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The Origins of Greenwich Village Historic District Street Names: Part VI

The streets, parks, and squares of the Greenwich Village Historic District (GVHD) are named for a unique collection of historical figures. Beginning with our 2019 celebration of the 50th anniversary of the GVHD, we have developed a guide to how these locations got their names. Click here to read other posts about the origins of GVHD Street names.

Today we expand from just street makes to examine the origins of the names of a park, a garden, as well as the ‘Main Street‘ of the West Village.

Abingdon Square

Abingdon Square Park is one of NYC’s oldest and smallest parks. NYC acquired the land on which the park sits on April 22, 1831. Once part of the vast Sir Peter Warren estate, Abingdon Square was named for Warren’s son-in-law Willoughby Bertie, the Fourth Earl of Abingdon. Bertie’s wife, Charlotte Warren, received the land as a wedding gift from her father. While most British place names were changed following the Revolutionary War, Abingdon Square retained its name due to the well-known patriotic sympathies of Charlotte and the Earl.

  • Interesting Fact: Around 1886, then-mayor Abram S. Hewitt initiated a citywide effort to improve public access to green spaces. Architect Calvert Vaux was hired to collaborate with the superintendent of parks, Samuel Parsons Jr., on a new design for Abingdon Square. Read more about Abingdon Square here. The WWI doughboy statue was added on October 31st, 1921.

Hudson Street

Hudson Street is named for the Hudson River, which was named for Henry Hudson. Henry Hudson was an English explorer who explored this region in 1609 on behalf of the Dutch East India Company looking for a Northwest Passage to Asia.

555 Hudson Street, where Jane Jacobs once lived with her family

Jefferson Market Garden

The Jefferson Market Garden was named for the Jefferson Market Library, formerly the Jefferson Market Courthouse, that abuts the garden.  From 1932 until June 13, 1971 the site of the garden was occupied by the New York Women’s House of Detention. By 1974, the building was gone and the city had an empty lot on its hands. Because the city had no money for a new park, volunteers took charge. The land was transferred to the Parks Department but entrusted to the care of the Jefferson Market Garden Committee, Inc., a grass-roots group of neighbors.

This photo was taken at Village Preservation’s annual Jefferson Market Garden Party, held every year in June.  Unfortunately, the event has been suspended for 2020.

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