I love Forgotten NY’s Street Necrology section, in which they pour over old city maps to find streets and roads that no longer exist – some having been covered by buildings or parks, others renamed or rerouted, others simply gone. I also love finding evidence of dead streets, and am wondering if I might have come across something in Williamsburg.
This building is at the corner of Driggs Ave and Broadway, right over the Williamsburg Bridge (you can see a piece of the bridge on the left). So if it’s at Driggs and Broadway…
Why does the lettering on the corner of the building just behind this pole say “Fifth and B’Way”?
I can’t seem to find an answer. I spent some time looking through this great collection of old Brooklyn street maps, and Driggs seems to always have been Driggs. I was wondering if it might have originally been an extension of Fifth Avenue, but that really wouldn’t make sense. Then I started wondering if maybe this building was moved to its present location from a different address…except Broadway and Fifth run parallel and never meet.
Then I started thinking that maybe it’s just a really old mistake. Any ideas?
Commenters with way more knowlege of the city than I have revealed that Driggs Ave was once in fact Fifth Street (opened in 1850), while Bedford Ave was then known as Fourth Street. Commenter FTA pointed out this similar inaccuracy on the Bedford Cheese Shop building:
Despite being at the corner of North 4th Street and Bedford…
The engraving on the building’s corner reads “Fourth St and North 4th Street.”
I can’t believe I’ve never noticed that before – I’ve shot the Cheese Shop building a million times. Commenter Brooks pointed out a wonderful resource called Hypercities, which overlays Google maps with mapes dating back hundreds of years. As of 1849, this is how Williamsburg streets were named:
Let me know if you notice any other remnants of the old street numbering system.
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