8. Park Row

During the days of the Revolutionary War, Park Row was known as Chatham Street, in honor of William Pitt, the Earl of Chatham. On the corner of William Street and Wall, there used to stand a marble statue of the Earl. It had been erected in 1770 to honor Pitt’s defense of the colonies and his efforts to get the Stamp Act repealed. In 1776, however, the British soldiers pulled down Pitt’s likeness, cut off its head, and dragged the rest of the statue through the mud.

Despite the history of the street name and the patriotic sentiment that it inspired, the city chose to rename the street Park Row in 1886. The reason for this change, as cited in The City Record, is that Chatham Street had come to have a bad reputation, which deterred customers from visiting the shops along this stretch. The city reasoned that with a new name, the street could get a fresh start. The new name was chosen because the street borders City Hall Park. Some people, like author and Historian Charles Hemstreet, resented this change, which they saw as validating the destruction of Pitt’s statue by the British a century prior.