Lafayette Street (Manhattan)

Lafayette Street is a city street in New York City's Lower Manhattan. Originally, the part of the street below Canal Street was called Elm Street.

The street originates from the intersection of Reade Street and Centre Street in Lower Manhattan; this intersection is one block north of City Hall. The one-way street then successively runs through Chinatown, SoHo, and the eastern fringe of Greenwich Village and finally, between East 9th Street and East 10th Street, joins with Fourth Avenue. A buffered bike lane runs along the left edge. In the 20th century the street became known, along with other notable local streets in the Lower East Side, for housing a poor, artistic population. Later, gentrification all but eliminated the poor from the street.fact|date=August 2007

The IRT Lexington Avenue Line runs under Lafayette Street, with stops at Spring Street, Bleecker Street, and Astor Place.

The street originated as a real estate speculation by John Jacob Astor, who had bought a large market garden in 1804, for $45,000, and leased part of the site to a Frenchman named Delacroix, who erected a popular resort and called it "Vauxhall Gardens" after the famous resort on the edge of London. When the lease expired in 1825, Astor cut a new street through it, wheich he named Lafayette Place, commemorating the Revolutionary war hero, who had returned to a rapturous reception in America the previous year. Lots along both sides of the new street sold briskly, earning Astor many times what he had paid for the land two decades before. [Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace, "Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898" (Oxford University Press) 1999:448.] The grandest was the terrace of matching marble-fronted Greek Revival houses on the west side of the street, called La Grange Terrace when it was built in 1833, but known to New Yorkers as "Colonnade Row" for the two-story order of Corinthian columns that unified its fronts; the nine residences each sold for as much as $30,000; four that remain are the only survivors of the first fashionable residential phase of Lafayette Street, which gained its new name when it was extended noerthwards to join Astor Place.

The change in Lafayette Street's history is epitomized by the construction of the Schermerhorn building in 1888 to replace the Schermerhorn mansion, where Mrs William Colford Schermerhorn redecorated the interior to resemble Louis XV's Versailles, it was thought, to give a French-themed costume ball in 1854 for six hundred New Yorkers, [Burrows and Wallace 1999:723.] at which the German Cotillion had been introduced in America. [Lloyd R. Morris, "Incredible New York: Life and Low Life of Last Hundred Years" 1979:17-19] A sign of changing times, in 1860 the W.C. Schermerhorns moved uptown to 49 West 23rd Street. [ [http://www.schenectadyhistory.org/families/schermerhorn/chronicles/3b.html#s121 Schermerhorn genealogy] .] Before long, half of Colonnade Row was demolished to make way for the warehouse, after A.T. Stewart had constructed a palatial retail premises (1862) that occupied the full block between Broadway and the upper reaches of Lafayette Street, between 8th and 9th Streets.

Distinct landmarks around Lafayette Street include: [ [http://home.nyc.rr.com/jkn/nysonglines/lafayette.htm New York Songlines] ]
*Alamo, a cube-shaped sculpture, around East 8th Street and Astor Place
* Astor Library (1854), founded by John Jacob Astor, now housing The Public Theater
*The Schermerhorn Building, built for the Schermerhorns in 1888 to designs by Henry Janeway Hardenbergh, to replace the Schermerhorn mansion.
*The War Resisters League and the NoHo Star on Bleecker Street;
*The Puck Building on East Houston Street
*The New York City Rescue Mission on White Street
*The Ahrens Building, built by George Henry Griebel, and the City Municipal Court Building on the south side of White Street
*Family Court on Franklin Street
*The Department of Health, Hospitals, & Sanitation on Leonard Street
*Federal Plaza, which includes the Jacob J. Javits Federal Office Building on Worth Street
*Foley Square, a dedication to the Tammany Hall master, "Big Tom" Foley, on Pearl Street

For three Saturdays in August 2008 the New York City Department of Transportation closed Lafayette Street, Park Avenue, and part of East 72nd Street to motor traffic, as a "Summer Streets" program to encourage non-motor uses. [ [http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/summerstreets/html/home/home.shtml Summer Streets] ]

ee also

*Lower Manhattan
*Lower East Side
*Merchant's House Museum

References


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