5. Pearl Street was Named for NYC’s Abundance of Oysters

There are many theories as to how Pearl Street got its name. Dubbed Parelstraat by the Dutch, it is one of the roads laid out in the colonial street grid of New Amsterdam. When the Dutch occupied New York City, Pearl Street (the English anglicized the name in 1794) was the East River shoreline of Manhattan.

It is believed that the road got its name from the abundance of oysters in New York City’s waterways. It is likely that there was a large midden, a huge pile of oyster shells, on the street that inspired the name. Before the Europeans arrived and became smitten with oysters, the native Lenape people were already eating them and creating large piles of discarded shells. It is also believed that the Dutch crushed oyster shells and sprinkled them on the street as a form of paving.