1.06.2011

A Roundtrip Walk to Stuyvesant Square and Vicinity

A walk north to Stuyvesant Square, a park situated between E. 15th St. and E 17th St. and named in honor of Peter "Old Peg-Leg" Stuyvesant (c. 1612-1672), Director General of New Netherland, could begin on Stuyvesant Street and 3rd Avenue in the East Village and then proceed to St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery at the street's intersection with 2nd Avenue. It would be a relevant starting place. "Pieter" or "Petrus" Stuyvesant is interned here. The current church, built by his great-grandson, is on the corner where the Stuyvesant family chapel once stood during the Dutch period. The church and its grounds are worth exploring, but there will be other remarkable sites along the way ahead, including many more references to Petrus, Pieter, Peters, and Pete's.

Peter Stuyvesant in Stuyvesant Square. Peg-legged.

Between E. 15th Street and E. 17th Street, Second Avenue bisects Stuyvesant Square. On the west side, several houses of worship dominate the park - the modernist St. Mary's Catholic Church on the south, and the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and St. George's Episcopal Church along Rutherford Place on the west, and East End Temple Congregation El Emet on the north side. In the park, a statue of Peter Stuyvesant, jaunty peg-leg and all, serves as a focal point, a rather ironic situation as Peter persecuted many of the religious groups that now surround him. Many New Yorkers are familiar with this area, as they make doctor visits to the Beth Israel Medical Center to the east. (The staff on this side of the park could have helped with that peg-leg.) Farther to the east is the large residential complex of Stuyvesant Town.


Augustus Saint-Gaudens Playground. Gate on 2nd Avenue.

Venturing north of the park on 2nd Avenue make note of the playground between E. 19th and E. 20th Streets on the east side of the avenue. The playground is named after the great French-Irish-American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907), the creator of the Admiral Farragut Monument in Madison Square Park, the Sherman statue in Grand Army Plaza, and the Peter Cooper Monument in Cooper Square, among many others. He was raised in New York, apprenticed to a cameo cutter while taking art classes. He left for Paris to study at the École des Beaux-Arts. When he returned to New York he met with great success, often working with established architects like Stanford White. (His most moving work is in the Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, D.C. - the Adams Memorial, commissioned by writer Henry Adams as a memorial to his wife, Clover.)

one of the plaques at Peter's Field, sidewalk, east side of 2nd Avenue.

On the block just to the north of the playground, between 20th and 21st Streets and First and Second Avenues, a place called Peter's Field is named in honor of both Peter Stuyvesant and Peter Cooper (1791-1883), the latter an inventor, manufacturer, and New York philanthropist. In 1997 New York City Councilman Antonio Pagan funded the renovation of this school playground (and the Saint-Gaudens Playground, too). Concrete plaques near the sidewalk along Sixth Avenue celebrate other famous guys named Peter - ones with magic powers over children, including Peter Pan, Peter Parker (aka Spider-Man), Peter Piper, Peter Pumpkin Eater, Peter Rabbit, and the Peter of Peter and the Wolf's. It's a charming surprise to encounter these creatures along an otherwise pedestrian strip of 2nd Avenue.

along Irving Place

As a way to return to the beginning, a quick walk east to Gramercy Park a few blocks away would be in order and then a walk down Irving Place. As there have been so many guys named Peter along the stroll, you may as well celebrate with a drink at the always-friendly Pete's Tavern. Continue to Union Square, as noted on the map, and down Broadway, stopping to shop for books at the Strand Bookstore and later taking a peek inside the Gothic revival Grace Church, a National Historic Landmark. Swing down to Astor Place and you'll be near the beginning. The walk is less than two miles but it accomplishes much. This is a very fine restaurant neighborhood, so you won't starve either.


View A Walk to Stuyvesant Square in a larger map

Several subway stops are in close proximity to this walk.
Images by Walking Off the Big Apple from January 2, 2011.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I'd like to know whether or not the statue sculptured into the New York building shown as part of the Judge Judy show is Peter Stuyvesant??