by Don Friedman on November 17, 2016


The eagle-eyed reader may notice that there is no street at that sign for Temple Street. The sign’s not wrong, just a bit out of date. The street on the left is Liberty, the street dead ahead is Broadway. Here’s the Google version:


Zuccotti Park runs, east west, from Trinity Place/Church Street to Broadway. No Temple Street.

Here’s the 1894 Sanborn map of the area:


And there’s Temple Street. As far as I know, it was never any longer than those two blocks and in the greater scheme of things it was superfluous. Broadway and Trinity Place are not so far apart as to need a parallel street between. That said, Temple Street did not die a peaceful death but rather was killed by two real-estate deals. The first is clearly seen in the 1905 Sanborn:


Notice that (1) the block of Thames Street between Trinity and Broadway seems to have come unmoored and drifted a bit to the north, (2) the block between Thames and Cedar is shown empty, (3) the south block of Temple Street has disappeared into that empty block, and (4) the strip of land between the old 111 Broadway (the Trinity Building) and the moved Thames Street is marked as a “proposed building.” In short, 111 Broadway was bounded by the Trinity Church graveyard to the south and Thames Street to the north, and when the U.S. Realty Company needed a wider lot to build a skyscraper there, the street was easier to move than the graves. The old 111 was replaced by the new 111 (where OSE has been for the past seven years) and the vacant lot created by moving the street was replaced by the U.S. Realty Building, 115 Broadway.

Deal number two was a few decades later. The monolith that fills the block between Church, Broadway, Liberty and Cortlandt, built in 1968 for U.S. Steel and now known as One Liberty Plaza, is and was too big for zoning. The deal made between the company and the city was to demolish the two blocks between Cedar and Liberty and turn them into a park, demapping the north half of Temple Street in the process, and providing the open space that the tower doesn’t have.

I don’t know why there’s a sign commemorating Temple Street, but I like it.

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