13 Fun Facts About Stone Street

13 Fun Facts About Stone Street

As one of the oldest paved streets in New York City, Stone Street retains a lot of the European style that you would have seen in the city just a few centuries ago. At the turn of the 21st century, Stone Street was resurfaced and fitted with traditionally styled street lights to revitalize this stretch of the Financial District. Though Stone Street is deeply rooted in New York's history, it stands today as a bustling area where you can enjoy coffee right on the street or grab a drink in one of the numerous bars and restaurants. Learn more about the history of Stone Street and what you should check out if you visit today. 

The History of Stone Street

Image via Flickr by MassiveKontent
As one of New York's oldest streets, Stone Street was known for a long time by its Dutch name of Hoogh Straet, which translates as "High Street." When the British colonized the area, they named it "Duke Street" after the Duke of York, but its name was changed to Stone Street in 1794 to remove the association with the British and to acknowledge that it was one of the first paved streets in New York.

Stone Street was home to one of the first commercial breweries in America. It was built in 1632 by the Dutch East India Company, and it was the start of a brewing revolution in North America. Beer had just become highly sought after, and brewers were recruited from Britain to come and supply the colonies with their favorite drink.

After the Great Fire of 1835, many of the stores and lofts on and around Stone Street were rebuilt in Dutch Colonial Revival architectural style as a reminder of the city's Amsterdam origins. However, by the 1970s, Stone Street had fallen into disrepair, with vacant storefronts making it an uninviting spot for residents and visitors alike.

In the 1990s, The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission and Alliance for Downtown New York commissioned a prestigious architectural firm, Beyer Blinder Belle, to restore Stone Street. After its restoration, Stone Street turned into a pedestrian-only stretch of New York road featuring numerous popular restaurants, bars, and cafes. 

Stone Street in the Present Day

Stone Street is probably best known for the cobblestones that mark it out as one of the oldest streets in Manhattan. The type of road surface is actually called "Belgian block" paving and is traditionally made from handcarved stone. 

A lot of work has gone into preserving the authentic feel of New York's traditional paving while still making older areas accessible to those with disabilities. The uneven and potentially slippery surface of traditional stone streets can be treacherous, particularly in bad weather, so recent renovations have used laser-cut stone to ensure that they are as safe and easy to navigate as possible.

Visitors to Stone Street can choose from several different restaurants, cafes, and bars that use the paved area as outdoor seating. This makes it one of the only places in New York City where drinking on the street is allowed, giving visitors the chance to enjoy the historic storefronts while sipping beer or cocktails. 

Stone Street used to extend from Broad Street to Hanover Square, but when the Goldman Sachs building was constructed in the 1980s, it was cut into two sections. The eastern part of Stone Street is the pedestrian-only side, and it's officially called the Stone Street Historic District. 

Digging the foundations for the Goldman Sachs building uncovered a surprising number of historical artifacts. One remarkable artifact recovered was the remains Lovelace Tavern, which was commissioned by Governor Francis Lovelace and built in 1670 as a replacement for the first city hall in New York. Parts of the Lovelace Tavern are still exhibited behind glass inside the Goldman Sachs building. 

What To See and Do on Stone Street

Stone Street is bordered by Battery Park, Wall Street, and Broadway, so it's the perfect place to people watch and enjoy the sights and sounds of New York City without having to throw yourself into the fray.

During New York's annual Oyster Week, Stone Street hosts its own Stone Street Oyster Festival where you can enjoy freshly shucked mollusks with an assortment of accompaniments. To wash the oysters down, you can choose from an array of drinks, from beer to specially mixed cocktails, right on the street. The festival serves around 10,000 visitors every year with more than 35,000 oysters being consumed on the day. You can usually catch the Stone Street Oyster Festival toward the end of September, but the 2020 festival has been postponed. 

Harry's Restaurant, run by Harry Poulakakos, sits on the corner of Hanover Square and Stone Street and was one of the most popular eateries in the financial district for three decades. It was so popular that it was mentioned in Brett Easton Ellis's "American Psycho" and "Bonfire of the Vanities" by Tom Wolfe. 

Harry's brother, Peter, joined forces with long-time restaurateur Danny McDonald to open Ulysses on Stone Street. The Greek-Irish pub, a nod to both of their origins, is one of the most popular spots in the area. Harry himself is still involved in the business, offering the benefit of his expertise to help his family achieve the success that has made Poulakakos restaurants and bars so popular.

Other popular spots to grab a drink on Stone Street include Vintry Wine & Whiskey, The Cauldron, and Stone Street Tavern. 

The financial district of New York may not be the place you immediately think of when it comes to planning a fun day out, but Stone Street is a delightful, short stretch of road that's a must-visit. If you are planning a trip to Martin Busch Jewelers and want to soak up some of the more unusual experiences that New York has to offer, then Stone Street is a great place to start. If you discover a hidden gem that we haven't mentioned, then get in touch and tell us about your favorite place in this historic district.