Appleton’s Dictionary of Greater New York And Its Neighborhood (1905):

Maiden Lane

A Street running from Broadway between John and Liberty Sts., east to the East River, is one of the most ancient in New York. It was established as a road in the earliest times of the Dutch, its course through a valley being the easiest route of passage from the two great highways along the North [ Hudson ]and East River sides and was from the first used as such. It was then known as “T’Maagde Paatje,” or the Maidens Path. It was laid out as a street about 1693, during the governorship of Colonel Fletcher, when it received its present name. At present it is lined with substantial stores and is the center of the wholesale jewelry trade.     

Plan of the city of New York in North America (1776)

Maiden Lane, New York. Jewelry centre of the world (ca. 1885)

Greenwich Village: “Sapokanikan” – “Noortwijck” – “Groenwyck”
“As the name implies, Greenwich Village was once a country hamlet, a rural village located two miles north of the original seventeenth century Manhattan settlement. Before the acquisition of Manhattan by the Dutch in 1609, the area we call Greenwich Village was a Lenape Indian village known as Sapokanikan, meaning “Tobacco Field”…And indeed tobacco was cultivated there. In 1629, Wouter Van Twiller, a clerk working for the Dutch West India Company and who later served as director of New Amsterdam (between 1633 and 1638), was granted the rights to two hundred acres located at and around what is now Gansevoort Street, where he established a tobacco farm…The Dutch called this corner of Manhattan “Noortwijck,” or “Noortwyck,” meaning Northern District, a name that was soon changed to “Groenwijk,” Green District, probably due to its pastoral beauty. With the transfer of ownership of Manhattan Island to the English in 1664, the name Groenwijck was Anglicized and became “Greenwich.”

Text: Exploring the Original West Village by Alfred Pommer and Eleanor Winters (2011)
Map: Indian paths in the great metropolis / Reginald Pelham Bolton [NYC Historical]

Appleton’s Dictionary of Greater New York And Its Neighborhood (1905):

Hell Gate

Is the name of the turbulent channel between Astoria, Manhattan and Ward’s Island, where the East River makes a sharp and dangerous turn. The name is merely a corruption of the old Dutch name, which meant a “beautiful passage-way,” in allusion to the picturesque scenery of the place, but in its present form it sufficiently indicates the former character of this channel. A ledge of rocks, projecting from the Long Island shore under the channel and rising at certain points almost to the surface of the water, produced at times such a seething and eddying current as to send terror to the hardiest of its navigators. The United States Government in 1870 decided to free the channel of these obstructions and engineers under the direction of Gen. Newton were engaged for six years drilling the principal rocks and charging them with nitro-glycerine. [sic] In the summer of 1876 the whole mass was exploded; afterward a much larger area was undermined and was blown up on the 10th of October, 1885. This was at the place know as Flood Rock. Little Hell Gate is the strait which divides Ward’s Island on the north from Randall’s Island. 

map: Hell Gate and its approaches, from a trigonometrical survey under the direction of F.R. Hassler and A.D. Bache… (1851)


Appleton’s Dictionary of Greater New York And Its Neighborhood (1905):

Staten Island

Is in shape an irregular triangle…Its area is about 57 square miles, its greatest length 13 miles, and its greatest breadth 8 miles. The island is very hilly, and its shores are almost everywhere dotted with the homes of New York business and professional men, many of whom make it their place of residence all the year round…There is a complete system of railway on the island. One line extends from Tompkinsville to Tottenville, following the longest side of the triangle about a mile from the shore and connects with Perth Amboy, New Jersey, by a steam ferry about every hour. Another line (the Rapid Transit Line) extends from Richmond Beach, on the east side stopping at Stapleton and Tompkinsville, to St. George and thence goes a little south of west to Elizabeth, New Jersey, where it connects with the Baltimore & Ohio road. A bridge has been built across the Arthur Kill for this purpose. The ferry-boats now touch only at St. George, instead of going on to other places…The entire population is nearly 50,000.

map: Atlas of the borough of Richmond, city of New York by (1907) 

image: Greetings from Staten Island (n.d.)

New York City Cemeteries:

Moravian Cemetery
2205 Richmond Road, Staten Island
“This site was used as a public cemetery for at least thirty-five years before it was taken over by the New Dorp Moravian Church circa 1758…The cemetery was used as a burial ground for English soldiers during colonial times. In the section set aside for the exclusive use of the Moravians in 1763, the dead were segregated according to sex. The practice ended in 1819. The Vanderbilt Mausoleum is situated a short distance west of the church. It cost one million dollars when it was erected in the summer of 1885. Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt  and his son, William, are among those interred in the mausoleum.”

