Ranelagh Gardens, New York


The Ranelagh Gardens, in New York, was a 18th century resort located within the old Church Farm, north of what is now Thomas Street, between Church Street and Broadway, in Manhattan. It was established by John Jones in June 1765 and it operated until the early 1770s, when it was owned by Samuel Fraunces.

The original Ranelagh Gardens opened in London, in 1742, on the site of Ranelagh House, completed in 1689 by Richard Jones, 1st Earl of Ranelagh (1641-1712). In New York, a few resorts and pleasure gardens were opened in the 18th century.

The Ranelagh Gardens in New York was established in 1765 in a piece of land leased from the Rutgers property.


Ranelagh Gardens


Old City of New York



In the 17th century, this piece of land was called by the Dutch settlers as the Kalck-hoek and the Kalck was the small body of water, to the right, called later by the English as the Collect Pond. The 40-acre tract of land was originally granted, in 1646, by Governor Willem Kieft to Jan Jansen Damen (c.1605-1651), a Dutch trader, privateer and, in 1641, a member of the Twelve Men, a local governing board selected to advise Kieft on relations with the Native American people.

According to Stokes (Iconography of Manhattan Island, 1922), on February 3, 1723, "Richard Hill and wife conveyed to Anthony Rutgers more than ten acres of land situated, according to modern maps, west of Broadway, on both sides of Church St., from about Thomas to Leonard Sts."

Colonel Anthony Rutgers (1678-1746), was a brewer, merchant and a city alderman (North Ward), from 1727 to 1735. Benefactor of the Dutch Congregation.  In 1701, he was a surgeon of his Majesties Garrison Fort William Henry, in New York, when he rented a house for a hospital for the sick soldiers. His brother Harmanus Rutgers owned another Rutgers Farm, near East River, in the East Ward.

Rutgers built his homestead about 1730, on the westerly half of the Kalck-hoek (inside the later Ranelagh's site), on the present 232-236 Church Street, between Worth and Leonard streets. This house, with its gardens, was subsequently conducted as a pleasure resort, under the name of “Ranelagh” or the “Rangelagh Gardens.” “He surrounded his habitation with elegant shrubbery in the geometrical style of rural gardening of those days. Long walks bordered with box-wood, and shaded and perfumed with flowering shrubs, extended in various directions in the parterre, fronting the house. The favorite orchard extended along the southerly side of the mansion, while the pasture lands and cultivated fields extended toward the north" (Man. Com. Council, 1865).

On December 31, 1733, Anthony Rutgers was granted the swampland and pond adjoining his property (and the Duke's Farm, on the west), containing in all 70 acres, on condition that the land be drained. After he died on August 5, 1746, his wife Cornelia Amelia Benson, born Roos (1688-1760) carried on the business. After she died, Anthony Rutgers (1711-1776), son of Colonel Anthony Rutgers, became the owner. In 1771, when Reade Street was proposed, it was the boundary between the Rutgers property and the Church Farm.

John Jones was a peruke maker and innkeeper in the City of New York. He had bought the Mason's Arms Tavern from Samuel Fraunces in 1762 and tried to sell it in April and in May, 1765, without success. Jones opened his Ranelagh Gardens in June 6. On June 12, he mortgaged Mason's Arms to Roger Morris. On November 14, the same year, Jones leased Queen's Head Tavern from Samuel Fraunces.

On June 3, 1765, Jones advertised in New-York Mercury the opening of his Ranelagh Gardens for June 6. According to Stokes, his announcement stated that there would be a concert of music every Thursday evening, and afterwards, a small fire-work would be played off. The second performance, which took place on June 13th, 1765, was interrupted by a number of disorderly Persons breaking into the Garden. Later, concerts were given every Monday and Thursday. The gardens were illuminated every night and the "best Entertainment" provided by the proprietor, "notwithstanding the artful Insinuations of some illminded People to the Contrary." (N.Y. Post-Boy, June 17 / September 5, 1765). Admission, at first costing two shillings, was later reduced to one shilling, owing to the "Scarcity of Cash" (N.Y. Journal, August 28, 1766).

Before February, 1769, Ranelagh was in financial troubles. On February 2, Anthony Rutgers, son of Col. Anthony Rutgers, announced in the N.Y. Mercury: "To be Lett, The House, and about 18 Acres of Land, belonging to Mr. Anthony Rutgers, known by the name Ranelagh Gardens. A very good new House will be built this Spring fit for any Gentleman". By March 1769, the property was split and auctioned.

Samuel Francis had become the new proprietor of Ranelagh Gardens by June 8, 1769, when he opened the Gardens, which he had "newly fitted up in a very genteel, pleasing Manner" (N.Y. Mercury). According to Stokes, it appears that Ranelagh was no longer a commercial pleasure garden after Fraunces, although it was still known as Ranelagh for many years later.

Part of Rutgers property was purchased to house the New York Hospital. The ground had a frontage of 440 feet on the west side of Broadway, between the present Duane and Worth streets, and extended 340 ft. west to Church St. The necessity of this hospital, for the reception of the poor sick, was referred at the annual commencement of King's College, held in Trinity Church, on May 16, 1769, by Dr. Samuel Bard, professor of medicine. The Society of the Hospital in the City of New York was formed in 1771. The first regular meeting of the Governors of the Society was held on July 24, at Fraunces Tavern. The cornerstone of the hospital, a "charitable Asylum of the Distressed", was laid in September, 1773, at what is now Thomas Street, but the structure erected was destroyed by fire on February 28, 1775. The structure was reconstructed and the hospital opened in 1790.

Before the spring of 1772, a Mr. Vassel was in possession of the house, garden, and orchard of Anthony Rutgers, which were again offered for rent (N.Y. Mercury, January 13, 1772).

The British took control of the City from September, 1776, to November, 1783, during the Revolutionary War.

John Ireland purchased the property on November 2, 1790. On March 5, 1794, he advertised in the Daily Adv. to let: "That beautiful garden, near the Hospital, called the Ranelagh”. In the garden are apple, pear, peach, plum, and cherry as well as nut trees, berries of all kinds, flowering shrubs, asparagus, etc. There is a “very elegant green house,” as well as a “ tolerable good dwelling house adjoining the garden.” Applications are to be made to Ireland, on the premise. The premises were sold at public auction on November 14. On March 20, 1795, the trustees of creditors of John Ireland conveyed the house and the land  to Effingham Embree.




Ranelagh Gardens and Vauxhall represented in the Plan of the City of New-York, surveyed in the winter of 1775 by John Montrésor (with additional text).


Widow Rutgers


Lake 19th century NY


Bowling Green Garden


New York Hospital


The old New York Hospital seen from Broadway, as represented in a panoramic view published in the Gleason's Pictorial, in 1854.


NYC parks


New York 18th century


The Ranelagh Gardens represented in the Plan of the City of New York, surveyed in 1767 by Bernard Ratzer, engraved by Thomas Kitchin and published in 1776 (with additional text).


The Rutger's property indicated in a fragment of the Plan of the North East Environs of the City of New York, 1757, by Samuel Holland. The Widow Rutger’s refers to Cornelia, Colonel Anthony Rutgers's wife.


Copyright © Geographic Guide - NYC in the 18th Century.


Old Farms

With the location of Anthony Rutgers's Farm.


Old City New York


Vauxhall Garden


By Jonildo Bacelar, Geographic Guide editor, May 2023.


 Ranelagh Gardens, New York