Old Streets of New York
Stuyvesant Farm GridAs Director General of the New Netherlands, Peter Stuyvesant was entitled to occupy Bowery No. 1, the largest and best of the farms that the Dutch West India Company had set aside for the its officers. In 1651 he purchased this farm outright from his employers, along with part of Bowery No. 2 on the south and a large tract of meadowland to the north, totaling over 300 acres. Stuyvesant and his descendents further expanded the family's holdings. At their greatest extent, in the early 18th century, they comprised the bulk of the land east of the present Bowery and Fourth Avenue from Stanton Street north to East 30th Street.
About 1788 Petrus Stuyvesant (1707-1805), great-grandson of the Dutch governor, laid out a grid of streets on his land. It was centered on Stuyvesant Street, which had been the old dividing line between Bowery Nos. 1 and 2. Proceeding south from Stuyvesant Street were streets named Nicholas William, Verplanck and Quick. North of Stuyvesant Street were Peter, Governor, Gerard, Winthrop and Ten Broeck Streets. At right angles to these were four streets named after Petrus' four daughters. Proceeding east from the Bowery they were Judith, Eliza, Margaret and Cornelia Streets.
The Mangin-Goerck Plan of 1803 expanded this grid considerably, adding seven streets north of Ten Broeck (Dow, White Cruger, Gates, Livingston, Dove and Spruce); five streets south of Quick (Rensselaer, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Antwerp and Bruges); and two streets east of Cornelia (Martha and Hariot).
Portions of the streets in Petrus' original grid, those nearest Stuyvesant Street and the Bowery, were developed. Lots were leased and buildings erected. But none of the additional streets in Mangin's expanded grid appears to have existed except on paper.
By the time the Commissioners' Plan was adopted, Petrus Stuyvesant had died and the de facto head of the family was Peter Gerard Stuyvesant (1778-1847). He adapted quickly to the new street layout and may even have had some input to it. Apart from being one of the city's largest private landowners he had, in 1809, married the daughter of commissioner John Rutherfurd. (See Rutherfurd Place.)
Today the only remnant of the Stuyvesant Farm Grid is Stuyvesant Street between the former Bowery (now Fourth Avenue) and Second Avenue. The short link between Fourth and Third Avenues is now part of Astor Place.
Part of the old Governor's 1651 purchase, mainly along the Bowery and Fourth Avenue, remained in the hands of Stuyvesant descendants until the death of Peter Winthrop Rutherfurd Stuyvesant in 1970, probably the longest record of continuous family ownership in the city's history.
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© 2005 by Gilbert Tauber