The 1811 Commissioners’ Plan laid out on paper the regimented grid of streets and avenues that would define Manhattan above 14th Street. Sprawling country estates of the city’s gentry were now, at least on paper, divided into blocks and plots that would sprout rowhouses and commercial buildings. Among them was Chelsea, the family estate of Clement Clarke Moore. By the first years of the 1830's Clarke had given up in his fight against development and in 1834 began selling building lots along West 20th and 21st Street. He was clear that he wanted his property to become an elegant residential neighborhood. Available parcels carried the restriction, "Purchasers of lots...will be required to build fireproof houses of good quality."
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