Our Firemen, The History of the NY Fire Departments

Chapter 22, Part II

By Holice and Debbie

In the spring of 1864 the lower section of the Central Park was so far completed as to conduce greatly to the pleasant enjoyment of the citizens. The part of the park then in course of improvement was between One hundred and Sixth and one Hundred and Tenth Streets. Eight miles of carriage roads, five miles of bridle-paths and twenty miles of foot-walks wre the open to the public. The taxable valuation of the three wards adjacent had increased from 1856 to 1862 twenty-seven millions of dollars, due in a considerable extent to the opening of the park. The cost of that improvement, including land, up to the first of January, 1863, was seven million three hundred and seventy-two thousand four hundred and twenty-six dollars.

The growth and prosperity of New York by the advent of the year 1866 were declared to be beyond parallel. Its resources were immense. Populations and wealth wre pouring into it from all parts of the world. The rich country which surrounded it contributed incessantly to its progress and advancement, and it needed not the gift of prophecy to recognize the fact that before many years the whole island would be crowded with an active and energetic people.

The funded debt of the city on December 22, 1865, was twenty-nine million nine hundred and thirty-two thousand five hundred and seventy-six dollars and fifty cents; and of the county, eleven million three hundred and thirty-three thousand four hundred dollars, together, making forty-one million two hundred and sixty-five thousand, nine hundred and seventy-six dollars and fifty cents, of which amount the Commissioners of Sinking Fund held nine million five hundred and eight thousand one hundred and one dollars, leaving a net indebtedness of thirty-one million seven hundred and fifty-seven thousand eight hundred and seventy-five dollars and fifty cents. The whole debt was secured by the entire property of the city, public and private; and the world offered no better security, in 1866, then the public stock of the City and County of New York.

The city could point with pride to the Croton Aqueduct and reservoirs, its Central park and its public buildings, connected with and under the charge of the Commissioners of Charities and Correction, as well as those under the charge of the Board of Education. The Aqueduct was not only a source of pride, of comfort, and of health, but the revenues derived from it more than paid the interest on the cost of its construction. The Central Park was on of those great public improvements demanded by the spirit of the age, and contributed greatly to the comfort and happiness of all the citizens. It yielded no revenue, but like all other great public improvements, it contributed to the power and prosperity of the city of which it was destined to become so great an ornament.

But the wharves, piers and markets of New York presented a striking contrast to the objects mentioned. Thus, the great commercial city of the continent had not a single wharf or pier which was not a disgrace to it.

Many of the streets of the city had in the course of time changed their names, and these changes doubtless have led to confusion of ideas on the part of readers not conversant wit this fact. Following are some of the changes referred to:

Whitehall Street

Was originally the Winckel or Shop Street. The name was changed from an edifice erected by Governor Stuyvesant called "The Whitehall."

Water Street

Was so called from being the first street laid out in the bed of the East River.

South Street

The southerly line of the East river shore as finally established.

State Street

Originally the ramparts of the Battery., Built upon after the destruction of the fort and the erection of the State House opposite the Bowling Green.

Moore Street

Originally the line of the first wharf erected in the city. Colonel Moore, a merchant was a large owner of the lots when first built upon.

Bridge Street

In Dutch times led to the bridge across the canal in Broad Street. Name retained from the earliest times.

Stone Street

Originally "The Brewers" or Brewer Street. It was the first street paved with stone.

Beaver Street

Originally Beaver Ditch.

South William Street

Formerly called Mill Street, from the first mill (which was also used as a church) being erected there.

Broad Street

Laid out through Blommeart's Valley. A ditch in the centre occasioned the unusual width.

Exchange Place

The old Garden Street. Name changed after the erection of the edifice formerly called the Merchants' Exchange.

William Street

Known at different periods as the Glassmakers' Street, Borgis Joris path and smith Street. The northerly part of William Street in compliment to William of Nassau.

Nassau Street

Formerly known as Piewoman's Street.

New Street

One of the thoroughfares of New Amsterdam, was once a novelty and has preserved its cognomen.

Bowling Green-

The open place in front of the old fort. Was appropriated for the purpose indicated during the last century.

Greenwich Street

A continuation of the Shore Road leading to Greenwich Village.

Washington Street

Laid out while our hero was in the highest office in the nation.

Wall Street

The line of the city wall or palisade.


Has had various names--Heere Straat, Great George Street and Bloomingdale road, all finally merged into the present name.

Maiden Lane

The original "Maid's Path," a rural valley road. This retained its name from the earliest period.

John Street

After John Harpending, who resided on Broadway. This street, when laid out, passed through his garden.

Cortlandt Street

Laid out through the Cortlandt estate.

Dey Street

Laid out through the Dey estate.

Fulton Street

East of Broadway, was originally Partition Street; west of Broadway it was Broadway Fair Street. A common designation being desirable, it was called after the great engineer.

Gold Street

Was originally Golden Hill.

Beekman Street

Was originally named after the family of that name.

Ann Street

Was called so after one of the Beekman family.

Vesey Street

After the Rev. William Vesey.

Barclay Street

After the Rev. Mr. Barclay, of Trinity Church.

Murray, Warren chambers, & Reade Streets

Were all named after similar circumstances.

Church Street

Bounded the west side of St. Paul's churchyard.

College Place

Was laid out along the college grounds.

Ferry Street

Led to the old Long island ferry.

Chatham Street

Was the original road to Boston. Named in compliment to the English statesman.

Cherry Street

Was run through the road by the cherry trees.

Vandewater & Roosevelt Streets

Were named after the proprietors of the lands.

Market Street

Was George Street until a market was built at its foot.

Pike Street

Was originally Crab Apple Street.

Division Street

Was so called because it was the division line between the Delancey and Rutgers farms.

Henry Street

Was called after one of the Rutgers family.

Madison Street

Was so called to honor President Madison. It was originally Bedlow Street.


Was first Lombard Street, Corlears Street, after Corlear's hook.

Duane Street

First called Bailey St. The then mayor was the gentleman honored by this change.

North Moore Street

After one of the officers of Trinity Church, "North" was to distinguish it from another Moore Street.

Desbrosses Street

After a church officer.

Worth Street

Laid out through the Lispenard estate by one of the family, named Anthony. The street became of bad reputation and required obliteration.

Canal Street

After a canal that flowed through it from the Collect Pond, where the Tombs now is.

Franklin Street

Was once Sugar Load Street.

Varick Street

After the mayor.

Center Street

Became disreputable as Collect Street; so the name was changed.

City Hall Place

Was Augustus Street.

Hester Street

After Hester Bayard.

Broome Street

Originally it was Bullock Street.

Spring Street

An old well was situated on the line of this street. It became famous in connection with the murder of Miss Sands.

Bleecker Street

It ran through the country seat of the Bleecker family.

Orchard Street

It ran through the orchard of the Delancey family.

Mangin, Goerck, Willet, Mercer, Greene, Wooster, Sullivan, Macdougal & Hancock Streets

Were all named after distinguished families and individuals

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Debbie

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