NYC's Forgotten 13th Ave Offers A Glimpse Into The City's Hopes and History

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Detail of an 1885 map showing 13th Avenue
Photo: NYPL

It may not have a Pickleback shot bar or a Cronut® bakery — or anything really, for that matter — but Thirteenth Avenue has got a whole lot of history.

Last week, Curbed traced the history of New York’s shortest and most neglected avenue.

In 1837, the City optimistically sold underwater lots to private investors, which were meant to be filled with nearby landfill and used to expand Manhattan westward into the Hudson River.

However, the avenue became known as a seedy and impoverished industrial district within a few decades. A blog dedicated to the avenue cites an 1883 Times article that calls it a “very peculiar avenue […] of little account” and “a dreary waste.”

Around the turn of the century, New York condemned and destroyed most of these plots to establish the larger and more accommodating Chelsea Piers.

The city originally planned for the avenue to stretch all the way to 135th Street, built with dirt excavating [sic] from upper Manhattan’s hills. But 13th Avenue never made it out of Chelsea.

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13th Avenue as seen from the north, with World Financial Center in background

Today, the only remaining stretch of the avenue is on the Gansevoort Peninsula, west of the Meatpacking District and currently occupied by sanitation department facilities.

As 13th Ave is publicly inaccessible, trying to visit is not recommended, but this all may change if a Hudson River Park Trust plan to convert the space to a “play lawn” and recreational boating area is realized.

via Curbed

Akiva Blander

Akiva Blander

Contributing Writer

Born and raised in Brooklyn, Akiva can be found biking around Prospect Park, eating cheap street food or frantically trying to keep tabs on all the city's happenings.

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