by Kevin Walsh

Continued from Part 2

Time for another entry in Puzzlements, Forgotten New York’s examination of noncontextual street names, especially named streets smack in the middle of areas featuring numbered or lettered streets, or even lettered or numbered streets smack in the middle of a group of named streets, such as Port Richmond’s Avenue B (seen on this page) or B Street in Pelham Bay, Bronx. 

To save time preparing this piece, I’ll use images captured from Google Street View.


West 4th Street at West 13th Street

West 4th Street

For much of its route 4th Street in Greenwich Village behaves as though it were part of the overall street grid mapped out by John Randel in the early 19th Century, especially east of the Bowery, where it joins its parallel brothers East 3rd and East 5th Streets. However, the west Greenwich Village street patter is a bit wonky, with streets eventually settling on more of a SW-NE orientation rather than a bit off from east-west, like the rest of Manhattan Island. And, south of Washington Square, there are just two numbered streets west of Broadway, West 3rd and West 4th. The grid begins in earnest with 8th Street, where 5th Avenue becomes the east-west divider.

After ceding its name temporarily to Washington Square South, West 4th pushes west to 6th Avenue/Avenue of the Americas. But then something strange happens. It turns northwest, and keeps going and going. Because West 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th turn southwest and keep going themselves amid a thicket of named Greenwich Village streets, West 4th actually intersects them and seems to disprove the notion that parallel lines don’t meet. 

This situation arose because West 4th, 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th all once carried names (as shown on this page) and at one time, their intersections posed no headscratching from out of towners. 

In the very early 1800s, West 4th Street was originally named for the nearby Orphan Asylum Society which stood on Asylum Street between Bank Street and Troy Street (now West 12th St.)

The asylum was demolished in 1833, and soon after, the street was renamed as West 4th Street. Only later were the other streets, Amos, Hammond, and Troy, respectively, renamed West 10, 11 and 12 Sts.


West 9th Street, Red Hook

Brooklyn has a few duplicate streets, such as Atlantic Avenue (Cobble Hill, Fort Greene, etc., and Sea Gate) and West Street (Gravesend, Greenpoint). It also has two West 9th Streets. One of them can be found in Gravesend, and runs in one piece from Bay Parkway south to 86th Street and Avenue V. (I always thought it strange that 86th Street pushes so far southeast into Gravesend, but this 1873 map shows that it was always mapped to do so.)

The other West 9th Street is on the outskirts of Red Hook at the south end of Carroll Gardens and is a literal western extension of 9th Street, running from Smith Street west to Columbia Street. Maps made before about 1900 show it as Church Street. 

The first 9th Street bridge crossing the Gowanus Canal was completed in 1905; in 1999, the bridge reopened after a complete renovation. In the 1930s, a massive railroad trestle carrying the IND subway was built over it. My educated guess why Church Street became West 9th is that the city wished to continue 9th Street further west after the bridge opened in 1905, but didn’t want to renumber all the houses on the street all the way to Prospect Park, which they’d have to do. So, West 9th Street it was.


18th Avenue and East 4th Street, Kensington

18th Avenue, Kensington

Most of Brooklyn’s numbered avenues in Bensonhurst and Borough Park (originally parts of the Town of New Utrecht) come to a screeching halt at Dahill Road and are prohibited from attaining the Promised Lands of Kensington and Parkville (originally parts of the Town of Flatbush). In this subtle way, the old lines of these formerly politically divided rival towns are preserved. Each has its own street naming system, New Utrecht’s a mix of numbered Avenues and Streets, while Flatbush is a bit more complex, with east-west lettered avenues and north-south numbered streets. However, there are two sets of numbered streets in Flatbush, a set of West and East streets, with McDonald Avenue or West Street serving as the dividing line. 

18th Avenue serves as the Town of New Utrecht’s Vasco Núñez de Balboa, ranging further east than its brother numbered avenues, getting as far as Coney Island Avenue before changing its name to Ditmas Avenue.


This 1890 map shows 18th Avenue in Parkville, an early 19th Century small town absorbed by Flatbush, as Franklin Avenue. Unfortunately when the City of Brooklyn annexed territories such as the town of Flatbush, it wound up with a number of duplicate names, and, unlike Boston, NYC has always seemed to dislike such duplicates in one borough, which Brooklyn became after it joined Greater New York. What to do? 

Ditmas Avenue was extended west but at a different angle. Thus, Franklin Avenue became a northeast extension of 18th Avenue, which ever since has pushed further into Flatbush than any other of Brooklyn’s numbered avenues. 


Oceania Street at Horace Harding Expressway (LIE)

Oceania Street, Bayside

There are a number of head-scratchers in Bayside, where some named Streets appear in thickets of numbered Streets. One is Oceania Street which runs from Northern Boulevard south to beyond the LIE, where it merges with 210th Street. It slots in between 208th and 210th, and so, to be Captain Obvious, it takes the place of 209th. Why Oceania? The street is nowhere near any bodies of water at all. Perhaps one of the companies developing the area in the early 20th Century was called Oceania; today, the name is a political term for the southwest Pacific including Australia and the islands comprising Indonesia and Polynesia.


