15. Beaver Street

Beaver Street, in Manhattan’s Financial District, has always been associated with trade. The name, which dates to the 17th century, pays homage to the fur trade and its important role in creating the New York City of today. The French began trading beaver pelts with Native American fur trappers even before Henry Hudson’s arrival in 1609. The lucrative fur trade drew colonists to the area, and the Dutch established a trading post in New Amsterdam.

By 1830, John Jacob Astor, a businessman from Germany, dominated the American fur trade. The wealthiest man in the country at the time of his death, Astor invested his fortune in real estate and became the “landlord of New York.” So important was the fur trade in the history of New York, that two beavers are depicted on the official seal of New York City.

Wild CIty: The NYC History of Beavers

Next, check out History of Streets: Functionally Named NYC Streets and 5 Alleys and Small Streets in Chinatown Tell the Neighborhood’s Vibrant History.