3. English Counties in the Lower East Side

Essex Street F,M,J, subway station entrance

Down in the Lower East Side, there are three north-south streets that share their names with English counties: Essex Street, Norfolk Street, and Suffolk Street. The Street Book: An Encyclopedia of Manhattan’s Street Names and their Origins, written by Henry Moscow in 1990, confirms this connection to New York’s colonial past.

An old map of Delancy's Square
Section of the “Plan of the City of New York” by Bernard Ratzer. Essex, Norfolk, and Sussex Streets are to the east of Orchard Street and Delancy’s Square. 

We can see the original plan for these streets on the Ratzer Map commissioned by King George in 1767, and recently restored by the Brooklyn Historical Society after it was found in their archives.

The Ratzer Map shows the creation of one of New York’s first grids in the Lower East Side to the south of James De Lancey’s estate. The former colonial governor of New York lends his name to the street that would later cross his property as seen on this 1817 map of lower Manhattan available in the New York Public Library.