The Vauxhall Gardens


The Vauxhall Gardens (in New York City), was a pleasure garden and theater. It was named for the Vauxhall Gardens of London. Though the venue passed through a long list of owners, and suffered buyouts, closings, relocations, and re-openings, it lasted until the mid-19th century.

Opened, 1722

The original Vauxhall Gardens was located in a smaller site on Greenwich Street near the Hudson River between what later became Warren and Chambers streets in the fashionable Sixth Ward; Public School 234 stands at the site today. Ratzer's map shows its square garden plot, conventionally divided in four by walks.

Purchased, Oct, 1773

Fraunces operated Vaux-Hall through Summer 1773; in October, he auctioned its contents and sold the property. His notice mentioned two large gardens, a house with four rooms per floor and twelve fireplaces, and a dining hall that was 56 feet long and 26 feet wide, with a kitchen below.? The Vauxhall offered light summer concerts? and featured an outdoor wax museum. For the summer 1768 season, it hosted an exhibit on the life of Scipio Africanus that included a grove with a reconstruction of the military leader at his tent.

Moved, 1798

By this point, the gardens had two namesake competitors, one of which was primarily popular for its ice cream. As New York City expanded, streets of rowhouses with rear gardens swallowed the site. In 1798, owner Joseph Delacroix moved his operations to Broome Street between Broadway and the Bowery.

Moved, 1805

In 1805, it moved, this time to Lafayette Street, stretching from 4th to 8th streets in what were then the northern reaches of the city,? the area that later became Astor Place, 4th Street, Broadway, and the Bowery.? Its theater's boxes faced the garden and blocked the stage from the street.

Related People
John Jacob Astor,The Vauxhall Gardens, Lafayette Street, area later belonged to John Jacob Astor. In 1826, he carved out an upper-class neighborhood from the site with Lafayette Street bisecting eastern gardens from western homes. Wealthy New Yorkers, including Astor and other members of the family, built mansions along this central thoroughfare. Astor built the Astor Library in the eastern portion of the neighborhood as a donation to the city. Architect Seth Geer designed eye-catching row houses called LaGrange Terrace for the development, and the area became a fashionable, upper-class residential district.The location made the gardens accessible to the people of both Broadway and Bowery districts. In the summer of 1838, the owners opened a saloon for the staging of vaudeville comic operas. Later theatre managers expanded the offerings to appeal to a wider range of patrons.By 1850, the rowdier crowds of the Bowery had mostly scared off the upper classes, and revenues suffered. The theater buildings were demolished in 1855,? and the gardens closed for the last time in 1859.

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