Significant Landowner Directory

As the grid plan approached, there were virtually unlimited opportunities, for Colonial- and Federal-era landowners. Throughout Manhattan, every up-and-coming residential hamlet and rural community as well as all the farmland along the riverside railroad track edges, eventually, would succumb to the grid.

It was simple to tap into the northward-moving commercial swath on and off Broadway, or the residential migration along Fifth Avenue and adjacent to Central Park. On-the-spot speculators were handy and ready to forward every transaction. Many gambled and lost their land once an economic boom was followed by a panic.

Also, with the major players, say, an Astor or Wendel, willing to step in and to capitalize with each recurring stock market crash. The long-term investors had the means to amass more farm tracts as the city expanded farther north, along Broadway from Union and Madison Squares to Greeley and Herald to Times Squares and then into the Upper West Side—always northward.

This continual trend of encroaching commercialization on high-end specialty shops and upper-crust brownstone homeowners caused store owners and residents alike to again move on. The “Gold Key of Hanover Square” opened the way for the Goelet family realestate fortune. Their sizable holdings between Union and Madison Square, where Broadway and Fifth Avenue cross one another, provided continuously increasing property values and revenues from their leased holdings.

No doubt the “grid plan” was all-encompassing and without regard to established owner’s boundaries and borders. Farther along Fifth Avenue, third- and fourth-generation Goelets amassed tracts already cut-up into plots, which they further divided into lots, and were way ahead of the crowd there, too.

Although this dead-center alley of resident’s to retailers to commerce buildings, proved to be among the most lucrative lots and plots in Manhattan, the significant outlying areas—those nearby the New Amsterdam settlement, now considered Downtown Manhattan, were great consecutive farm and pasture tracts, which were owned by a few families, namely Stuyvesant, Bayard, De Lancey, Warren, and Moore. Their holdings, as rural estates, could be measured in square miles.

The two largest homesteaders, the Hopper homestead (now, Hell’s Kitchen to Clinton) and Benson Farms (present-day, Southcentral Harlem to northeastern Yorkville) were within the Colonial-era Bloomingdale district or Harlem Commons. Both considered far from civilization when their boundary and border markers were staked out and registered. From the beginning, there was resistance to urbanization as well. First, the landowning families were politically connected powerhouses. The more adventurous among them had improved their tracts prior to the War of Independence. Additionally, farming villages had established themselves between the harbor settlement and Love Lane. The westernmost was Hampstead Hamlet, approximately within the five Tribeca historic districts. It was incorporated into the Trinity Church King’s Farms, in the early 1700s.

The enlarged 1600s Greenwich Hamlet, the “Village” as it is referred to today, began at West Houston Street and was contained between Seventh to Sixth Avenues, which remained intact by the “Grid Plan” designers.

The Bowery Village, beginning on East Houston Street abutting a tax-free farmer’s market, spread to East 12th Street, at Union Square. It ran along the Bowery Road, between Broadway and Second Avenues, centered at Copper Square, the confluence of the Bowery, Astor Place, and Stuyvesant Street. Another community followed the UnionPlace-to-Love-Lane triangular extension of Bloomingdale Road, as East 17th to 21st Street Fifth Avenue, today’s Flatiron and NoMad.

The next semblance of country villages was in the West Nineties to 116th Street, in the northern Bloomingdale District, as Morningside Heights. Below, within the Harlem the Harlem Plains, spreading from West 126th to 130th Street, is Manhattanville. A Lenape trading post, at a shoreline flat region. And, the Harlem Common Village, near to the Harlem Bridge, from East 117th to 128th Streets. Finally, in Upper Manhattan, near to West 168th Street at the Knightsbridge Road, a stagecoach station evolved into a first Washington Heights enclave on improved streets.

As the surface grid brought change, mass transit accelerated the unrelenting grading progression from rough terrain into standard lots. Many additional significant and very asymmetrical outlying Manhattan tracts—whether left fallow or tilled, a country seat or future building site—were amassed shortly after the 1684 British takeover, and consolidated through to 1775.

