When walking down Eldridge Street in the Lower East Side, it’s apparent that this street does not stand out as one of the glossier or trendier blocks in the neighborhood. As gritty as it may be, however, you’ll be walking through 300 years of New York City history, filled with interesting secrets and stories.
To learn more about the history of the neighborhood, make sure to join us for our tour of the Eldridge Street Synagogue, taking place on Thursday, October 26th. In the meantime, here are 10 highlights of Eldridge Street, which runs from Houston Street south to East Broadway.
1. Eldridge Was Not the Street’s Original Name
The Ratzer Map of New York City, 1767, NYPL Digital Collections
In the 1766, King George III commissioned cartographer, Bernard Ratzer, to create a detailed map of lower Manhattan, which would later be utilized by the British Army during the Battle of Brooklyn. When looking at the Lower East Side in the 1760’s, the area consisted of farmland owned by families such as the Delancey’s and Rutgers’. Eldridge Street was simply Third Street, a dirt road leading north to Delancey Square.
In 1812, the young nation would once again be at war and many New Yorkers enlisted. Among them was a young lieutenant by the name of Joseph C. Eldridge. According to eye witnesses, Lt. Eldridge died in Canada battling against British forces and Ottawa Natives. Witnesses described his death as happening under some very grisly circumstances. In 1817, the city renamed Third Street to Eldridge. Allen, Chrystie and Forsyth Street were also named for soldiers who fell during in the War of 1812.