Interestingly Oceania Street was never numbered. This 1922 Hagstrom map shows mapped streets that had not yet been built, and Oceania Street is called Lonesdale Avenue.

A puzzlement, indeed.


Corporal Kennedy Street at 41st Avenue

Corporal Kennedy Street, Bayside

A pair of Bayside streets are named for military men, both corporals. Corporal Kennedy, a busy, 2 lane route, begins at Northern Boulevard a little east of Oceania Street and runs north into Bay Terrace, where it becomes 18th Avenue. It slots in between 209th and 210th, and so, has never had a name.


Turning to the 1922 Hagstrom again, it was mapped back then as Gardiner Street. Tis a puzzlement to me that the number was completely skipped here and a named street inserted between two consecutive numbers. The same thing happens with Bell Boulevard, between 213th and 214th, but to me that’s more understandable.

Cpl. Kennedy Street was named long before the current practice of applying street sobriquets by listing the entire name on a separate sign, and I’ve always been curious about these mysterious military men. The Parks Department has supplied information on Corporal William Kennedy because a playground at Corporal Kennedy Street and 33rd Avenue was also named for him:

Corporal William F. Kennedy (1893-1918) [was] an army mechanic killed in action during World War I (1914-1918). Kennedy was born and raised in Bayside, where his father was a police officer. After the war broke out, he joined the army, and began training at Fort Upton, the present site of the Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island. He was then stationed in France, where he served as a mechanic with the 107th Infantry Regiment, 27th Infantry Division. On September 30, 1918, Corporal Kennedy was killed while out on maneuvers. He is buried in the Somme American Cemetery in Bony, France.

World War I took the lives of over 8.5 million people, including 57,476 Americans – 13,956 New York State residents and 7,455 inhabitants of New York City. Monuments to those who lost their lives are located throughout the city, and several roadways and parks are named in their honor. Corporal Kennedy Street is a stretch of roadway from Little Neck Avenue to Northern Boulevard on which Kennedy once lived. The roadway, formerly Gardiner Street, was renamed by a local law on April 21, 1925.


Corporal Stone Street at 36th Avenue

Corporal Stone Street

This shorter street is a somewhat more straightforward renaming, as it simply takes the place of 214th Street between 35th and 40th Avenues.

Forgotten Fan Hugh Walcott:

Charles B. Stone was killed on the front lines in France on October 30, 1918.  He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.  He was my father’s uncle. His mother, Augusta Wheeler Stone, and sister, Marion Stone, lived in Bayside.  Augusta Stone was a long-time member of the Altar Guild at All Saints Episcopal Church in Bayside.  My father, Charles Edmund Wolcott, was the son of Marion, Charles B. Stone’s sister, and Edmund Wolcott.
I think Charles B. Stone was employed as a courier on Wall Street before enlisting in the Army and was a Junior Member of the Bayside Yacht Club.  He was only about 20 years old when killed.

Why this distinguished pair do not have their full names on their street signs is something that should be taken up with the Department of Transportation, dontcha think?

Check out the ForgottenBook, take a look at the gift shop, and as always, “comment…as you see fit.”



Peter November 7, 2017 - 8:06 pm

Asylum Avenue in Hartford, a major thoroughfare, took its name from an asylum for the deaf and dumb located near the west end of the street, in what is now West Hartford. Although the institution changed its name to the American School for the Deaf well over a century ago the street’s strange-sounding moniker remains.

El Queso November 10, 2017 - 7:14 am

Hawthorne Boulevard in Portland, Oregon was also formerly called “Asylum Street” because it ran from the eastside waterfront to the Oregon Hospital for the Insane (which closed in 1883.) The street was renamed in 1888 for Dr. J. C. Hawthorne, who ran the asylum.

Alan Gregg Cohen November 8, 2017 - 4:34 am

View interesting and well researched article Kevin. I found the naming of 18th Avenue east of Mc Donald Avenue, in the Parkville section of Brooklyn odd indeed. According to the off kilter grid it follows it would have made most sense to have carried the Ditmas Avenue moniker in the portion of 18th Avenue east of Mc Donald Avenue.

Alan Gregg Cohen November 8, 2017 - 4:38 am

Please ignore my typo “View”, lol. My Google keyboard has a mind of its own sometimes.

Mitch45 November 9, 2017 - 11:45 am

Kew Gardens Hills in Queens has a few streets with odd names. Park Drive East, the westernmost road in the neighborhood has always been an anomaly. While it does run along the east side of a portion of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, there is no corresponding Park Drive West on the other side. The neighborhood’s Queens numbering system is out of whack too. There are numerous streets with the same numbers but different surnames – 72nd Avenue, 72nd Road and 72nd Crescent are all next to each other. My friend lived at the corner of 72nd and 72nd when he was a kid. There’s 78th Road, 78th Avenue and 78th Crescent. 138th Street and 138th Place. And for some reason, there is no 74th anywhere in the area – the street after 73rd Avenue is 75th Avenue. But there is a 74th Avenue in Forest Hills. Need I go on?

