Fulton , inventor of the steamship

GREENE Revolutionary War General Nathanael Greene

HARRISONnamed after local brewery owner George Harrison

HENRYnamed for Colonel Henry Rutgers, a member of the New York State legislature, among other accomplishments

HESTERHester Rynders was the daughter of disgraced governor Jacob Leisler

HORATIORevolutionary General Horatio Gates

HOUSTON – named for delegate to the Continental Congress William Houstoun (original spelling)

HOWARDHenry Howard headed the NYC volunteer fire department in the 19th century

HUDSONnamed after Henry Hudson

JACKSONJackson Square named after President Andrew Jackson

JANE –originally owned by the Jaynes family; spelling changed when the areas was owned and developed by Jane Gahn

JAYprobably named for Founding Father John Jay

JOHNnamed for a 17th century shoemaker, John Harpendingh in an area then known as “Shoemakers’ Pasture.”

KENMARE—a (probably orrupt) Lower East Side politician known as Big Tim Sullivan named this street after his mother’s Irish birthplace.

LEONARDunknown

LEROY Jacob Leroy, alderman and business man

LUDLOW – another War of 1812 hero, this one a Lieutenant killed in a naval battle

MACDOUGAL –Revolutionary Commander Alexander McDougal

MERCER –  Hugh Mercer, an officer killed in the Revolutionary War

MILLIGAN – once the property of Samuel Milligan

MINETTA – named after Minetta Brook, whose course it followed

MOOREbefore landfill changed the shape of Manhattan, Moore Street was the where ships were moored.

MORTONprominent lawyer Jacob Morton

MURRAYJoseph Murray, a pre-Revolutionary War lawyer

PATCHIN – named for surveyor Aaron Patchin

PEARL – Running along what was once the bank of the East River, named for the abundant oyster shells that washed ashore.

PERRYnamed first for landowner Henry Ogden Perry, later namesake was Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, War of 1812 naval hero

READEnamed for the 18th century warden of Trinity Church, John Reade.

SHERIDAN Square— Civil War hero General Philip Sheridan

STANTON—named for George Stanton, an agent for the de Lancey family

SULLIVAN Revolutionary War hero Brigadier General John Sullivan

THOMASnamed for a son of Anthony Lispenard, a merchant and landowner

THOMPSONa memorial to Revolutionary War Brigadier General William Thompson

VARICK –named in 1799 for then mayor Richard Varick

VESEY – the Reverend William Vesey was the first rector of Trinity Church

VESTRY—named for the vestry of Trinity Church

WALKERBenjamin Walker was a Revolutionary War captain and congressman

WARRENnamed for Admiral Sir Peter Warren

WAVERLYnamed for Sir Walter Scott’s popular novel Waverly

WILLIAMpossibly named for John Jacob Astor’s son

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:

AMITY

AMOS

ANTHONY

AUGUSTUS

BRANNON

BROOK

BUDD

BURR

BURTON

CARROLL

COZINE

DAVID

DOMINIC

ELIZA

FITZROY

GERMAINE

HAMMOND

HENRY

HETTY

JACOB

LAURENS

LORILLARD

OGDEN

RACHEL

ROSE

SCOTT

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16 Responses to “Manhattan Street Names: Jane & John, Carmine & Cornelia”

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Erika Says:

March 24th, 2010 at 4:41 am

Here in Melbourne, Australia our big city streets are named ‘New York style’.

Pamela Redmond Satran Says:

March 24th, 2010 at 7:26 am

This is great, Linda, I never knew this history, and lots of great names! I love Cornelia.

Erika Says:

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.

Elisabeth@YCCII Says:

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 Says:

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!

JNE Says:

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.

Bella Says:

March 24th, 2010 at 11:00 am

I love these sort of blogs! They are wonderful!

olivegreen Says:

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 😉

itsallthere Says:

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!

JB Says:

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.

laura Says:

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.

Jill Says:

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. 🙂

ChristyHeather Says:

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 Says:

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.

indiefendi Says:

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

jem Says:

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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