There may be a 13th avenue in Brooklyn, but have you ever seen the minuscule 13th avenue in Manhattan? Despite its unassuming size, 13th Avenue holds prime Meatpacking District real estate with coveted Hudson River views. It lies just West of 11th Avenue (ironically, 13th Avenue doesn’t go anywhere near 12th Avenue), between Little West 12th Street and Gansevoort Street…but it wasn’t always so small.

Along the Hudson River across from the Whitney Museum is the last remnant of 13th Avenue. Photo by Michelle Young.

 In its hey-day, 13th avenue stretched from West 11th Street up to 25th Street. According to Ephemeral New York, it was built on landfill in the 1830s as an access road to shipping piers, ferry terminals, dumping grounds, and factories.

Those seen hanging around 13th avenue in the 1800s weren’t usually the most sightly: immigrants who picked through trash, lumbermen, and night watchmen called 13th avenue home.

Former 13th Avenue being converted into a new part of Hudson River Park

Once the world entered  the “luxury liner” era in the late 1800s, New York needed a wider corridor in the Hudson River so these large ships could dock. Development past 11th and 12th avenues meant large ships like the RMS Lusitania and the RMS Titanic wouldn’t use New York City as a harbor. In turn, plans for urban development along 13th avenue were ceded, and the area was transformed to extended dock space for a new era of boating.

google maps 13th avenue daily what west village untapped cities
Image from Google Maps

For more on what’s tiny in New York, check out Septuagesimo Uno, the smallest park in NYC, and 8 of the smallest historic districts in NYC.