6. Maiden Lane

When the Dutch first settled New Amsterdam, a small stream used to run from Nassau Street to the East River, along what is now Maiden Lane. This brook was buried in the 1780s but the name of the present street is reminiscent of the small footpath beside the water. The Dutch called this path Maagde Paetje, or the Virgin’s Path.

The stream was considered one of the most beautiful places in the city and young couples loved to go for strolls along the bank of the brook. The origin of the path’s name, however, is more functional than it is romantic: the grassy banks beside the stream made for an exceptionally good place for doing laundry, so young women frequented the stream to wash and bleach their families’ clothes. It is for these women, and not the young lovers, that the street is named.