Naming New York: Manhattan Places and How They Got Their Names

Naming New York: Manhattan Places and How They Got Their Names

by Sanna Feirstein, Eliza F. Mayo
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New York University Press


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Naming New York: Manhattan Places and How They Got Their Names

New York is the oldest continually occupied city in America, yet its rich history is largely obscured by development. New Yorkers are surrounded by hundreds of place names, from those that survive from Manhattan's earliest days as a Dutch trading post to those that reflect the city's rich colonial, African and immigrant heritage. They provide a veritable encyclopedia of the city's history. Buildings may come and go, but place names are surprisingly durable.

Naming New York is a comprehensive compilation and explanation of the names of Manhattan's streets, alleys, avenues, plazas, parks and corners. It surveys names currently in use and includes the oldest and the newest honorific "add-on" names, from Astor Place to Yitzak Rabin Way.

Whether you're a history or trivia buff, tourist, or just fascinated by place names, learning about the origins of these mostly unexamined sources enriches one's experience of the city, and transforms a simple neighborhood errand into a trip through time.

For example:

Bowery: In the 17th century, Dutch farms known as "bowerij" were laid out in this section of Manhattan along the path of an old Indian trail. Known since that time as the Bowery, the thoroughfare became the first section of the Post Road from New York City to Boston.

Houston Street: For William Houstoun, 1757-1812, of a prominent Georgia family, who married a daughter of Manhattan landowner Nicholas Bayard III. The Georgia provenance of the name accounts for its pronunciation and spelling both of which distinguish it from the Texas city.

Wall Street: Follows the line of the city wall that the Dutch erected in 1653 across the northern perimeter of New Amsterdam to protect against attack from the British in New England.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780814727126
Publisher: New York University Press
Publication date: 04/01/2001
Pages: 207
Sales rank: 841,878
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.51(d)

About the Author

Sanna Feirstein is a docent at the New-York Historical Society.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Sanna Feirstein has given us an entertaining, lively and well-researched account of how the names of Manhattan's streets, squares, and neighborhoods came to be. This book can be read for pleasure and profit by history buffs and tourists alike. Hats off!"

-Kenneth T. Jackson,Columbia University and Editor-in-Chief of The Encyclopedia of New York City

"Sanna Feirstein has compiled a fascinating study of the derivation of New York City's street names, ranging from the most obvious to the most obscure. She has turned up information that will surprise even those who know the city well. Everyone who relishes walking through New York City will enjoy this invaluable resource."

-Andrew S. Dolkart,author of Morningside Heights

"Naming New York is more than a compendium of names, it is a mini-encyclopedia unto itself, a paradise regained for anyone interested in why places are named what they are. This is great stuff."

-John Tauranac,author of Manhattan Block by Block

"Even natives to the Big Apple are unlikely to know many of the facts that Feirstein has uncovered in this little gem."

-Publisher's Weekly

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Naming New York: Manhattan Places and How They Got Their Names 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
manirul01 More than 1 year ago
Awesome....!Beautiful....!Wonderful....!I really enjoy it.....!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful book for New Yorkers and tourists alike.It is a fun way to appreciate the historical development of the island of Manhattan.I used it to explore Manhattan neighborhood by neighborhood. What's in a name? Everything, as this this book makes clear.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have lived in my great hometown, New York City, for over 30 years. Regardless of this fact, I never actually knew half of the history that surrounds each and every street. Feirstein has an eloquent way of putting historical facts that could once seem daunting, into an accessible, fun, and original style. Much better than other tourist books on the city, 'Naming New York' encompasses a eloquence and a personal feel. It can be appreciated not only by people new to the city but by long time residents like myself. Do buy this book. You won't regret it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read many history-related books in my day, but not one has been as accessible and easy to read as Naming New York. Feirstein does an incredible job of taking information and presenting it in an interesting and informative way. After reading each entry, I came away with a new fact or detail about New York. Naming New York makes one aware that history constantly surrounds us, and before reading this book, I never quite appreciated this fact.