A sliver of Manhattan bounded by Houston Street, First Avenue, and Avenue A, Peretz Square marks the spot where the tangled jumble of lower Manhattan meets the regularity of the Commissioners’ Plan street grid.
With the implementation of the Manhattan grid plan proposed in 1811, a new order of north-south avenues and east-west streets was imposed upon New York City. First Avenue opened to traffic in 1813, and by the end of the year, stretched from North Street to 25th Street. (North Street, then the northern boundary of settled Manhattan, was later renamed for William Houstoun, a Georgia delegate to the Continental Congress). The new grid system did not align exactly with North Street, and with the opening of First Street from North Street to First Avenue in 1824, this small triangle was formed. This area, which had been the uppermost settled area of Manhattan, became known as the Lower East Side, as the burgeoning city expanded northward.