The Origins of Gansevoort Street
Gansevoort Street traces the route of a Lenape footpath through the settlement of Sapokanikan (“land where the tobacco grows”). The path extended from the Hudson River to a location near present day Washington Square Park where it connected to the Mohican Trail, which later became Broadway. For the Lenape, the Hudson River was an abundant source of fish and shellfish in the pre-colonial era, including large oysters, lobsters, and fish that were so numerous they could be caught by hand. Pushed out of the city by the Dutch as New Amsterdam grew, the old footpath became a street. Originally called Old Kill Road and then Great Kill Road, the street was renamed in 1837 to honor Revolutionary War General Peter Gansevoort. In 1812, a fort was built at the base of Gansevoort Street to defend against a possible British invasion in the War of 1812. The fort was demolished in 1851 when the New York shoreline was extended with landfill.
Gansevoort’s grandson, Herman Melville, who wrote the great American novel Moby Dick, worked for 20 years as a customs inspector on the docks at the foot of Gansevoort Street.
Gansevoort Market Historic District: State and National Register of Historic Places Registration Form (2007).
Gansevoort Market Historic District: Designation Report. New York Landmarks Preservation Commission (2003).
The High Line website
Off the Grid. Village Preservation blog.