The origins of the name Stonegate are unclear, it could either have been because the street was paved with stone, or because it was the street which was used to carry stone along to build York Minster. Since then it has been known as a street linked to the book trade, both book-shops and printers. The street was also where the limestone head of the Statue of Constantine I was found, which is visible today in The Yorkshire Museum.

Ye Old Starre Inn, one of York’s best known old pubs, used to be open to Stonegate but a shop was then built in front of it, and as part of the agreement a sign was placed across the road to advertise where the pub is located. There used to be a brewhouse in the courtyard of Starre Yard, where there was also a well which supplied water to the locals.

In 1851 Ebenezer Chapel was built in Little Stonegate, which remained opened until 1900 when the chapel moved to Monkgate, which is now part of a large book-shop which opens onto Davygate.

In 1830 the City Commissioners improved the entrance into Stonegate from Petergate, and on the 19th January 1971 Stonegate became a foot-street, a fore-runner of pedestrianisation. Mrs Barbara Hutton sat down in the middle of the road to eat a meal of steak and chips to mark the event.