Map: Atlas of the borough of Richmond, city of New York (1907)

Text: The Graveyard Shift : a family historian’s guide to New York City cemeteries


Rapid transit systems of greater New York : Interborough subway and elevated lines, Brooklyn Rapid Transit subway & elevated lines (1918)

The Corn Exchange Bank published this 23 x 34 cm black and white rapid transit pamphlet for its customers in 1918. It includes diagrams of NYC’s elevated railway, subway and bus lines that connected the most densely populated areas of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx with the bank’s various branches. 

The Bronx: Louis A. Risse’s Grand Concourse of 1897

Grand Concourse at East 169th Street 

“The Grand Boulevard and Concourse will be 182 feet in width and will provide walks, sidewalks, promenades, bicycle paths, driveways etc. The transverse roads will occupy the central strip of the principal cross streets, on each side of which an exterior strip upon the proper grade of the street will afford access to the abutting property and residences thereon. The Concourse can thus be reached at every intersecting street by all desiring to drive upon it. Its great width and ample provision for every kind of demand that can be made upon its space from walking to speeding makes it perfectly adapted to all the purposes for which a Concourse can be utilized. Two Bicycle paths are provided between the drive and the promenade on either side of the concourse, thus assuring the riders going north and south a direct pathway without the danger of meeting others coming in an opposite direction.”      

Map: Atlas of the borough of the Bronx (1921) / G.W. Bromley 

Appleton’s Dictionary of Greater New York And Its Neighborhood (1905):


The Police Department maintains an effective Detective Bureau. There are also several private detective agencies which do a legitimate business. There are, unfortunately, some others of unsavory reputation, whose methods are semi-criminal. The stranger who needs detective work done had better apply to the police, or to a lawyer of good standing.

Atlas of the borough of Manhattan, city of New York (1916) by G.W. Bromley & Co


Appleton’s Dictionary of Greater New York And Its Neighborhood (1905):


Long practically a part of the great metropolis, the former city of Brooklyn became, Jan. 1, 1898, a division of the “Greater New York.” It is situated on the western end of Long Island, south and east of Manhattan Island, from which it is separated by the East River. At the time of its consolidation with the other boroughs Brooklyn was the fourth city of United States in population, and fourth also in manufacturing and commerce…Originally settled by the Dutch and afterward by New England people, it has been for years drawing to itself that portion of the population of the great city who have drifted hither from the eastern states and who have given to it a conservative character quite in keeping with their puritanical origin. Brooklyn, unlike old New York, is not cosmopolitan, it presents itself to the beholder as a pleasant but rather quiet city…As a place of residence , Brooklyn has many advantages. The greater part of it is considerably elevated above tide-water; the streets are wide and for the most part are at right angles with each other, affording a fine circulation of air. Rents are much lower than in Manhattan. The air, however, especially on [Brooklyn] Heights, is very strong and persons with weak lungs or throat disease will do well to avoid this part of Brooklyn. 

maps: Map of the city of Brooklyn, and village of Williamsburgh (1846) &  “The city of Brooklyn” Atlas of Long Island (1873)  

New York City Cemeteries:

Green-Wood Cemetery (2)
Fifth Avenue and 25th Street, Brooklyn

“Once called “the largest and handsomest [cemetery] in the vicinity of New York.” Green-Wood’s beauty ultimately inspired the contest to design Manhattan’s Central Park. Designed by David Bates Douglass…the 478-acre cemetery was seen “as a rural retreat where visitors could contemplate death as a reconciliation with nature.” Douglass’ plan included trees, flowers, paths with views of Manhattan and New York Harbor. Richard Upjohn, architect of Trinity Church, designed the Main Gate. Erected in 1861, the gate was made of brownstone and crowned with multi-colored slate shingles. Spires, turrets, finials, crockets, and gables distinguished the structure in the gothic revival style.”

Map: Robinson’s atlas of the city of Brooklyn (1886)

Text: The Graveyard Shift : a family historian’s guide to New York City cemeteries

New York City Cemeteries:

Woodlawn Cemetery
Webster Avenue at East 233rd Streets, the Bronx

“Woodlawn Cemetery was founded in 1863. At the time, the land was part of Westchester County; then in 1874, New York City gobbled up the land, and Woodlawn became part of the Bronx. Woodlawn was originally laid out using the rural cemetery ethos that was popular at the time. The design was altered a few years after the cemetery opened to conform to a more open landscaping theme, called the landscape-lawn plan, which meant eliminating fences and encouraging plot owners to have centerpiece monuments surrounded by smaller gravestones. The vast lawns became the perfect canvas for the glorious mausoleums that punctuate the immaculate grounds. By the end of the nineteenth century, Woodlawn had eclipsed Green-Wood in Brooklyn as the place for New York’s movers and shakers to construct their eternal home. The 400-acre cemetery has over 300,000 burials. The addition of a large community mausoleum, a fair amount of undeveloped land, the rise in cremation (which requires less space), and a well-managed endowment fund assures that Woodlawn will continue to be an active cemetery for years to come.”

