Bowling Green, looking North. The Cunard Building I wrote about the other day is on the left in the background.

Bowling Green, looking north. The Cunard Building I wrote about the other day is on the left between the truck and the bus.

One thing I always conveyed during my tours at the Roosevelt Birthplace was how far back the family goes here in the city. The Roosevelts trace their New York City roots back well over three centuries. Here is an example of that. I took these two images, one looking north and one south, of Bowling Green the other day. Most early New York City life took place in this vicinity. The Roosevelt & Son hardware concern, founded in the 1790s, was near here. Johannes Roosevelt, the patriarch to whom the Oyster Bay Roosevelts trace their lineage (as opposed to his brother Jacobus, who began the Hudson Valley Roosevelt line), was in business around these parts even earlier. Johannes was born around 1689 and worked as a merchant providing goods and services for the shipping industry.

Bowling Green, looking South. That is the Custom House in the distance.

Bowling Green, looking south. That is the Custom House in the background.

Bowling Green is called bowling green for a logical reason: people bowled here. Decades prior to the American Revolution Johannes and two associates received a public concession to operate and maintain this space. The nominal fee was one peppercorn a year.