Street construction is a constant part of New York life. The jackhammers, the dust, and the diverted traffic all conspire to fray one’s nerves and disrupt one’s day. This view looking north on Lafayette Street from Houston Street shows one of the most disruptive times in New York City history – the construction of the city’s subway system in the early twentieth century.
This stretch of Lafayette Street is included in the NoHo Historic District and NoHo Historic District Extension. Lafayette Street itself is a relatively new street – created by merging several existing roads in the early twentieth century. These included Lafayette Place – which was created by John Jacob Astor and ran three blocks south from Astor Place before it dead ended. It became a fashionable residential street and included the LaGrange Terrace, a dramatic a series of colonnaded Greek revival townhouses, some of which survive today as Colonnade Row (and home to the Blue Man Group).
When construction for the new IRT subway line began, the city cut through the dead-end street and connected it with Elm Street and Marion Street to the south, creating today’s Lafayette Street.
Looking closely at the 1901 photo, you can see Colonnade Row to the left in the distance, and centered along Lafayette is the uniquely shaped former Germania Theatre, which was previously featured on Off the Grid.