This is likely the only street in New York City named for a Swedish botanist (Carl von Linné). Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778) developed the modern taxonomic naming system used by scientists for living species (i.e. Homo sapiens, “wise man” for our human species). The C-shaped alley in Flushing, off Prince Street north of 35th Avenue, also takes its name from the Linnaean Gardens, the nation’s first commercial plant nursery run by Robert Prince and his son William beginning in 1735. Though it had gone out of business by the 1860s, other nurseries including James Bloodgood’s and Robert Parsons thrived until the 20th Century. Adams, Washington and Jefferson all visited the Prince plant nursery, with Jefferson being the most enthusiastic customer.
There aren’t many remnants of these plant businesses left in Flushing except for the street naming system, which runs from Ash to Rose, and a stand of trees in Kissena Park opposite Parsons Boulevard. This little alley reminds us that Prince Street, named for the businessman, was originally named Linnaeus Street, for the scientist.