28 July 2009

Place Where the Names Have No Streets Now Has No Names Either

For some years now, there were a couple street signs on Columbia which pointed to streets that no longer existed. Irving Street and Sedgwick Street. The green signs were there, but when you cast your gaze to the west, all you saw were stubby stretches of seeming driveway cut dead by a chain-link fence. Beyond that was a parking lot and a field of weeds. The street were demapped in 1991.

I enjoyed those ghost signs. So, apparently, did a reporter at the New York Time, who wrote a lengthy piece about them in 2004. Now, however, they've gone the way of the streets themselves and disappeared. I'm not sure when this happened. There's been a lot of construction on Columbia in recent years. But I suspect it has something to do with the Brooklyn Greenway project. An off-street bike and pedestrian paths on the west side of Columbia Street, that is serving as the Interim Greenway there, recently opened for business. Around the same time, all the old signs has vanished, save one. The Sedgwick Street sign pictured below, on the east side of Columbia, remains. I suspect it was overlooked because the sign is partially obscured from sight by a tree.

One of the places where the Irving Street sign once hung, meanwhile, now holds up a birdhouse (above).

Irving and Sedgwick were once happening places, if you liked crimes scenes. As the Times article indicated, the two roads, which ran west from Columbia to the docks, were the scene of non-stop factory fires, many of them suspicious, and one in 1862 so notorious (hundreds of Irishmen attacks a few dozen blacks inside a tobacco factory) that it was called The Sedgwick Street Riot by the press.

Payroll robberies took place. People fell off the piers and drowned. Illegal liquor was produced. A steamship plowed into Sedgwick pier and smashed it, injuring many. My favorite detail: a floating hotel moored at the end of Sedgwick where two couples were once married on the same night. Aww.


c'รจ montessori said...

Damn you cyclists! First you almost nearly hit me every single day, now this! This is super interesting as is that Times piece on the two streets. Thanks Brooke

Brett said...

Thanks, I always wondered the sory of the Sedgewick Street. sign.