This week, research requests to the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation converged and pointed us to a unique image in our Historic Image Archive. Titled “The old pear-tree planted by Governor Stuyvesant at the corner of Third Avenue and 13th Street,” the image (known as a lithograph) was printed in 1861 in a Manual of the Common Council of the City of New York, or as they are popularly known, Valentine’s Manuals. Named after David T. Valentine, the clerk of the Common Council, these volumes are an excellent source of images and records of 19th Century New York City.
There are two different series of Valentine’s Manuals. The first set were printed from 1841/2 to 1866, until David Valentine’s death, and again from 1868-1870 under successive City clerks. The second series were printed by Henry Collins Brown, founder of the Museum of the City of New York and prolific author and publisher. He wanted to “fill the gap between 1866, the year in which Valentine discontinued his work, and 1916, when [h]e commenced.” You can read more about the Valentine’s Manuals on the New York Bound Books.com website.
The Old Pear Tree was located on the property of Peter Stuyvesant, the last Dutch Director General of New Netherland. His property ran roughly from Twenty-Third Street to the north, Sixth Street to the south, Fourth Avenue to the west and Avenue C to the east. You can read more about the pear tree in this past Off the Grid post, which is incidentally how we connected with one of the researchers who inspired this post. The pear tree, according to the New York Times, lived for two centuries. The newspaper noted the historic tree’s demise in an article from February 27, 1867. The Valentine lithograph captures the tree only six years before it was split in two by a “collision of vehicles.”
To learn more about the GVSHP Historic Image Archive, visit it here.