Stuyvesant Street

Peter Stuyvesant’s Bowery No. 1 was the largest of the farms provided to officers of the Dutch West Indies Company. He purchased the farm from the company in 1651, as well as part of Bowery No. 2 to the south, and over the succeeding generations his family expanded the estate to include much of what is now the East Village. In 1788, Petrus Stuyvesant, the great-grandson of Peter, laid out a grid of streets across the farm in anticipation of the expansion of the city from the south. This grid was expanded by the Mangin-Goerck Plan in 1808.

The Stuyvesant and Mangin-Goerck grid was oriented to Stuyvesant Street, which formed the border between Boweries 1 and 2, and which ran roughly east and west. The Commissioners’ Plan of 1811 that set out the current grid is oriented to a central axis that runs the length of the island, however. As the city expanded, the Commissioners’ grid was adopted on the Stuyvesant property rather than the earlier-proposed grids.

The exception was Stuyvesant Street. This east-west road ran from the Bowery to the waterfront (which at that time was located further inland – see the illustration above). Portions of Stuyvesant Street were closed as the current street grid was adopted, but a short section leading from the Bowery to St. Mark’s Church was kept open. Most of this section is still open, although it now stops at 3rd Avenue.

Some remnants of the closed sections of Stuyvesant are still visible in the form of oddly-shaped lots that were once oriented to the old street. The block illustrated below bordered by 1st Avenue, Avenue A, East 12th and E 13th Streets contains several angled buildings that are built on some of these odd lots.

While these internal property lines are difficult to see from the street, there is one indication of the old street that can still be seen easily. St. Mark’s Church that stands at the eastern end of the present Stuyvesant Street once had a “free” cemetery located farther down the street, in the block now bordered by 1st and 2nd Avenues and East 11th and 12th Streets. This cemetery was vacated in 1864 as the surrounding property became developed, however the lines of the southeast corner of the graveyard are still evident.

The east half of the block is taken up by Public School 19, which has a playground to the west of the building. From the sidewalk on E 11th, a section of angled fence is visible at the north end of the basketball court. This angled fence, visible in the lower left part of the aerial photo below, marks the former southeast corner of the St. Mark’s Cemetery. The building that stands on E 12th to the west of the playground also has an angled wall which runs along what was the eastern edge of the cemetery plot.

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