The significant landowners’ boundaries, by neighborhood—rather than ordered by purchase or deed registration—are based on the John Randel Jr. Manhattan Farm Maps identifications, surveyed in association with Charles Clinton, after 1813, and drawn between 1818 and 1820, north from East Houston Street or Greenwich Avenue at West 13th Street, to the city limit, as West 155th Street.

Wherever there was a question. The matter was resolved, as best as possible, by crossreferencing comments or notations on the Dripp’s Map of 1860 or the 1865 Viele Map of Manhattan boundaries and waterways.

The additional investigator’s estimated boundaries included, for the most part, were unearthed while tracing a parcel’s ownership lineage. They only need to be considered better than interesting accumulated impressions, and far short of flawless. They are, therefore, to be enjoyed, hopefully as asides, and never to serve as proof-positive and absolute identification for the past, present, or future inheritance matters. Or, any other matter, as a matter of fact. Then, by neighborhood, the Significant Landowners of Downtown East, are:

Lower East Side.


Antony Van Corlaer, the village schoolmaster—for courage blowing a bugle warning the settlement of an impending invasion by sea—was awarded a 76-acre riverside tract by Governor-General Peter Stuyvesant. Before retiring to Holland, Van Corlaer sold the acreage, to:

Wilhelmus Beekman continuously expanded the family holdings beyond the Corlaer Hook purchase, to East Houston Street. Gerardus, his son, obtained riverside Harlem Common properties. (Initially, the Harlem Common reach the East Seventies as well as present-day Harlem.

His grandson, James Beekman built Mount Pleasant, the East River mansion, where Washington actually did sleep and Nathan Hale was tried and hanged. Additionally, James’ sister Maria, was Mrs. Nicholas Stuyvesant, who was the neighboring estate owner.

Etienne de Lancey built his family mansion on an early landfill at Pearl and Broad Street. He possessed one-half square mile straddling the Bowery to the wharf district edge (Avenue B), and at Chatham Squares’ north to Stanton Street.

His son, James DeLancey, a British Loyalist, lost the entirety when Commissioners of Forfeiture award the de Lancey Farm East and West to Corporation of the City of New York.

James’ sister, Lady Susannah de Lancey Warren, and their brother Oliver De Lancey, therefore, all Etienne de Lancey’s surviving children, lived on neighboring Greenwich District estates.

Alphabet City.

Based on the East River property lines, which moved sharply southwest, between First and Ninth Streets and to Avenue B, the owners were Abijah Hammond, Brown & Eckford, Judith Winthrop, and Morgan Lewis. (On the river, between East Seventh to Tenth Streets, spanning to Avenue C, the designated open space, Market Place, was eliminated.)

Between Avenue C and First Avenue, the far smaller plots were subdivided and owned by Peter

Stuyvesant descendants, either as, Fish, Ten Broeck, Winthrop, or Margaret Stuyvesant.

The largest tract, sprawling unevenly from First to Eighth Streets as well as unequally from Avenue C to First Avenue, was owned by John Jacob Astor.

Along First and Second Streets, from First to Second Avenue, was a dozen Bowery Village lots. Also irregularly, from East Third Street to Sixth or Seventh Street, crossing from First and Second Avenues to the Bowery, was owned by either Mangle Minthorne or Andrew Morris. From East Seventh Street through to 21st Street, and Third Avenue to the East River was exclusively owned by Peter or Nicholas Stuyvesant.

East Village, NoHo and Gold-Coast.


Peter Stuyvesant, “peg-leg Pete” the Colonial Governor-General, owned Stanton Street (which is below Houston Street; and therefore, the Lower East Side) to East 30th

Street (in southeast Midtown), stretching from the East River (Avenue D) to the Bowery. (Roughly a two square mile tract.)

In addition, the Stuyvesant clan founders include his sister Anna Stuyvesant Bayard, Varleth (see below); his wife, Judith Bayard; and sons Peter Gerard and Helen (Rutherfurd) Stuyvesant grantor of Stuyvesant Square Park); Nicholas and Maria Beekman Stuyvesant, (grantor of Thompkins Square Park), and their sons and Daughters, who married a plethora of illustrious New York names as to form the 300-year Manhattan patroon pantheon.