Peter Stuyvesant’s bouwerie must have been something—and contemporary New Yorkers might have some idea of what it looked like thanks to three charming houses on East 18th Street.
Stuyvesant was the pivotal and final director-general of New Amsterdam. After the British took over in 1664, he moved out of the city and resided on his 120-acre bouwerie, or farm—roughly bounded by today’s 5th to 15th Street east of Fourth Avenue to the East River.
Stuyvesant died in 1672 and was interred at St. Mark’s Church at Second Avenue and 10th Street, which was on his bouwerie.
As the East Side went from countryside to part of the city In the 18th and 19th centuries his heirs sold off land that once featured meadows and trees to developers eager to build homes for a growing New York.
One of those heirs was Cornelia Stuyvesant Ten Broeck, who in 1852 leased land to several men who worked in the construction trades on today’s East 18th Street.
Ten Broeck stipulated in her lease that these men put up “good and substantial dwelling houses…being three or more stories in height and constructed either of brick or stone,” according to a 1973 Neighborhood Preservation Center report.
The results of that lease are still part of the city today: the lovely brick houses with vast, lush front yards and iron fences and entryways at 326, 328, and 330 East 18th Street, between Third Avenue and Irving Place.
These three sister houses, built in the popular Italianate style of the mid-19th century, “recall a period when rows of one-family dwellings were beginning to line the city’s ‘uptown’ side streets from the Hudson River to Avenue A,” the NPC report says.
The houses themselves are somewhat modest. But the decorative ironwork on the porches and entryways give them a New Orleans kind of feel.
And the deep front yards are an unusual feature in Manhattan, though as the above black and white photos (from the 1930s to the 1970s) show, the yards didn’t always feature thick greenery.
The trees and bushes look like they sprang up on their own, ghostly reminders of the trees and bushes of Stuyvesant’s bouwerie three centuries earlier.
They lend a bucolic feel to this stretch of the cityscape . . . almost like what Stuyvesant’s bouwerie might have looked like.
[Third photo: NYPL, 1938; Fourth photo: MCNY/Edmund V. Gillon 2013.3.2.2325; Fifth photo: MCNY/Edmund V. Gillon 2013.3.2.2326
Source: FS – NYC Real Estate
Lovely houses and lush front yards on 18th Street