What’s In A Name – The Final Episode!
I counted over 500 roadways on a current map of the greater Plattsburgh Area (available at the Chamber of Commerce and other locations!) Comparing this to the 1877 and 1899 maps, you can see the tremendous expansion of our city. I’ve given you some of the history of the street names, but here’s some other little bits of street trivia that I call Odds & Ends.
1907 postcard of Margaret Street, Plattsburgh, NY
Some streets are named for what or where they are
Bridge Street was called that because the main feature is the bridge. The street was first constructed on March 24, 1800. The bridge has been replaced several times.
When the new Bridge Street Bridge opened on Nov. 11, 1930, a crowd of around 5,000 spectators turned out for a military and civic parade led by the 26th Infantry Band and 26th Infantry color Guard. A dedication ceremony featured an address by the New York State Historical Society President. A plaque was placed on the bridge to commemorate the event and the fact that the bridge was built by local artisans using local stone.
The stone construction replaced the old steel truss bridge. The Wonderland Theatre, the first movie house in Plattsburgh, was demolished to make way for a stone staircase leading down to a park alongside the Saranac River toward the Macdonough Monument..
Division Street got it’s name from a division of the New York Stock Exchange that set up a ticker in the late 1920s in the rear of the Witherill Hotel.
Protection Avenue was first called Church Alley (because it connected Margaret St. to the Churches on Oak St.) It was renamed because the village police station and a number of the early volunteer Fire Companies were located there.
Broad St was, well, broad (wide). Nathaniel Platt owned a number of lots in the vicinity of Broad Street and was responsible for the extra width of that street. His exact reason for that has been lost to history.
Oak Street was originally named Boynton Lane in 1805, but shortly after it was called Lover’s Lane. At this time the street only extended from Broad St. to Cornelia. By the 1820s the street had been extended to Boynton Ave. and was named Oak Street for the “magnificent” old oak tree that stood in front of the Oak Tree Inn (now where Stafford Middle School is located). There were no other oak trees on the street and now there isn’t even that one!
I’ll let you guess the origin of Court Street! (Hint: look at the building on the corner at Margaret St.)
The old Court House and the Cumberland Hotel across the street. Notice the plank sidewalk!!
Then there was the street that wasn’t
On some very early city maps you might find Gold Street. It was never completed. The plan was to connect Brinkerhoff St. to Court St., but that would have removed some valuable business real estate. So plans were abandoned. Today you can see where it was started with the alley on Brinkerhoff St. next to the State Bank of Albany.
See the entire 1852 map of the city in the Plattsburgh Public Library
And then there was the misspelled street name
The early settlers in the vicinity of Main Mill Street were from the state of Maine. Some how the “e” was lost!
The Rattlesnake Den and The Dog Kennel Corner
At the corner of Margaret and Bridge streets stood the 2-story stone Clinton County Bank owned and occupied in 1846 by Amos Prescott as a jewelry, stationery, and book store. After the fire of 1849, Prescott rebuilt and continued his business. He was a “soft shell” Democrat but after the Fremont campaign became a Republican, and his store was a headquarters for the Republicans. In derision it was called the “rattlesnake den,” and the corner was “Rattlesnake corner,” a favorite loafing spot. The Democratic headquarters was the store of William Reed across the street, and this was known as the “dog kennel.” It is said that from morning till evening when the church bell rang at nine o’clock, Samuel Couch, Tarleton, and others talked politics in the Prescott store.*
*Old Plattsburgh by Marjorie Lansing Porter, 1944.
The Rattlesnake Den and Dog Kennel Corner became more commonly known in the early 1900s as Cady’s Corner. The Cady Drug Store was a local landmark.
Early streets were just dirt roads. Streets were either dusty or muddy. One 19th century resident told about the “good old days” when crossing Bridge Street meant slogging through deep mud and driving with mud to the hubs of the carriage wheels. In 1849, the Plattsburgh-Saranac plank road was built. Hemlock planks were used through the Plattsburgh section. Street paving didn’t happen until the 20th century.
Richard Yates erected the first lamppost at the corner of Broad and Margaret Streets in 1836. His intent was to promote street lighting. He must have been successful as a few years later Jonas Maurice was elected by the Village Board to light the street lamps in the city.
The first street number was posted on a Bridge St. business in December 1850. William K. Dana erected a 7 ft. long oval white porcelain sign on which a large number 1 was painted in black.
Plattsburgh’s first sidewalk was laid on Durkee St. in July 1851. Made of hemlock planks 1½ inch thick, it was a fashionable promenade at the time. Early each evening villagers gravitated in that direction to stroll and exchange pleasantries of the day.
Now one last tidbit of street lore:
The street now called Cumberland Avenue was formerly know as Bellevue Avenue, and before that it was called Chemin du Roi – a nod to the early French influence in our region. Nuns from Montreal rented a frame building (near where the Elk’s building is today) from Henry Delord. The nuns provided it as a hospital during the Battle of Plattsburgh in the War of 1812.
A c.1915 view of the Delord House on Cumberland Avenue
You are invited to visit the Kent-Delord House Museum at 17 Cumberland Avenue. Our tours will give you more information about the history of Plattsburgh and the fascinating role that three generations of the Delord family played in its growth!