This article uses material from the The Street article on the Lovecraft wiki at Fandom and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.
Created: February 2017
| Updated: February 2017
Read this story in the library
"The Street" is a short story by American horror fiction writer H. P. Lovecraft, written in late 1919 and first published in the December 1920 issue of the Wolverine amateur journal.
The story traces the history of the eponymous street in a New England city, presumably Boston, from its first beginnings as a path in colonial times to a quasi-supernatural occurrence in the years immediately following World War I.
As the city grows up around the street, it is planted with many trees and built along with "simple, beautiful houses of brick and wood," each with a rose garden. As the Industrial Revolution runs its course, the area degenerates into a run-down, polluted slum, with all of the street's old houses falling into disrepair.
After World War I and the October Revolution, the area becomes home to a community of Russian immigrants; among the new residents are the leadership of a "vast band of terrorists" who are plotting the destruction of the United States on Independence Day.
When the day arrives, the terrorists gather to do the deed, but before they can get started, all the houses in the street collapse concurrently on top of them, killing them all. An observer at the scene testified that immediately after the collapse, he had seen visions of the trees and the rose gardens that had once been in the street.
The Boston Police Strike of September–October 1919 inspired Lovecraft to write "The Street", as he declared in a letter to Frank Belknap Long:
The terrorism was also real, and had been going on since 1914 in a series of parcel bombs. In 1919 two campaigns of mail bombing were discovered. In 1920 there would be a major terrorist bomb attack on Wall Street.
The story's anti-immigrant stance echoes such earlier xenophobic poems by Lovecraft as "New England Fallen" and "On a New-England Village Seen by Moonlight".
The (real and unreal) news of the anarchy occurring during the Russian and German revolutions would, along with the story of Peter the Painter, also indubitably have effected a market for the story.
An H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia describes this story as "manifestly racist". According to Daniel Harms, author of The Encyclopedia Cthulhiana, "If someone came up to me and said, 'Hey Daniel, I think H. P. Lovecraft was a wordy, overly-sentimental bigot whose stories don't make much sense,' this would be the last story I would hand to him to convince him otherwise."