A question from a reader, asked in a comment, inspired this post--a footnote really to "News of the Neighborhood." The reader asked if the Second Street stairs were public or private, and the answer is that they are public, on city-owned property, and maintained by the Department of Public Works. What's most interesting about the stairs is how long they have been there, providing a foot path from Allen Street to Cross Street and Tanners Lane.
The stairs can be seen in the foreground of this engraving of 59 Allen Street. (This is the east facade of the house; Allen Street is to the right.) The house was probably built in the 1840s. When this engraving was done, the house belonged to Charles Alger, who purchased it in 1858 and called it "The Hermitage." The houses to the east of the stairs did not yet exist. They were built in the last quarter of the 19th century.