"The original street plan of early New Amsterdam is still preserved in many parts of lower Manhattan," noted the New York Sun in 1914. "The shortest street in New York, Edgar Street, is one of the most picturesque of these survivals linking the busy modern city with the past."
Edgar Street, then just 57 feet long, was located in the Syrian Quarter, a community of immigrants from present-day Syria and Lebanon.
Edgar Street's diminutive size and history of endurance remain an inspiration to Edgar Street Books , a small but mighty imprint on New York's Lower East Side.
The Story of Edgar Street
William Edgar, a successful fur trader and shipping merchant, arrived in New York City in 1783. "Something of a skinflint," wrote historian David B. Dill Jr., "Edgar passed his long life making money."
Edgar earned his fortune as a supplier and financial agent to the British army during the Revolutionary War before switching to the American side.
Ninth Avenue El at Edgar Street looking north, 1941. Collection of the New-York Historical Society
Today's Edgar Street was moved 30 feet north and lengthened to 63 feet in 1953 after construction of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. Much of the Syrian Quarter was demolished to build the tunnel's entrance ramps.
Edgar Street, 1914. Courtesy of the New-York Historical Society
Edgar Street extended from Trinity Place to the Hudson River waterfront until the 19th century, when landfill moved the river's edge farther away.
The Edgar family mansion, described as "the white marble palace," was built at 7 Greenwich Street. Nearby Edgar Street served as a driveway to the Edgar manse.
To Edgar Street's south is the Elizabeth H. Berger Plaza, a triangular landscaped traffic island. The plaza is one of the New York Parks Department's greenstreets.
Edgar Street's original footprint lies beneath the plaza.
Edgar Street Books publishes an exclusive list of titles on New York City and rock music history. We do not accept unsolicited submissions at this time.