Stone Street – a homage to the Dutch colonial past

A short and slightly bent Stone street looks like it belongs in colonial New Amsterdam. And, in a way, it does.

One of the city’s oldest and the first paved street in colonial New Amsterdam, Stone Street appeared shortly after the colony’s establishment in 1624. The Dutch called a part of it Brewers’ Street after the breweries along the street, while another part was known as Hoogh Straet (literally “High Street”). In the 1650s, the residents of Brewers’ Street complained to the colonial government that the muddy, dusty street was “more and more unfit for public use.” After many pleas from citizens, the road was paved with round cobblestones. When the British took over, High Street was renamed Duke Street after the Duke of York, the younger brother of English King Charles II, who later became King James II. Incidentally, New York City was also named after him since the Duke owned the colony of New York. In 1794, a few years After the American Revolution, the street shed its colonial past and was renamed Stone Street. Quite a few names for Such a small street!

The Great Fire of 1835 devastated the neighborhood, destroying almost 700 buildings. Stone Street was not spared; sadly, all its buildings dating to colonial times perished and were replaced with modest commercial structures. 

Since the 19th century, Stone Street was owned by Eno’s family. Amos F. Eno was not just a large holder of New York real estate but also a collector of old New York prints and engravings, including seventeenth-century Dutch views. He is responsible for the twentieth-century transformation of the Stone Street neighborhood from an underused commercial district to a picturesque Dutch-looking enclave. He hired C.P.H. Gilbert, a prominent architect of the era, to recreate the feel of old Stone Street. Dutch Colonial Revival houses by C.P.H. Gilbert with stepped gable roofs are an excellent and rare example of quoting historical context.  

In the city that lost everything from the colonial era, this charming pedestrian street is a picturesque 20th-century homage to the early history of New York as New Amsterdam.

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