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Street Beat: Rutgers, Henry, Catherine, Division and Crosby (And a Little Bit o’ Oak)
There comes a time in every historian’s life where etymologies are no longer for our own edification and for this gal – specifically a time when I get to reveal little and well known etymologies behind the streets of New York. I bet you can all name at least two songs about the streets of NYC, so why not know who dubbed them and why? Can’t think of a reason? Good ’cause nothing can stop me now!
So many of these I know from having read over 20 books on the subject. Etymologies are a passion of mine. I nerded out enough to include “researching etymologies” on my inoperative OKcupid account. Yes. I just admitted that out loud and in print.
Oh, origins! I’m so excited I can hardly wait for this intro to be complete!
I gave you a brief insight into what this series would be like with Hardly A Saint in Sight where I delved into the origin of Stuyvesant Street.
Let us please recall the lack of creative naming conventions and the fact that almost all of the city’s founding families married in to one another.
Now some of you may feel like saying “duh” to many of the street origins or if you are more refined, may simply roll an eye or two throughout this new Boogie series, but please remember so many of our readers are not New Yorkers (or if they are, refreshers are always nice).
Without further ado, Rutgers Street, Catherine Street, Henry Street, Division Street and Crosby Street (and a little bit o’ Oak):
In 1745, Hendrick Rutgers and Catharine De Peyster had a son named Henry.
And on that farm they had a…
Named after Catharine (or Catherine).
Catherine would have many rebirths (place names that is).
According to Oldstreets.com:
Catharine Alley (2). (L19) Ran from Cherry to South Streets between Catharine and Market Streets.
Catharine Alley or Place (1). (L18-M19) The existing Catharine Lane was so named as early as 1797, but has also been called both an alley and a place.
Catharine Market. (L18-L19) In Catharine Slip from 1786 to ca. 1910. Initially ran from Cherry to Water Street, later extended to the present South Street.
Catharine Slip. (curr.) At the foot of the present Catharine Street. It was built in the 1780s, extended outward in stages, and entirely filled by 1814. The filled-in area from Cherry to South Streets is still called Catherine Slip. [S]
Catharine Street (1). (L18-E19) Now Worth Street between Hudson and Centre Streets. Sometimes called Little Catharine Street. It had become Anthony Street by 1804 and was renamed Worth Street in 1855.
Catharine Street (2). (M-L18?) According to Post, a former name of Pearl Street between Broadway and Elm Street. See also Magazine Street.
Catharine Street (3). (M-L18?) According to Post, a former name of Harrison Street.
Catharine Street (4). (E19) Now Waverly Place between Christopher and Bank Streets. It was changed to Factory Street in 1813 and to Waverly Place in 1853.
Catharine Street (5). (L18-E19) A former name of Mulberry Street between Bayard and Bleecker Streets. Known as Ryndert Street in 1767, it was labeled Catherine Street in 1797 but had become part of Mulberry Street by 1803.
The boundary where the Rutgers’ farm met De Lancey’s was/is Division Street.
Later on in life, Henry Rutgers adopted his sister’s son, William Bedlow Crosby. Crosby inherited the Rutgers’ wealth and also earned himself a street.
Rutgers Street and Oak Street also have a connection – once upon the 18th century, according to The Old Merchants of New York City, Volume 1, by Joseph Alfred Scoville, in the 1790s, a shipping merchant named John Robins lived on the original Rutgers Street. He fell ill to yellow fever and so Rutgers decided he would rather a “nice street named after him.” Hence the change.
Rutgers became Oak Street running from Pearl to Catherine, yet disappeared in 1947 to make way for the Alfred E. Smith houses.
Rutgers also has a slip, a park and a wharf/pier named after him on the Lower East Side. You can see the slip all the way at the top and here:
Rutgers died in New York City on February 17, 1830, at the age of 84.
A recent investigation by Rutgers University revealed that he had been buried in and exhumed from two Dutch Reformed Lower Manhattan cemeteries, both defunct since the mid-1800s, before finally coming to rest in a mass grave in Brooklyn. The site, marked by a plain, flat concrete slab bearing only the initials D.R.C.-N.Y. for “Dutch Reformed Church-New York,” would probably have pleased Rutgers, a modest man who insisted that “no fuss” be made at his passing.
That mass grave would be in Green-Wood Cemetery.
And that concludes, yada, yada. I’ll save my conclusions for the Boogie Beats (a.k.a. when I turn back into the Ghost of Neighborhoods’ past).
First Street Beat complete, ’bout fifty more on the way.