Manhattan Street Names: Jane & John, Carmine & Cornelia

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)

CATHERINEthe 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

CORNELIAa 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


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

GREENERevolutionary 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.


LEROYJacob 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

SULLIVANRevolutionary 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:



























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About the Author

Linda Rosenkrantz

Linda Rosenkrantz

Linda Rosenkrantz is the co-founder of Nameberry, and co-author with Pamela Redmond of the ten baby naming books acknowledged to have revolutionized American baby naming. You can follow her personally at InstagramTwitter and Facebook. She is also the author of the highly acclaimed New York Review Books Classics novel Talk and a number of other books.