Sunday, November 7, 2010

Stuyvesant Street Mystery

While researching another post, I came across this unusual map from 1881:

From Community Heritage Maps

You can see the Stuyvesant Street running on the diagonal from the lower left to the upper right.  But the upper right portion crosses the blocks between Avenue A and Second Avenue:

Of course this eastern portion does not exist, and I couldn't find any evidence that it ever did.  The street seems to be drawn as a phantom, passing through existing lots.  I found a similar routing of Stuyvesant Street on the 1834 Fireman's Guide map, where it seems to end abruptly near the river:

1834 Fireman's Guide

So I wondered whether there is any remnant of this route on the existing grid.  A quick check of Google Maps showed me a curiously positioned building.  Note Stuyvesant Street to the left and the unusual building to the right:

And zooming in to the block between 1st Avenue and Avenue A, 12th and 13th Streets:

It's very a unusual placement for a building in the middle of the block, and seems less than coincidental since it falls right on the line of the phantom Stuyvesant Street.  The mystery continues...


An anonymous poster provided the address of the building, which allowed me to lookup the tax map.  Although recently constructed (according to the poster), the building appears situated to maximize its use of the lot.  Still may mean absolutely nothing, but that lot shape sure is odd!


Anonymous said...

That's 407 E 12th. It was built in the late 90s, and angles that way to provide a courtyard and additional windows (e.g., higher prices) for the units in the back. Just a coincidence.

pinhead said...

@Anonymous 4:19
Thanks for the address info--very helpful. I added some update material.

Jill said...

There are loads of hidden buildings behind buildings in the EV. You have to spend a lot of time on various roofs to see them. I've always found them mysterious and exciting (I look over one through my back window).

Anonymous said...

Stuyvesant st. certainly did extend all the way to the riverbank, which was then roughly at Ave A.

See for instance :

"The most northerly, Bouwerie No. 1, was a tract of 60 morgen, or 120 acres. Its boundaries, on the modern map, were: starting at the junction of the Bowery and Stuyvesant Street, northwest along the Bowery to about halfway between present Twelfth and Thirteenth streets; then northeast to Eighteenth Street and First Avenue, which was at that time on the river bank; southwest along the East River shore to Fifteenth Street about one-third of a block east of Avenue A; then southeast along Stuyvesant Street to St. Mark Place and the Bowery. "

That fireman's map shows the earlier riverbank, and stuyvesant st seems end in a pier jutting into the river.

In fact the stuyvesant family had "mapped a complete street plan" for the area which followed true compass directions (e.g. in line with stuyvesant street rather than the current grid). I am not sure how much of it was built out, but only current stuyvesant st remains. See

That map shows, in blue, a plot north of stuyvesant marked "st mark's cemetery"... i think this might be the cemetery which was relocated to Evergreen as in ?? but perhaps not, the timing might not fit as the grid seems to have been built out in the previous decades.

Anonymous said...

also, in regards to the lot shapes, the ward 17 map you posted shows plenty of irregular lot shapes along the previous stuyvesant st. - obviously related to the presence of the st, perhaps to accommodate existing structures which had been built along the old stuyvesant at.

So in that sense, 407 E 12th st. is a distant shadow of the old stuyvesant st.... even though it was built recently, its shape reflects the oddly shaped lot, which in turn reflects the onetime presence of stuyvesant st.


pinhead said...

Geoff - Thanks for all your efforts and input! I suspected the building's orientation had some distant relationship to the Stuyvesant farm and you've closed the loop. I'll update the post shortly.

Anonymous said...

Okay, one more bit of detail:

Although most of the lots have been squared up since 1881, there are a few remaining lot lines running parallel to the old location of stuyvesant st:

The north edge of stuyvesant st runs through an odd line in the middle of 1/2/11/12 block, and continues on to tiny jag in the 1/A/13/14 block. In fact if you check out the satellite view of 1/A/13/14 you can see that the Immaculate Conception School has a funny notch cut out of the back of it to accommodate the lot line.

415 e 12th st, which houses academy records, also has a east-west lot line between its neighbor to the back... this can be seen in the google satellite view you linked to.

All other traces of Stuyvesant st east of 2nd ave seem to have been erased.


Anonymous said...

i have seen this and looked at it too.
between the david rumsey map collection and the nypl there does seem to have been a mapped street through here that did end in a pier. but most of it would have gone through field.
there are other remnants of the lot lines that were drawn from this road, next to the school on 11th & 12th street:
which was the site of a brewery at one time.
a small leftover of this street line is also at the post office on 13th street:

nyc is full of property lines that break the grid as they follow old farm lots. for example, the diagonal line going through the bowery/2nd-1st/2nd block belongs to a farm from the late 1700s:,-10,-14,-15-&-17,-N?sort=Pub_List_No_InitialSort%2CPub_Date%2CPub_List_No%2CSeries_No&qvq=w4s:/what/City+Atlas/Insurance,+Fire/where/New+York/New+York+%28N.Y.%29/;sort:Pub_List_No_InitialSort,Pub_Date,Pub_List_No,Series_No;lc:RUMSEY~8~1&mi=13&trs=51

Anonymous said...

What happened to the bodies buried in the graveyard mapped between
1st and 2nd Avenues?

Anonymous said...

The bodies interred at the old St Mark's Cemetery on the north side of Stuyvesant, approx now 11th and 1st/A, were relocated to other places, primarily a block of land the church acquired within Evergreen Cemetery.

From a book marking the 100-year anniversary of the church

"Mr. Peter Stuyvesant gave liberally to the same object, conveying to the vestry a lot 56x95 feet on what is now Eleventh Street, as the site of a parsonage, and thereafter presenting them with another plot on the same street, 242x190 feet, for a cemetery."

and later

"In 1803 Mr. Peter Stuyvesant presented the parish with the plot of ground on Eleventh Street, between First and Second Avenues, which has been already mentioned, for a burial place. In 1851 a plot was purchased in the Cemetery of the Evergreens, to which the bodies were removed from the ground in Eleventh Street"

Although the cemetery was "closed" approx 1850, and some bodies had been relocated to various places since, it was not until 1864 they relocated the final 150 remaining bodies en masse to Evergreen... as reported in the NY Times article linked above.