Last week, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to landmark East 10th Street, from Avenue A to Avenue B. So we thought we would welcome our newest district with a quick overview. Learn more about GVSHP’s efforts to landmark this district.
The block as we know it today was planned in 1825, when the heirs of the Stuyvesant family sold and ceded land so that parcels could be laid into the new street grid. In 1833, developers purchased the land between Avenues A and B, a year before city government acquired the land that would become Tompkins Square Park. The designation report for the East 10th Street district writes of the first houses to be constructed on the street: “The first substantial brick building to be constructed within the historic district appears to have been no. 301, which was erected as a speculative investment for Thomas Crane c. 1843-44. A year or two later, around 1845, the homes at nos. 305 and 307 were constructed—perhaps as a pair—for William F. Pinchbeck and Joseph Trench. The row of four houses at nos. 293 to 299, at the corner of Avenue A, was also developed by Trench sometime around 1846. Another group of four houses on the block at 313 to 319 East 10th Street date from around 1847-48.” The designation report for the new district has much information, and features several photos comparing present day to the early 1930s. The designation report for this, and other districts, can be found on GVSHP’s website.
Like the rest of the Village, the neighborhood experienced waves of immigration in the late 1800’s. The area attracted a large number of German immigrants, whose influence on the built environment of the neighborhood can still be felt in the churches and institutions that still bear their German namesakes, such as the Ottendorfer Library. The German population was so high the area was called Kleindeutschland, or Little Germany. Irish immigrants also played a role in the development of the neighborhood, as can be seen just beyond the district in St. Brigid’s Church. This image, painted by Saul Kovner during the Great Depression as a Public Works of Art Project (PWAP) depicts all manner of people using the park, as the East 10th Street Landmark District, looking very similar to today, is just behind.