9. NoHo was home to an English-inspired pleasure garden

In 1748, the Swiss physician Jacob Sperry founded New York’s first botanical garden near the present-day intersection of Lafayette Street and Astor Place. A mile from the edge of the city at the time, Sperry’s gardens featured flowers and hothouse plants and became a destination for weekend travelers strolling up the former Broad Way from Wall Street and the City’s Common, located at present-day Chambers Street. In 1804, Sperry sold the property to John Jacob Astor, who leased it to a French entrepreneur named Joseph Delacroix.

Delacroix built a country resort named Vauxhall Gardens on the site. Named after a famous garden in England, the spot became a fashionable destination where New Yorkers could eat, drink, socialize, watch plays, listen to live music and be entertained by fireworks in the evening. It was also a place where you could see hot air balloon ascensions, a popular attraction of the time. By 1825, when Delacroix’s lease was up, the property values had skyrocketed on nearby Bond, Bleecker, and Great Jones Streets. Astor realized the value of the real estate the garden occupied. He cut a broad street across the garden to create Lafayette Place, which was named by the Marquis de Lafayette himself on his last visit to New York in July of 1825. This street cut the garden in half and became a popular residential thoroughfare after the construction of LaGrange Terrace.