Various alarms and surveillance devices cover a pair of chiseled street signs on a very old brick building at Wythe Avenue and North 8th Street in the Willie.
How do I know the building is very old? Wythe Avenue hasn’t been known as Second Street since the late 1890s. When the city of Williamsburg was laid out in the early 19th Century, east-west streets were actually called North and South numbered streets, North streets (1 to 15) north of Division Avenue, and South streets (1 to 11) south of Division Avenue.
Streets running north and south were numbered, too, heading east from the East River from 1 through 12. Thus, numbered streets were intersecting with numbered streets (instead of numbered avenues intersecting with numbered streets, as in Manhattan and western Brooklyn).
At length, after Williamsburg had been annexed by the city of Brooklyn, it ws decidd to rename the north-south numbered streets and give them names to avoid confusion; thus 1st Street became a northern extension of Kent Avenue, 2nd became Wythe, 3rd became Berry, and on and on.
Here and there, though, there are traces of Williamsburg’s old numbered streets in chiseled signs on buildings, like this one.
Virginian George Wythe was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and a tutor of Thomas Jefferson. Many Signers are represented in Williamsburg and Bedford-Stuyvesant street names.