Allan Rosen November 9, 2017 - 1:14 pm

There are also two Ford Streets in Brooklyn, one in Sheepshead Bay and a two block street in Crown Heights.

There has never been a book about all the streets that have been renamed. I once saw an old map of East New York with all different named streets. Also, there are several old grid systems in Brooklyn that have been completely demolished. I remember walking on Rochester Avenue which used to extend three blocks south of East NY Avenue. There were also three other parallel north south avenues to the east. I only remember Tapscott Avenue.

In Borough Park, in an old map at the Brooklyn Historical Society from the 1800s, there was a different grid system with a half a dozen named streets after states and cities that I wrote down somewhere. I counted several hundred homes on small plots. The only streets I remember are Philadelphia and Ohio. I checked on a Google maps to see if there are any remnants and found only one property line at a weird angle. It’s somewhere in the 50s or 60s between 9th and 15th Avenues in an industrial area. I can’t locate it now.

I also always wondered why 54 Street is offset between 15 and 16 Avenue.

Kevin Walsh November 10, 2017 - 8:15 am

I recall seeing Tapscott Ave on 1960s maps.

Allan Rosen November 12, 2017 - 3:00 pm

It was on a few maps. There were one or two more east of Tapscott. I remember about 50 attached houses there but they were only on the west side of the street. Guess the east side was torn down when they built E 94 Street. E 93 Street between Rutland and East New York was not built until the 1970s. Funny it is not on my Rand McNally map from 1911. But Remsen, E 91 through E 96 are there although they didn’t exist.

Allan Rosen November 9, 2017 - 1:29 pm

The property line that formed the southern end of the grid appears to be on 11th Avenue just south of 62 Street. I wouldn’t swear to it, but it’s the only irregularity I can see.

Alan Gregg Cohen November 10, 2017 - 1:02 pm

Another of many anomalies in the Queens numbering scheme, is the absence of a 30th Avenue and 31st Avenue in the Linden Hill area of North Flushing. For a long time both existed on the surveyors grid and early Hagstrom Maps of Queens; 30th Avenue planned as an offset western extension of Bayside Avenue, west of Union Street, which never came to be. When the Mitchell Gardens development was carved out of the former estate of the Mitchell family lands that laid to the west of Union Street extending to the then named Whitestone Parkway on the west, 31st Road assumed the position of what naturally should have been 30th Avenue. The reality today is that is from the area from the Whitestone Expressway on the west all the way to Francis Lewis Boulevard on the east, that the numbering sequence of streets north of Bayside Avenue and Its westerly offset cohort of 31st Road, that you will find 28th Avenue, 28th Road, 29th Avenue, and 29th Road, followed by 31st Road west of Union Street, where Bayside Avenue should be. To the east of Union Street, Bayside Avenue acts as a de facto division between all the “20’s” and “30’s” Avenues, Roads and Drives. As a result, 32nd Avenue is the first numbered east/west avenue to the south of Bayside Avenue, where at 162nd Street, Bayside Avenue ends with it’s northeastern extension assuming the Bayside Lane moniker, while crossing the grid on a final northeasterly run to it’s terminus at Francis Lewis Boulevard near 25th Drive. Bayside Avenue’s
southerly route eastward becomes 29th Avenue. Historically, Bayside Lane was the original alignment of Bayside Avenue, which can be seen on the 1909 G.W. Bromley Atlas of Queens County.

Kevin Walsh November 11, 2017 - 2:16 pm

Bayside Avenue, which takes the place of a normally numbered street and doesn’t really go to Bayside, is indeed another “puzzlement.”

Allan Rosen November 12, 2017 - 3:01 pm

What about Bayside Cemetery in Ozone Park?

Tal Barzilai November 10, 2017 - 5:45 pm

Now I know why West 4th Street bends into a diagonal after 6th Avenue all the way to 14th Street, which is very interesting even though none of the other numbered streets in Manhattan do this.

FNY Fan Skipper November 24, 2017 - 12:03 pm

Five other numbered Manhattan streets bend diagonally. They are West 10th thru 12th and West 125th and 126th. The first group bends SW but none of the streets cross any other numbered street, they are mixed in with named parallel streets in the original grid. The second group starts heading northwest just west of Morningside Avenue, with 125th crossing West 129th and 126th terminating about a half a block east of where 125th crosses it.

FNY Fan Skipper November 24, 2017 - 1:24 pm

One correction to my above post: Obviously, 10th thru 12th cross West 4th. I meant any other street than that one.

Allan Rosen November 12, 2017 - 3:04 pm

Kevin, did you ever investigate the out of order house numbers on 86 Street near McDonald?

And did you know the Brighton numbered streets 11 through 15 once had names? I have them written down somewhere. The only one I remember was Brighton 11 was Nathan Street.


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