Street Beat: Origins of a Ludlow

Posted on: January 16th, 2013 at 11:31 am by

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Straight to it – Street Beat Ludlow begins now.

From the New York Times:

Ludlow Street — a seven-block flank to the east of Little Italy that runs south from East Houston down to Canal Street — leads a kind of double life, day versus night, and north versus south. The street is cut into neat northern and southern halves by Delancey Street. Katz’s anchors the northern end at Houston and Ludlow, and the Boe Fook funeral home marks the southern end near Canal Street, where the border with Chinatown gets a little blurry.

“It’s a nice mix,” said Emanuela Magnusson, the owner and principal of EFM Design and Architecture, who lives on Ludlow Street. “It’s a neighborhood transforming instead of a planned gentrification.”

That was published in 2010. In almost three years, too much has changed and it is my self-appointed duty to let you know the origin. So, if you are a hipster making a home, a Lower East Side vet or somewhere in-between – here’s why Ludlow is Ludlow.
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[The Old Merchants of New York City – Joseph Alfred Scoville]Gabriel Ludlow was clerk of the House of Assembly and one of the original vestrymen of Trinity Church.

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[The Old Merchants of New York City – Joseph Alfred Scoville]The male descendants chose professions in law or the mercantile business and a handful of Ludlows are buried in Trinity Church cemetery.

Gabriel’s grandson, Carey, had a daughter named Catharine and she married into another wealthy merchant family (yes, that merchant family intermarriage again – the Mortons of Morton street in the West Village), setting up house and hearth on State Street. The Mortons had a pier (see below) which plays right along with the first families/founding families/merchant families of old New York and their naming conventions.

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[what remains]Carey Ludlow bought his granddaughter and her new husband a home.  It looked just like this with 26 apartments (rooms) and a double stairway.

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[History of the City of New York: Its Origin, Rise and Progress: Martha Joanna Lamb]This stunning Federal style home no longer stands, but a fine idea of how it appeared still remains (praise the lawd!)- a small digression – say hello to No. 9  State Street’s neighbor, No. 7: the James Watson House (NY Senator from 1798-1800) now the Elizabeth Ann Seton rectory.

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[Copyright: bastix]

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No sense dwelling on the past unless you are me.

Back to Ludlow.

The late 18th and early 19th century saw our little village burgeon into a city while the Nation was embedded in wars. And herein lies the controversy.

There is yet another Ludlow to whom the street is attributed to:

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For all you war buffs out there, June 1, 1813 aboard the frigate [USS] Chesapeake during it’s battle with the frigate HMS (His Majesty’s Ship) Shannon Captain James Lawrence of the Chesapeake was mortally wounded. His final order was to Lieutenant Ludlow:

Tell the men to fire faster and not give up the ship. Fight her till she sinks.

For all you non-war buffs out there, the Chesapeake was one of the original six frigates built for the adolescent American Navy (which traces its roots to the Continental Navy, October 13, 1775; so we’re talking 1790s).  On March 27, 1794, the original six were built and of them, one, the USS Constitution, is still active. The Chesapeake did not fight ’til she sank. She was captured by the HMS Shannon and  sold for timber in 1820.

Ludlow would be killed in the same battle with HMS Shannon and both he and Lawrence are buried together in Trinity Church cemetery with full military and Freemason honors.

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[Photo: Dan Silva]

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[Photo: Dan Silva]Looks like a Street Beat mystery to me.

Both stories are feasible so while you walk on top of asphalt on top of cobblestones (cobblestone streets were easier on horse hooves) on top of dirt – take a moment to remember the origin(s).

Every single inch of our City seeps with history.

Let’s see what we find next…

One brick at a time for my stunning and gritty. Peace.

See other Street Beat stories here.

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