The “Prince” Who New York’s Prince Street Is Named After

Was New York’s Prince Street’s Name Derived From Royalty?

Prince Street Bromley & Robinson 1879 Atlas of New York

Some of the original names given to the streets of New York when under Dutch and English rule have survived to the present day.

Many streets owe their name to local landmarks or the aristocracy and heroes of 17th and 18th century New York, including Delancey Street, Duane Street and Houston Street named after James De Lancey, James Duane and William Houstoun.

After the revolution, New York generally jettisoned the name of streets related to royalty. According to John J. Post in his excellent book Old Streets, Roads, Lanes, Piers and Wharves of New York (1882) there were once seven George Streets. The entire street or portions were renamed Beekman, Bleecker, Hudson, Market. Park. Rose and Spruce Streets. The extremely royal street named King George Street was changed to William Street.

But what of Prince Street? It is said that Prince street is named after an English prince. But which one?

Pre-Revolution Prince Street’s were all renamed. Prince Graft and Princes Graftt became Broad Street. Prince Street, Princen Straat and Princes Street became Beaver Street. The Street that became Rose Street was also previously named Prince Street.

The remaining Prince Street of today which runs from the Bowery to Sixth Avenue is named not after an English prince, but a scion of Flushing, Queens.

In the History of Queens County, New York, with Illustrations, Portraits, & Sketches of Prominent Families and Individuals (1882) published by W.W. Munsell & Co., comes this passage about the Prince family:

Samuel Prince, who was born May 20th 1728, married Ruth Carman April 24th 1751, and had nine children,  named respectively Robert, Elizabeth, James, Mary, Samuel 1st, Samuel 2nd, Elizabeth 2nd, Margaret and Susannah. Prince street in New York city was named from this Samuel Prince, who had a considerable tract of land there.

A corroborating account of the Prince family street name appears in Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs of the Lehigh Valley Pennsylvania (1905).

The conclusion is don’t believe everything you read on the internet. Every other website’s explanation of Prince Street’s naming is incorrect.

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