Social New York under the Georges, 1714-1776: Houses, Streets, and Country Homes, with Chapters on Fashions, Furniture, China, Plate, and Manners

By Esther Singleton | Go to book overview

II
VACANT LAND AND TYPICAL HOUSES

WHEN Manhattan Island was first settled, it was covered with trees, with the exception of the low-lying salt meadows. Much of the timber was soon cleared away to make room for meadows and gardens, so necessary to the comfort and pleasure of the English as well as the Dutch.

What is now Exchange Place was originally called Garden Street, and this Street was again called Garden Street in 1728. Maiden Lane was originally the Green Lane. The Corporation under the English rule were always willing to have the city beautified. The inhabitants in 1708 received permission to plant trees in front of their houses. Fifty years later, trees were still a conspicuous feature of the streets.

Swamps, marshes and streams were plentiful. Broad Street was originally a marshy tract through which the Dutch had made the "Graft" or canal. At the foot, it was crossed by a bridge that gave its name to Bridge Street. At the mouth of the inlet was one of the principal landing places for vessels.

Other swampy districts that became well-known landmarks were Beekman's Swamp or Cripple Bush, and a swamp on De Lancey's estate in Greenwich village. The former was below Pearl Street and was not drained till comparatively late. William Wal

-15-

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