Map: Atlas of New York and vicinity : from actual surveys (1868)

Text: Stories in Stone New York : A field guide to New York City area cemeteries & their residents 

New York City Cemeteries:

Trinity Churchyard
74 Trinity Place, Manhattan

“The congregation of Trinity Church organized in 1664. Their church was erected on Broadway in 1697 and has been  at that location ever since. It is said that Trinity Church was built upon a burial ground which held the remains of seventy-five Algonquin Indians who perished in a battle with the Dutch in 1643. Trinity Church bordered New Amsterdam’s public burial ground. In February of 1703, the congregation took control of the that cemetery, on condition that the city be allowed to continue using the cemetery…In May of 1784, Trinity decided to prohibit all burials in the graveyard, except for those families who already owned a burial vault. The church noted that due to the great number of interments during the Revolutionary War, it had become difficult to dig a new grave without unearthing another body.  Many bodies were interred less than three feet under. On 18 August 1822, the New York City Common Council passed a law prohibiting burials in Trinity Churchyard. There was a raging yellow fever epidemic that year, and health officials believed that the shallow graves were contributing to the problem.”

Map: Atlas of the borough of Manhattan, city of New York (1916)

Text: The Graveyard Shift : a family historian’s guide to New York City cemeteries

Greenwich Village: Stonewall Inn
“Let’s head for 53 Christopher Street and pay a visit to the Stonewall Inn, birthplace of the modern gay rights movement. The Stonewall Inn began its life as two adjacent stables built in the 1840s. The buildings housed restaurants between the 1930s and 1966, including one called the Stonewall Inn Restaurant during the ‘50s. After being closed for a year, the Stonewall Inn was reopened as a gay bar and dance hall…Increased tensions between the Stonewall Inn regulars and the New York Police Department culminated in the explosive night of June 28, 1969, now known as the night of the Stonewall Riots…The first gay pride march was held on June 28, 1970, commemorating the first anniversary of the riots, and gay pride has become an annual celebration each June.” 

Text: Exploring the Original West Village by Alfred Pommer and Eleanor Winters (2011)
Map: Greenwich Village (1992) / Incentra International Inc. [Greenwich Village, NYC 1992]

The Rockaways: Rockaway Peninsula

“The part of the New York City borough of Queens known as the Rockaway Peninsula stretches west-southwest 11 statute miles from the southwest corner of Long Island in Nassau County…As part of the Long Island Barrier beach system, the Rockaways, which are commonly referred to as Far Rockaway and Rockaway Beach…also acts as a buffer between the beautiful Jamaica Bay to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the south. Many times large destructive storms struck New York City and environs with the peninsula bearing the brunt of the ocean’s rage while protecting Jamaica Bay and the city mainland areas to the north and west." 

map: Map of the borough of Queens, City of New York showing existing & proposed parks and parkways and main arterial highways (1924) / Arthur S. Tuttle
text: The Rockaways by Emil R. Lucev, Sr.

Greenwich Village: “Little Africa”
“In the earliest days the Negro population of New York lived, naturally, in and about the city at the tip of Manhattan Island. In the middle of the last century they lived mainly in the vicinity of Lispenard, Broome, and Spring streets. When Washington Square was the centre of fashionable life, large numbers of Negroes engaged in domestic service in the homes of the rich lived in a fringe of nests to the west and south of the square. As late as 1880 the major portion of the Negro population of the city lived in Sullivan, Bleecker, Thompson, Carmine, and Grove streets, Minetta Lane, and adjacent streets. It is curious to see that some of these nests still persist. Scattered through Greenwich Village and “Little Italy,” small groups of Negroes may be found who have never lived in any other part of the city. Negro New York has passed on and left them stranded and isolated. They are vestiges of a generation long gone by. They appear to be content, however, and probably they view with some scorn the new and rather raw Harlem centre.”

Text: Black Manhattan by James Weldon Johnson (1930)
Map: Atlas of the City of New York (1885) [plate 9] / E. Robinson