D. T. Valentine's History of Broadway Pre: 1865 Part VI Section:A

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Broadway, Between Canal Street and Astor Place Pages: 608-616

Astor place was originally the line of a road leading from the hamlet called "The Bowery" (so called from its vicinity to Governor Stuyvesant's farm) to Sapokanican or Greenwich. This road crossed a ridge of hills called by the Dutch the "Zantberg," and by the English "Sandy Hill." The greater part of the land between that road and the meadows (at Canal street) was the Bayard (east and west) farms, the dividing line between the two running along the middle of Broadway.

On the west side of Broadway this farm extended from the meadows to near Bleecker street, north of which was the Herring estate, and on the east side of Broadway the farm extended to a point between Prince and Houston streets; next north was land of Alderman Dyckman, adjoining to which was land of Anthony L. Bleecker, through which Bleecker street was afterward run; next north was the Herring estate, and along the Sandy Hill road was land of Pero.

The Bayard farm was bounded on the east by the Bowery, and on the west by an irregular line extending to Macdougal street. The Mansion House was erected about the year 1750, and was situated on the block bounded by the present Grand, Broome, Crosby, and Elm streets. It was approached by an avenue called Bayard's lane, entrance gate being at the Bowery road; the present Broome street has been laid out on nearly the same line. The family was a leading one in New York from the time of the Dutch. During the war the defensive lines established on the outskirts of the city ran across this property, and occasioned it to be much cut up by military works. A diagram of these works, made in 1782, illustrates their condition at the close of the war.

Nicholas Bayard, after the close of the Revolution, found himself financially embarrassed from the devastating effects of the war, and raised between six and seven thousand pounds by mortgage of the West farm, or that part of the estate west of Broadway, which contained about one hundred acres. This was placed in the hands of trustees, and by them sold off in parcels of various sizes. The property had been previously laid out in lots and streets.

The regulation of Broadway was deferred for some years after its opening, chiefly from the difficulties arising out of the discordant action respecting the plan of regulating Canal street; and thus it is found that before the grade of the street was established several buildings were erected on its line. In its natural course it presented a variety of surface requiring excavating at some places and filling at others. At a point on Broadway, near the present Spring street, was the junction of two private lanes through Bayard's farm, one of which led southwesterly to the North river shore at Lispenard's meadows, the other ran in a westerly course, and terminated near Richmond hill. And at the present Amity street was another lane leading from the Bowery to Richmond hill, along the southerly side of Herring's land. Broadway itself, in the locality now spoken of, was for many years commonly known as the Middle road.

In 1802 a survey of the Middle road was ordered from the Arched Bridge (Canal street) to Dr. Livingston's residence, which was on the southwest corner of Broadway and Prince street; and the Street Commissioner was directed to report as to "the best method of paving, or, as it was called, "turnpiking" it. He recommended the paving forty feet wide, with sidewalks ten feet wide, and that a row of trees be planted on each side, at ten feet distance from each other. His plan was at first adopted, and afterward repealed on account of the long standing difficulty respecting Canal Street. In the meantime, however, the Middle road, was to some extent, improved by taking ten feet from the crown of the hill "near Morneys," and filling in to the same depth a hollow near "the starch factory." In 1805, however, the street was permanently regulated between the stone bridge and Prince street, and in the following year between Prince and Great Jones streets.

 In the course of the next year the regulation was extended to Art street, or the present Astor place. The laying of pavements and construction of sidewalks soon followed, so that in the year 1809 the street was fully completed as far north as our present notice extends. In November, 1809, the Street Commissioner reported that Mr. Samuel Burling had offered to furnish as many poplar trees as might be necessary to line Broadway, from Leonard to Art street, provided the Corporation would move and set them without expense to him. The Commissioner further stated that he had consulted a number of property-owners, and found them exceedingly anxious to accept the liberal offer of Mr. Burling, and one offered to cart a great portion at his own expense. It being concluded by the Corporation that the arrangement would "be an addit9onal beauty to Broadway, the pride of our city," and as the season was then a proper one for transplanting, and the curbstones were then being laid, the proposition was approved.

Previous to the regulation of the street, and before the commencement of the present century, several adventurous pioneers, as has been mentioned, erected improvements along the Middle road. At that time the old mansion still remained in the occupancy of Alderman Bayard, though its destiny, soon to fall before the advancing strides of city population, was obvious. Already on the corner of Grand street a public house had been erected, which then and for many subsequent years was conducted by Abraham Davis. This was afterward called the Broadway House, and the same premises were occupied as a hotel until within the past few years. A view of the premises at a time when some additional improvements had been made in the vicinity is here given.

Joseph Blackwell, a tinsmith, built on the lower corner of the present Howard street, and John McCammann erected the first house on or near the northwest corner of Broadway and Canal street. William Ogilvie and a few others had likewise made improvements.

To exhibit the condition of the improvements at the time Broadway was first paved (say in 1807) we shall specify the blocks and the buildings erected upon them, taking first the:

East Side of Broadway

Between Canal and Howard Streets.___A frame house on the corner of Canal street; a carpenter shop and two other buildings near and on the corner of Howard street.

Between Howard and Grand Streets.___Grocery store corner of Howard street, and a stabling establishment in the centre of the block.

Between Grand and Broome Streets.___Abraham Davis's house on the corner of Grand street; no other building on the block.

Between Broome and Spring streets.___All vacant

Between Spring and Prince Streets.___One house, belonging to Sigismund Huggitt, occupied by Samuel Lawrence; all other lots vacant.

Between Prince and Bleecker Streets.__About a dozen houses, generally frame buildings.

Above Bleecker Street.___A Few houses toward Sandy Hill.

West Side of Broadway

Between Canal and Howard Streets.__Six buildings and several vacant lots.

Between Howard and Grand Streets.__Three buildings; the rest vacant.

Between Grand and Broome Streets.__All vacant lots, belonging to Abijah Hammond.

Between Broome and Spring Streets.___Three houses; the rest of the ground vacant.

Between Spring and Prince Streets.__Two houses, one of which was that of Rev. John Livingston, on the corner of Prince Street; the rest of the block vacant.

Between Prince and Houston Streets.__Five houses; remainder of lots vacant.

Between Houston and Bleecker Streets.__Anthony L. Bleecker's residence, with several acres of land adjacent.

Between Bleecker and Amity Streets.__One house; rest of lot vacant.

North of Amity Street.__The residences of Robert Thompson, Peter Hatrick, Leonard Bleecker, John Depeyster, William Thomas, Wm. H. Robinson, and William Neilson, all first class residences, with large grounds attached. There were also some tracts unimproved.

(Continue Part: VI Section: B)


Website: The History Box.com
Article Name: D.T. Valentine's History of Broadway Pre: 1865 Part VI Section: A
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: From My Collection of Books: Manual of the Corporation of the City of New York by D.T. Valentine 1865
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