Love Lane: The most romantic street in Brooklyn
Just one block long, Love Lane may be the sweetest lane in Brooklyn Heights. The little byway connects Henry Street to Hicks Street and dates back to the earliest days of the city.
There are several stories about how the street, which once crossed several blocks of the Heights to the East River, got its name.
According to Ephemeral New York, the former carriageway has a long history as a place for romance. In pre-Colonial times, it is said to have been a Native American trail leading to the East River. When the Dutch arrived, it became a “popular path for romantic walks.”
Ephemeral New York quotes the fanciful description of the lane published in an 1894 New York Times article:
“The oldest residents can remember a time when there was a cool and shady path leading down ‘Lover’s Lane,’ where plump, rosy-cheeked Dutch maidens, with their sweethearts, meandered on summer evenings out through the turnstile and down the grassy bank to the water’s edge.”
According to Robert Furman’s “Brooklyn Heights: The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of America’s First Suburb,” around 1800 Sarah De Bevoise, a young resident of the block, was so alluring that young men from the area carved love poems to her in the fence around the family’s house, turning the passageway into a lane of love.
The Daily News has a less delicate take on the walkway:
“Love Lane takes its name because it was a popular necking area where men would park their carriages in the 1880s before dropping their girlfriends off at the all-girls college [Brooklyn Collegiate Institute for Young Ladies] around the corner.”
And even though Love Lane, over time, became truncated (as love often is, alas), a one-block section from its bucolic past has been preserved.
In a story for the Brooklyn Eagle in 2016, reporter Lore Croghan wrote:
“There’s a patch of sylvan greenery that runs alongside a handsome carriage house at 151 Willow St. The green oasis is situated on land that long, long ago was an extension of a sweet little street called Love Lane.”
Croghan said the greenspace was protected from development “by the thoughtful actions of two of the heroes of New York City landmarking, Otis and Nancy Pearsall.”
“In 1977, the couple, whose house is just down the block, purchased the carriage house and the vacant land,” Croghan reports. “And they drew up ‘preservation easements’ that forbid the construction of new buildings or changes to the landscaping without the approval of the New York Landmarks Conservancy.”
So in some small, secret way, in Brooklyn Heights, the cool and shady path of love is forever.
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