Going back to the 1600s on my maternal grandfather’s tree, I’ve traced back to Laurens Jansen De Camp (about 1645-1719), a Huguenot who came to New Amsterdam in the 1660s. In the New World, he married Aeltje Mandeville, a Dutch woman born about 1657 in Holland. Aeltje’s father was Yellis (or Giles) Jansen de Mandeville (about 1640-1701), a man who seems to have played an important part in the real estate history of early Manhattan.
Yellis Mandeville is recorded as arriving in Dutch New Amsterdam in 1659 on the ship Trouw (Faith in English) with his wife and four children. He settled for a time on a farm in what is today the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY. By 1670, he was able to purchase 30 acres of land on the west side of lower Manhattan. The lot bordered the Hudson River, and extended north from (what is today) about 4th Street. At the time, the area was called the North District, or Noortwyck, as it was north of the original city of New Amsterdam. Yellis is supposed to have coined the term Greenwich, naming it after the small village of his Flatbush farm, which was called the Pine District, or “Greenwijck” in Dutch. As the British had taken over Manhattan by this time, the name was anglicized to Greenwich. The first time the designation of Greenwich Village appears in historic records was in Yellis’s will, written in 1696. His land passed to his son David, and by the mid-18th century was part of a vast estate owned by British naval officer Sir Peter Warren.
Greenwich Village evolved from an area of farms and wealthy estates in Mandeville and Warren’s time, to fashionable row houses in the mid-19th century, to small tenement apartments for recent immigrants in the late 1800s. In the early 20th century, it became known as a relatively affordable haven for bohemian artists, writers, and musicians. In recent decades, the Village has become a thriving neighborhood with highly desirable and very expensive real estate. This summer, the median selling price for a Village home (including apartments) was $1.4 million.
The thought of what Yellis Mandeville’s 30 acres would fetch today boggles the mind.
- New Netherlands Institute, A Tour of New Netherland, Greenwich Village
- City University of NY Macauley School, Greenwich Village History, 2019
- Realtor.com, Greenwich Village, Manhattan, NY, 2022
- Graphicus rare antique maps, 1869 Homes of Chelsea, 19th to 29th Streets, Manhattan, New York City, 2022
- Off The Grid, Village preservation blog, When Greenwich Village was farmland, 2013