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The Majestic Grand Street

The really, really big street
by Yori Yanover

Grand Street was named for its extraordinary width, which was astonishing in the eyes of the average colonist in 1766, when the street was laid out. It was the thoroughfare to Corlaers Hook, where you could get a ferry to Brooklyn.

That’s it, really, it’s called Grand Street because it’s a really, really big street. Wow, look at the big street, isn’t it grand? I know, let’s name it… Like that.

Corlaers Hook, a point of land on the East River, was also called Crown Point during the British period. It was an important landmark for navigators for 300 years. On older maps and documents it is usually spelled Corlaers, but since the early 19th Century the spelling has been anglicized to Corlears. It was named after Jacobus van Corlaer, who settled there prior to 1640. The original location of Corlaers Hook is now obscured by shoreline landfill. It was near the east end of the present pedestrian bridge over the FDR Drive near Cherry Street.

Across the river, the Bushwick denizens were farmers, gardeners, their produce had to be conveyed to the city markets across the river. Every ferry established on the Williamsburg shore led to a public market in NYC. Williamsburg was started when the Grand St market, known as Corlears Hook Market was established in a crude form. For about 140 years the site of the later Williamsburg was known as the Bushwick Shore & the Bushwick town people called it,The Strand. There was a little hamlet near the shore in the days of the Revolutionary War. James Hazard who lived across the river on Corlears Hook, operated since 1797 a rowboat ferry between his place and the Titus farm on the Bushwick shore. He soon became actively engaged in starting a settlement here in partnership with Thomas Morrell.


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