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Houston Street redirects here. For the Major League Baseball player with a similar name, see Huston Street.
Houston Street
Length: 2 mi (3.2 km)
West end: NY-9A.svg NY 9A/West Side Highway
East end: FDR Drive Shield.svg FDR Drive
Counties: New York
Houston Street looking west, from The Bowery

Houston Street (pronounced /ˈhaʊstən/, HOW-stən) is a major east-west thoroughfare in downtown Manhattan. It runs crosstown across the full width of the borough of Manhattan, from Pier 40 on the Hudson River, through the Port Authority Truck Terminal on Greenwich Street, to the East River, and serves as the boundary between the neighborhoods of Greenwich Village and SoHo on the West Side, and between the East Village and the Lower East Side on the East Side. The numeric street-naming grid in Manhattan, created as part of the Commissioners' Plan of 1811, begins immediately north of Houston Street with 1st Street at Avenue A, although the grid does not take full hold until 13th Street.[1]

Contents

Street description

Houston Street looking east, from Bowery

Houston Street begins at an interchange with the FDR Drive in East River Park. The road begins as a divided highway and intersects with Columbia Street and East 2nd Street. Avenue B and several local streets intersect the road.

Continuing west through 6th Avenue

After the intersection with the Bowery, Houston Street becomes a regular two-way city street and continues west. Lafayette Street and Broadway intersect soon after. After the Broadway intersection, East Houston Street becomes known as West Houston Street. West Houston, to Sixth Avenue, went through an extensive renovation process from 2006 to 2008. 6th Avenue intersects at a curve in the road in Greenwich Village. West of that point, the street narrows and becomes one way westbound. West Houston Street comes to an end at an intersection with West Street and North River Pier 40.

History

Houston Street (1917), George Luks. Oil on canvas, Saint Louis Art Museum.
  • Houston Street is named for William Houstoun, who was a Delegate to the Continental Congress for the State of Georgia from 1784 through 1786 and to the United States Constitutional Convention in 1787.[1] The street was christened by Nicholas Bayard III, whose daughter, Mary, was married to Houstoun in 1788.[2] The couple met while Houstoun, a member of an ancient and aristocratic Scottish family, was serving in the Congress.
  • Bayard cut the street through a tract he owned in the vicinity of Canal Street in which he lived, and the city later extended it to include North Street, the northern border of New York's east side at the beginning of the 19th Century.[2]
  • The current spelling of the name is a corruption: the street appears as Houstoun in the city's Common Council minutes for 1808 and the official map drawn in 1811 to establish the street grid that is still current. In those years, the Texas hero Sam Houston, for whom the street is sometimes incorrectly said to have been named, was an unknown teenager in Tennessee.[1] Also mistaken is the explanation that the name derives from the Dutch words huis for house and tuin for Garden.[2]
  • In 1891, Nikola Tesla established his Houston Street laboratory. Much of Tesla's research was lost in the 1895 Houston Street lab fire.
  • The street, originally narrow, was markedly widened from Sixth Avenue to Essex Street in the early 1930s during construction of the Independent (IND) Subway System.[3] The IND's construction resulted in numerous small, empty lots on both sides of the street where buildings were demolished. Although some of these lots have been redeveloped, many of them are now used by vendors, and some have been turned into community gardens.
  • Lower Manhattan's SoHo district takes its name from an acronym for "South Of Houston;" the street serves as SoHo's northern boundary. The neighborhood north of Houston Street is correspondingly sometimes referred to as "NoHo."

Pronunciation

The street name Houston confuses many people from outside of New York (invariably becoming one of the easiest signs of spotting tourists) because the letters "ou" are pronounced as in the word house (pronounced /ˈhaʊstən/), whereas the same letters in the name of the city of Houston, Texas are pronounced like the "u" in huge (pronounced /ˈhjuːstən/ or /ˈjuːstən/, "HYOO-stin"). This is because Houston Street was named for William Houstoun (note that the spelling is different), long before the fame of Sam Houston, for whom the city in Texas is named.

Transportation

As of 2006, Houston Street is served by the M21 bus from Avenue C to Washington Street. From Broadway to Sixth Avenue, Houston Street is also served by the M5 (southbound buses only). The subway stations that lie on Houston Street are Lower East Side–2nd Avenue (F and V), Broadway–Lafayette Street (B, D, F, and V), and Houston Street (1). Exit 5 on the FDR Drive is on Houston Street.

References

  1. ^ a b c Peretz Square, New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. Accessed July 12, 2007. "North Street, then the northern boundary of settled Manhattan, was later renamed for William Houstoun, a Georgia delegate to the Continental Congress; at the time of the renaming, the more famous Sam Houston was an unknown teenager"
  2. ^ a b c Moscow, Henry. The Street Book: An Encyclopedia of Manhattan's Street Names and Their Origins. New York: Fordham University Press, 1990. ISBN 0-8232-1275-0. P. 61.
  3. ^ Streetscapes/Houston Street -- Amid the Giant Ad Signs, New Buildings Sprout, NY Times, April 18, 2004 http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F02EFDC1E38F93BA25757C0A9629C8B63

External links

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