11. Beach Street

The names of Pearl, Water, Front, and South Streets all reflect the fact that these streets either are or were along Manhattan’s expansive waterfront. It is, therefore, logical to assume that Beach Street, which used to extend all the way to the Hudson River, is similarly named. This assumption, however, would be false. The street was named for Paul Bache, the son-in-law of Anthony Lispenard (Beach Street was laid out along the Lispenard farm). Over time, “Bache” morphed into “Beach.”

What makes this street name a particularly cruel trick, however, is the knowledge that there was, in fact, a beach on Beach Street. As late as 1807, when St. John’s Church was built on Varick Street, the entire region from there until the river was a sandy stretch of beach.