Broadway - Antique Images
The famous Broadway is a street in Manhattan, specially the part that houses several theaters. Broadway is a historic road in the City of New York that runs from State Street, in Manhattan, to Westchester County. It is the oldest south-north main thoroughfare in the City. Broadway is also a metonym for the theatrical activity in the City of New York. There are also other streets named Broadway the City: in Queens and in Brooklyn.
At the time of the Dutch rule, in the 17th century, Broadway was known as Heeren Strast ("Gentlemen's Street") and Bowling Green, where Broadway begins, was the most popular part of New Amsterdam. On the site of today's number one Broadway (occupied by Washington Building) stood a tavern kept by Pieter Kocks, an officer of the Dutch service. At the time, Heeren Strast extended to the walls of the old Dutch citadel at present-day Wall Street (see the Castello Plan, 1660). Beyond the city walls the road was known as "Heere Wegh".
After the English took over the City, they changed the name to Broad Way and Fort Amsterdam, at the foot of Broadway, was renamed Fort James. The wall was removed in 1699 due to the expansion of the City. By the 1720s, Broadway extended north a little beyond today's Vesey Street (see James Lyne' map). More: Lower Broadway ►
By 1728, there was a rope walk in the west side of the Common (now Broadway, City Hall Park). About the mid-18th century, a road was laid until the Anthony Rutger’s Farm, where Ranelagh Gardens was established in 1765. Before 1750, Broadway (with that name) did not extend to the north beyond present-day Vesey Street (see a map). After 1750, Trinity Church laid out streets through a portion of the Church Farm, located from the west side of (now) Broadway to the riverfront, until about Chambers Street. Then the Church leased lots on this area and houses were built.
In June 1760, a plan of road from about present Ann Street (then Spring Garden House) to Astor Place (then Widow Rutgers) was delivered by Francis Maerschalck to the Common Council. Trinity Church ceded the street to the City in 1761. It was an extension of Broadway of the time, but it was named later the Great George Street. The first part was constructed before 1767, until about present Duane Street, but many people called it "Broadway". The name Great George Street appeared, for example, in the Plan of the Ground Contiguous to the Poor House, surveyed in 1774, by Gerard Bancker and in the Plan of McComb and Tiebout (1789).
More: Broadway at City Hall Park ►
In September, 1776, many building on the west side of Broadway, between Bowling Green and Vesey Street, were burned down during the Great Fire. The old temples of Trinity Church and St. Paul’s Chapel were destroyed.
Broadway was first paved, about 1666, in the middle of the street with pebble stones. By 1790, it was paved from the Bowling Green to Vesey Street and sidewalks were laid between Vesey and Murray streets. In May 1793, the Common Council ratified assessments for the paving of Great George Street from Vesey Street to Murray Street. Asphalt pavement was laid down in 1900.
In 1793, measures were taken to extend Great George Street from near Duane Street to more than a mile further north. In 1794, Great George Street was officially renamed Broadway.
Several of the early skyscrapers in NYC were built along Broadway in the last decades of the 19th century, when it became known as the Great White Way, after being the first street in New York lit by electric light. In 1904, the first subway line was opened and the Times Square Station became the subway system’s most important hub, quickly taking passengers to Broadway above 42nd Street.
In the early 20th century, the name Broadway became associated with its famous theaters, reaching an all-time high of 80 and 280 new productions in the 1920s.
More: Broadway in the 19th Century ►
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