Way, way back in the olden times, William Houstoun, a delegate from the State of Georgia married a girl named Mary. Mary’s father was a pretty wealthy guy and wanted to honor his daughter’s new husband, so he named a street after him. And so begins the history of Houston Street.
The most interesting thing about this particular road is the pronunciation of its name: Houston. It is spelled just like that city in Texas, which to the average observer would make you think that it also sounds the same when spoken, but that is not the case. Since Houston Street was named after William Houstoun, it is pronounced the way his name was: HOUSE-ton, like the place you live followed by the unit of mass that is equal to 2,000 pounds. It is not HUGH-stun, like the actor whose last name is Jackman followed by the type of gun that uses electric volts to shock its targets. The easiest way for a New Yorker to spot a tourist is by listening to the way they pronounce that street.
Another cool thing about Houston Street is that it is the divider of neighborhoods. Have you ever heard of the NYC neighborhood SoHo? It’s an abbreviation meaning “South of Houston.”
Which NYC street name do you want to learn more about? Make a suggestion on Twitter at @GrayLineNewYork and we might feature it in out What’s in an NYC Street Name series!