Dark Lantern Tales novels are generally from the 1870s to the 1890s, and some of them refer to undeveloped land to the North of New York City proper. In the years around the 1880s, it seems that between NYC and Harlem was farm land evolving to development, shanty towns, etc. Author Albert Aiken mentions these areas in several novels, and persons more knowledgeable than I are welcome to send me corrections for my remarks. Anyway, this bit from the excellent Ephemeral New York offers the history and eventual end for a simple alley in the East Village area, named for the farmer who owned the land in colonial times.
Read the Ephemeral New York article here: