by Kevin Walsh

There are, or were, only two streets called “Row” in New York and wouldn’t you know it, they met each other. Tryon Row was a one block street between Centre Street and Park Row just south of the Municipal Building. Tryon Row’s space is now occupied by a modest sitting space with tables and chairs. In the 1800s, the intersection marked NYC’s first public school.

Tryon Row was named for William Tryon, a Loyalist who fought with the Continental Army and served as governor of the provinces of North Carolina and New York from 1765-1780.

During the spring and summer of 1776, Tryon and New York City’s mayor, David Mathews, were conspirators in a miserably bungled plot to kidnap General George Washington and to assassinate his chief officers. One of Washington’s bodyguards, Thomas Hickey, was involved in the plot. Hickey, while in prison for passing counterfeit money, bragged to his cellmate Isaac Ketcham about the kidnapping plot. Ketcham revealed it to authorities in an effort to gain his own freedom. Hickey was court-martialled, and was hanged for mutiny on 28 June 1776…

… Tryon had long advocated engaging in attacks on civilian targets, but Clinton turned down Tryon’s proposals. In July 1779, Tryon commanded a series of raids on the Connecticut coast, attacking New HavenFairfield, and Norwalk, burning and plundering most of Fairfield and Norwalk. Tryon’s raids were intended to draw American forces away from the defence of the Hudson valley. In spite of pressure from Governor Jonathan Trumbull, George Washington did not move his troops. Americans condemned him for making war on “women and children”, and the British commander Clinton was also indignant about Tryon disobeying his orders. Tryon found approval of his conduct from Lord Germain, but Clinton refused to give Tryon any further significant commands. wikipedia

Nonetheless, Tryon was honored by Tryon Row, Fort Tryon Park in Inwood, and Tryon Avenue in the Bronx.

This style blue and white “humpback” signs showing the cross street were used in Manhattan and the Bronx between 1913 and about 1964, when they were replaced by vinyl and metal signs.



ron salyk November 8, 2011 - 4:34 pm

Back around 1970, someone bought literally thousands of the blue/white “humpback” signs from the city as scrap, and advertised them in the Voice. You went to a warehouse and literally walked on top of 4 feet of signs, and looked for those of interest to you. I picked up about ten-in retrospect I should have bought a few hundred. I believe he was charging either 3 or 5 dollars a sign.


Jane November 8, 2011 - 6:24 pm

In the 50’s we used to visit my grandmother on 84th Street in Glendale close to the intersection of Myrtle Avenue. I could never understand what “Curb Your Dog” meant and I’ve never seen a sign like it again. Along comes the new show “Long Island Medium” and at the beginning of the show there are clips of NY including a sign that says “Curb Your Dog!” We used to see it every time my grandmother walked us over to Mrs. Tobias’s candy store on Myrtle Avenue which is probably no longer there. We grew up in rural Connecticut so going to the city to see Gramps and Nana was like visiting another country!!! Miss those days.

Rob Kelley November 8, 2011 - 7:14 pm

Tryon got his name on one of the two main cross-streets in Charlotte,NC . Surprising considering what a scoundrel he was:

FerryBoi November 9, 2011 - 2:31 pm

Also surprising that the Fort Tryon area uptown, with its corresponding park, never changed it’s name, especially after the Revolution. You don’t see any “Benedict Arnold Park” or “Fort Howe” neighborhoods in NYC, so why dord this Brit get to be memorialized in our fair town?

COMET July 17, 2015 - 12:33 am

A little late to this dance but–there IS a Monument–of sorts!!!–to Benedict Arnold–well; to his LEG at least. It is in the Saratoga National Battlefield Park on a bluff where he was injured–you have to climb to visit it. When the Park was being laid out some one decided that at the time of the Battle Of Saratoga Ol’ Ben WAS a HERO—but later on–not so much. So they made a sculpture JUST OF THE LEG.

How he survived the loss of the leg in such primitive medical times–on this out of the way Battlefield no less–and went on for a fairly long life–I dunno. I lost a leg and even today can’t get one to fit right—and I had the best of surgeons and care and modern prosthetics! But–it does give me pause—there are medical issues with an amputation or uhealed break that CAN affect your brain–one is caused by marrow leaking from the bone end or injury–this can make you NUTS–ask me how I know. Maybe this ‘splains some of his later problems and the betrayal.

Anonymous December 31, 2018 - 9:27 pm

Perhaps due to his being the Royal Governor of NC prior to be transferred to NY. He also petitioned for, and received, the funding for the initial build of Queen’s College – now Queen’s University located in Charlotte, NC as well as the final funding for King’s College in NY which is now Columbia University. A veteran of the 7 Yrs. War and eventually a General in the Amer. Rev., Tryon was young, wealthy, well-educated, well-connected and on the right track to being a Lord, but who knew a Revolution would ruin his chances? King’s do not reward losing generals with titles.

pre war walt November 9, 2011 - 1:21 pm

United House Wrecking in Ct. had a huge amount of the humpback signs in the early 1970s for sale, they were $5.00 each.
I bought two and still have one, it now hangs in my garage next to my ’36 Packard. This was a neat place to find architectural salvage when it really was salvaged. It still exists but now has a lot of repro stuff and is kinda boring.

chris November 10, 2011 - 5:07 pm

Back in the mid 60s the dept. of public works had a stockpile of them blu-white porcelain signs in their yard under the B.B. bridge,B’klyn side.I saw 42nd & bdwy,herald sq. a ton of numbered signs…..all headed to be dumped at sea.

KevinJWalsh November 11, 2011 - 8:26 am

That’s why some of them ebay today for $1000.

Dan Schwartz November 11, 2011 - 9:12 am

In Manhattan, before the vinyl and metal signs, some of the blue humpbacks were replaced with similar, but slightly larger, yellow ones. Or did those have the “humps” on the bottom?

KevinJWalsh November 11, 2011 - 9:54 am

Some of the busier avenues had yellow rectangle signs with smaller rectangles on top with the cross street. I have a photo somewhere but it’s one of the pages that didn’t get moved over yet.

John Dereszewski November 12, 2011 - 12:22 pm

Great piece, Kevin. I must have walked passed the open area just south of the Muicipal Building countless times without realizing that it had once hosted a street.I agree that it is odd that the name of such a dreadful Tory as Tryon was not eradicated from the map of NYC in the immediate aftermath of the Revolution. Unlike other Tories, Tryon was really a bad guy. Yet we still visit cloisters in Ft. Tryon Park. What makes this especially odd is that, prior to its capture, this fortification was known as Ft. Washington! You would think that the name would have reverted to that of the beloved leader aften the colonials returned, but this never occurred. Thus, while a Ft. Washington Ave. does exist, the park remaind nemed after the old Tory.

rita mcdonnell November 15, 2011 - 1:55 pm

i am looking for a photo of my great grandfather’s bar called “the doctor’s i think it is at 95 park row. his name was patrick Bohan,

somebody April 5, 2012 - 10:43 am

I go to school near Tryon Row, so I see that space very often where that street used to be.

I Ride The Harlem Line…» Blog Archive » The New York & Harlem Railroad in the 1860′s – Tryon Row July 19, 2012 - 10:54 am

[…] the New York & Harlem’s earliest stations in Manhattan was at Tryon Row, a street that no longer exists. At the time the “trains” were being pulled by horses, and there were short cars […]


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