Birmingham Street

Birmingham Street, sometimes also called Birmingham Alley, was a narrow one-block street that connected Henry and Madison Streets between Market and Pike Streets. The origin of the name is not clear, but it was possibly simply named for the English industrial city. It was opened some time prior to 1827.

Birmingham Street survived the construction of the Manhattan Bridge, shown in gray in the illustration, despite one of the supports being placed hard by the southern end of the street at Madison.

Birmingham was renamed in June, 1954 as part of an unusual name-swap undertaken by the City Council. Livingston Place, the two block street on the east side of Stuyvesant Square, was renamed Nathan D. Perlman Place after the prominent judge and philanthropist who died in 1953. Perhaps anticipating some opposition from the public, the council at the same time gave the name Livingston to Birmingham Street.

There was indeed a small flurry of opposition to the renaming of Livingston Place, which had been named for the Livingston family, an old New York line that was closely allied with the Stuyvesant family through marriage. A small group tried to raise support for changing Perlman Place back to Livingston, but its efforts were unsuccessful. The New York Times ran an editorial criticizing the renaming of old streets, saying “such changes are confusing to the public, they make maps obsolete, they break the traditions of the past.” (June 22, 1954)

Nobody appeared to lament the loss of the name of Birmingham Street, however. The street was in the industrial part of the city, not along a nicely-fenced park, and it was closed not long after being renamed, in 1962. The city now owns the property and what was once Birmingham Street is currently a parking area for the water department.

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