Lafayette Street


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Lafayette Street is a major north-south street in New York City's Lower Manhattan, which runs roughly parallel to Broadway to the west. Originally, the part of the street below Houston Street was called Elm Place.
Lafayette Street originates at the intersection of Reade Street and Centre Street in Lower Manhattan; this intersection is one block north of City Hall. The one-way street then successively runs through Chinatown, Little Italy, Nolita, and NoHo and finally, between 9th and 10th Streets, merges with Fourth Avenue. A buffered bike lane runs outside of the left traffic lane.
The IRT Lexington Avenue Line runs under Lafayette Street, with stops at Canal Street, Spring Street, Bleecker Street, and Astor Place.

The street (Lafayette Street) originated as a real estate speculation by John Jacob Astor, who had bought a large market garden in 1804, for $45,000, and leased part of the site to a Frenchman named Delacroix, who erected a popular resort and called it "Vauxhall Gardens" after the famous resort on the edge of London. When the lease expired in 1825, Astor cut a new street through, a three block cul-de-sac beginning at Astor Place, which he named Lafayette Place to commemorate the Revolutionary war hero, who had returned to a rapturous reception in America the previous year. Lots along both sides of the new street sold briskly, earning Astor many times what he had paid for the land two decades before. The grandest was the terrace of matching marble-fronted Greek Revival houses on the west side of the Lafayette Street, called La Grange Terrace when it was built in 1833, but known to New Yorkers as "Colonnade Row" for the two-story order of Corinthian columns that unified its fronts; the nine residences each sold for as much as $30,000; four that remain are the only survivors of the first fashionable residential phase of Lafayette Street, which gained its new name when the city cut through cul-de-sac and extended the street south.
The change in Lafayette Street's history is epitomized by the construction of the Schermerhorn Building in 1888 to replace the Schermerhorn mansion, where Mrs William Colford Schermerhorn had redecorated the interior to resemble Louis XV's Versailles, it was thought, to give a French-themed costume ball in 1854 for six hundred New Yorkers, at which the German Cotillion was introduced in America. A sign of changing times, in 1860 the W.C. Schermerhorns moved uptown to 49 West 23rd Street. Before long, half of Colonnade Row was demolished to make way for a warehouse for Wanamaker's Department Store. Wanamaker's had taken over A.T. Stewart's palatial dry-goods store that occupied the full block between Broadway and Lafayette and 9th and 10th Streets, and had also built an equally gigantic Annex next door between 8th and 9th Streets, with a skywalk connecting the two buildings. The main Lafayette Street store burnt down in 1956, but the annex and warehouse buildings remain extant on Lafayette.

Lafayette Street Landmarks are:
Alamo, a cube-shaped sculpture in Astor Place
The New York Mercantile Library building at Astor Place (George E. Harney, arch., 1891), once the site of the Astor Opera House, now condominiums
Astor Library (1854), founded by John Jacob Astor, now housing The Public Theater
Colonnade Row (1833), four of a series of nine Greek revival row houses; the Astor Place Theatre is in one
The Schermerhorn Building, built for the Schermerhorns in 1888 to designs by Henry Janeway Hardenbergh, to replace the Schermerhorn mansion.
The War Resisters League and the NoHo Star on Bleecker Street;
The Puck Building on East Houston Street
The firehouse at 87 Lafayette at White Street, built in 1895 by Napoleon LeBrun, now the Downtown Community Television Center
The New York City Rescue Mission on White Street
The Ahrens Building, built by George Henry Griebel, and the City Municipal Court Building on the south side of White Street
Family Court on Franklin Street
The Department of Health, Hospitals and Sanitation on Leonard Street
Federal Plaza, which includes the Jacob Javits Federal Building on Worth Street
Foley Square, named after Tammany Hall's "Big Tom" Foley, on Pearl Street

Lafayette Street: "Summer streets"
For three Saturdays in August 2008 the New York City Department of Transportation closed Lafayette Street, Park Avenue, and part of East 72nd Street to motor traffic, as a "Summer Streets" program to encourage non-motor uses. This Lafayette Street program was renewed in 2009 for the dates of August 8th, 15th, and 22nd, 2009 from 7:00 AM to 1:00 PM and for 2010 on August 7, 14 and 21.