info 07.24.17

Stuyvesant Street
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The image here is a bird's-eye view of the 18th-century Stuyvesant home, roughly at First Avenue and 16th Street, looking southeast. The estate, as of 1775, included what would now be about 50 blocks. Stuyvesant Street (from 10th to Astor Place, Second Avenue to Third) makes up one side of the Renwick Triangle, completed in 1861. It is thought to be the plan of James Renwick, architect of St. Patrick's and Grace Church. The houses were completed in 1861 as a result of speculation (fueled by proximity to the Stuyvesants) that this area would become one of the more fashionable areas. McSorley's, a block away, had already been in business for 7 years.

This was Stuyvesant land since the 1600s, when Peter Stuyvesant was the last Dutch governor of New Amsterdam. As explained in Charles Lockwood's Manhattan Moves Uptown, Stuyvesant's grandson, Petrus, mapped his property in 1789 by true east and west rather than the later grid of Manhattan, which matches the island's axis. After the institution of the city's grid in 1811, all of the other streets and houses that did not follow the grid were changed, and houses were demolished. The Stuyvesants, being the Stuyvesants, got to keep their street (at that time the driveway to the mansion) on its original axis, as it remains today. Numbers 21 and 44 Stuyvesant housed Stuyvesants when they were built. The houses are brick, Anglo-Italianate in style except for number 21.

Twenty-one Stuyvesant, the Federal-style Stuyvesant-Fish residence, was built in 1804 by Peter Stuyvesant's great-grandson for his daughter Elizabeth's marriage to Nicholas Fish. It is now a National Historic Landmark. On the corner, The St. Mark's-in-the-Bowery Church is one of Manhattan's oldest worship sites. The late-Georgian church is made of fieldstone and was completed in 1799, though the steeple and the portico came later. Peter Stuyvesant is buried on the church's east side, exactly where his private chapel was before the church was built.

A. T. Stewart, who founded the store that became Wanamaker's, was resting in peace at St. Mark's when his body was snatched from its grave and held for $20,000 ransom. After it was eventually paid by his widow the body was returned, but then understandably interred elsewhere.

The church has a long relationship with poets, dancers, and theatre people. Kahlil Gibran read there in 1919, and Isadora Duncan danced there in 1922. Others who have read or performed are William Carlos Williams, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Martha Graham, and Ben Hecht. Frank Lloyd Wright was a member of the church. The Theater Project, founded in 1964 as Theater Genesis, produced Sam Shepard's first two plays. The Poetry Project (1966) had heavy involvement in its early years from Allen Ginsberg, Anne Waldman, and Paul Blackburn.





















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