Bowery Number 3

When New Amsterdam was under the control of the Dutch East India Company, the company laid out several large farms, or boweries, in the countryside northeast of the city for the use of company officers. The largest and best of these farms was Bowery Number 1, a 120-acre plot reserved for the Director General and granted in 1651 to Petrus Stuyvesant, the last director under Dutch control of the island.

South of Bowery Number 1 was Bowery Number 2, also granted to Stuyvesant. Bowery Number 3 was situated south of the second bowery and was granted to Gerrit Hendrcksen in 1645 and 1654. All three boweries were bordered on the west by the Bowery Lane, corresponding to modern Bowery.

Bowery Number 3
The Schout’s Bowery, Bowery Number 3
Image via NYPL Digital Collection

¬†Also called the Schout’s Bowery, Bowery Number 3 was about 50 acres and was sold to Phillip Minthorne, who divided the western half of the property into nine individual farms, one for each of his children. (Much of the eastern half of the bowery was sold to John Jacob Astor.) This fanlike arrangements of Minthorne farms is clearly visible in the 1776 Ratzer map below.

Minthorne Farm 1776
The Minthorne Farms, 1776
Image via NYPL Digital Collection

By the early 19th Century, the city had grown into the southernmost of the Minthorne farms. The farms were located at the intersection of the old city and the new rectangular street grid adopted in 1811 and some oddly-shaped parcels were created where the old property lines clashed with the new parallel streets. When John Randel surveyed the island beginning in 1818, this clash was evident.

Randel Map of Farms
Minthorne Farm Lines in the New Grid Plan
North Street is now East Houston, and has been widened to the north.
Image via Museum of the City of New York

What is remarkable is that some 200 years later, the patterns of these early farms are still evident, as can be seen in the current New York City tax maps that show modern property lines.

2013 Tax Map
Many current property lines follow the old boundaries of the Minthorne farms.
Image via nyc.gov

The angled south wall of this building at East 1st Street and 2nd Avenue (Block 443, Lot 7 above) runs parallel to the old southern boundary of Bowery Number 3, which is marked by the angled fence in the lot south of the building (Lot 6 above).

E 1st and 2nd Ave
East 1st Street and 2nd Avenue
Image via Google Maps

Several of the northern Minthorne farms belonged to Mangle Minthorne by 1818, and most of the eastern half of the old Schout’s Bowery belonged to John Jacob Astor. That meant fewer boundaries to thwart the grid, so modern property lines in the rest of the area were oriented to the parallel streets. There is one exception, however, where a small portion of the old northern border of Bowery Number 3 is still evident.

Hillyer Farm
The diagonal property line in this block marks part of the northern boundary of Bowery Number 3.
Image via nyc.gov

Looking back at Randel’s farm map, it appears this diagonal property line corresponds with the northern line of the farm of William Hillyer, which was carved from the eastern half of the old bowery, surrounded by Astor property.

HIllyer 1818
Part of the northern line of Bowery Number 3 (in blue), bordering the farm of William Hillyer.
Image via Museum of the City of New York

The modern map holds another ghost of the Minthorne farms in the blind alley called Extra Place.

Extra Place
Image via openstreetmap.org

The story goes that when Phillip Minthorne was dividing his property into nine equal portions for his heirs, there was a small oddly-shaped “extra” plot at the southwest corner. This plot is visible on the Ratzer map below. Modern Extra Place stands at the eastern border of this parcel.

Extra Place
The “extra” Minthorne parcel
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