THOUGH NYC divested itself of most of its colonial-era “royal” names after defeating the British in the Revolutionary War, there are a few that doggedly hang on, sich as Prince Street in Soho, Kings Highway in Brooklyn, and Fort Tryon Park in upper Manhattan, which was named for British fort commemorating Sir William Tryon (1729-1788) , the last British governor of the colonies before the scurvy rebels kicked them out. The city took title to the property, which was in part owned by the former Cornelius Billings estate, in 1917, and the large (67 acres) park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. (son of the Central and Prospect Park developer) in 1935. There’s a good deal of highlights for even the most avowed non-naturalist such as your webmaster to enjoy here.
Fort Tryon Park is one of the two great parks of upper Manhattan island, the other being Inwood Hill Park (which still has caves where Native Americans resided, Manhattan’s last forest, and the spot where, according to many accounts, Peter Minuet “purchased” the island from the Lenape (since the Lenape did not follow the concept of personal property to be bought and sold, they were unaware they were even selling the land).
I reached Fort Tryon Park via Broadway and about Ellwood Street, and if you have ever climbed the steps and hills from Broadway up to the park promontory, you will agree with me that if you could do those steps every day, you’d quickly be back in fighting form. Unfortunately I don’t have the opportunity every day, and I both work and live on first floors.
My latest visit to Fort Tryon Park came on October 2021 and I have yet to use that batch of photos. As a sampler, here’s one of the great masonry arches that set the park apart from other parks (though Central Park boasts a few). In the offing I’ll have more from this park in Forgotten New York.
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Prince Street, which abuts the original St. Patrick’s Cathedral, was named after Samuel Prince, a wealthy landowner but some of us Catholics believed that it was given that name in recognition of the fact that the cathedral was the seat of a prince of the church, a cardinal. I wish that story were true but it’s a great street to walk on.
I think it was mainly Manhattan that purged more Britishnames as there are plenty of British names peppered throughout the outer boroughs. Even the name of New York City was named for British royalty’s Duke of York, but some names would be difficult to rename, however if they were really adamant about purging all British royal names they could have renamed New York City with the name of Manhattan. The names of Kings and Queens Counties we’re also named for British royalty, but during the Revolutionary War these counties were not a part of New York City. Staten Island’s Dongan Hills neighborhood was named for British appointed colonial governor Thomas Dongan, who was governor of New York Province in the late 1600s. However I am not sure of when this neighborhood was named. I am sure that there are more names but these are the ones that came to mind.
Dongan Hills is a relatively modern name, replacing Garretson’s Station on the Staten Island RR sometime around 1900, give or take a decade. Not sure why the name change. Dongan Street in West Brighton borders the colonial manor of the governor, who took a liking to Staten Island and made it his country seat.
As I am wont to do with some frequency, upon reading this article I took to “Gergle” Maps and Street View to check things out as if on foot.
Immediately centered in the frame on the first angle I got, after having dragged the little man into approximately the right spot, there stood what looked to be a wonderful, old, un- or under-used building with the letters “PACKARD” across the top. That shot was from August of 2019. When I scrolled a little bit further away, the image date was much more recent, and the building was GONE!
Luckily — but not at all surprisingly — Kevin had not failed to have already covered this fine structure:
Keep up the amazing work as always.