My Favorite Things: Washington Square North

The iconic early 19th century rowhouses that flank the north side of Washington Square Park are in many a passersby’s mind synonymous with the early history of the neighborhood.  Originally, the whole block looked like this.  Developed in 1833 under the auspices of the Trustees of Sailors’ Snug Harbor, the row was built to house wealthy bankers and merchants from a leasehold which in turn supported retired sailors, considered an early and remarkable example of  both city and social planning.

Numbers 19-26 Washington Square North

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Things I’ll Miss About GVSHP: Part 2

Neighborhood Preservation Center

Nearly four centuries ago, Dutch Governor Peter Stuyvesant, whose life has been the stuff of legend on account of his wooden leg and his role in losing New Amsterdam to the English, lived on a farm in the area we now call the Village. Generations later, his great-grandson, Petrus, bequeathed land for the construction of St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery (1799) on Stuyvesant Street. The church is thought to cover the exact plot of land on which the old Governor’s Bouwerie Chapel once stood, making it the oldest site of continuous worship in Manhattan. It’s rectory, constructed in 1901 by the renowned architect Ernest Flagg and transformed in 1999 to the Neighborhood Preservation Center, today houses GVSHP’s offices. It is rumored that on a dark and eerie night, one can hear Governor Stuyvesant tapping his leg in the attic.

I’ll miss a great deal about this building.

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East 9th Street Then and Now

East 9th Street then and now

East 9th Street looking west from 4th Avenue. Left photo via New York Public Library

Yesterday we explored some of the history of elevated train lines in the Village. Today we’re going to take a quick look at another elevated part of our neighborhood’s history. Read the rest of this entry »

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A Sign That Tells More Than Just Street Names

128 Charles Street, at Greenwich Street.

An Off the Grid reader asks:

“Why is there a set of stone markers embedded between the third and fourth floors of the building at 128 Charles Street saying ‘Greenwich Street’ and ‘Charles Street’?  It’s so high up you can barely see it — what good would it have possibly done?”

Good (and timely) question, dear reader.  The answer, believe it or not, relates to a first-of-its-kind technological marvel of the early industrial age, found for more than 70 years right there on Greenwich Street.

A close up of the street markers between the 3rd and 4th floors.

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Just Say No to Illegal Rooftop Additions at 514-516 East 6th Street

‘ Tis the season!

Since we’re in the midst of both the holiday and presidential campaign season we thought it would be appropriate to share a precious moment from holidays and presidents past – former First Lady Nancy Reagan giving a smooch to Mr. T while sitting on his lap at the White house in 1983.

Oh, the eighties…

Pretty ridiculous, right?

No more so than the illegal additions to the tenements at 514-516 East 6th Street, pictured below.

Constructed in 1859 as five story, Pre-Law tenements along with the buildings next to them by William B. Astor, 514-516 East 6th Street were horribly defaced when the owner added rooftop additions to the buildings.

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Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation Day Declared!

GVSHP Day Proclamation

Rose Mendez proclaimed December 2, 2010 to be Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation Day!

City Council Member Rosie Mendez recognized the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation in its thirtieth anniversary year by proclaiming December 2, 2010 as Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation Day in New York City. Looking back, we are still quite honored.

You can read the full citation below. Read the rest of this entry »

Dog Day Anniversary

On December 4th, 1971, John Stanley Wojtowicz married Ernest Aron in Greenwich Village, in what Mr. Wojtowicz described as a Roman Catholic ceremony.

This event might be considered noteworthy for taking place nearly four decades before the legalization of gay marriage in New York, and decades before the now ubiquitous debates about, and demand for, equal marriage rights for same-sex couples.

But this particular Greenwich Village gay wedding is also noteworthy for having precipitated events that led to perhaps the most fabled botched bank robbery in New York City history, immortalized in one of the most acclaimed and iconic American films of the 1970’s.

The wedding of John Wojtowicz and Ernest Aron (later Elizabeth Eden).

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Back to the Butchers

Recently, we told you all about the East Village Meat Market, a traditional Ukrainian butcher shop on 2nd Avenue and 9th Street.  We also told you that this was the last such surviving  butcher shop in the East Village.  Two others that have been lost within the past 5 years are Kurowycky Meat Products, formerly at 124 1st Avenue, between 7th & 8th Streets, and B&M Meat Market, formerly at 111 1st Avenue, between 6th and 7th Streets.  These neighboring shops both closed in 2007, but their history is well worth revisiting.

the former storefront of Kurowycky Meat Products

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Things I’ll Miss About GVSHP: Part 1

As many readers are probably aware, in January I’ll be leaving my position of 3½ years as GVSHP’s Director of Preservation & Research (shameless plug: apply for my job). It’s a bittersweet move for a host of reasons. Suffice it to say, it’s been an absolute dream to spend my days fighting tirelessly for a cause near and dear to my heart (upon seeing a photo of me picketing in front of NYU, my husband once joked, “I can’t believe you get paid to do this.” Neither can I.). But beyond the cause of preservation, there are a number of things I’ll miss dearly about GVSHP. Over the next few weeks I’ll be devoting posts to some of the hardest things to say good-bye to.
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East Village Tenement Housed “the Most Dangerous Woman in America”

The tenement that housed Emma Goldman from 1903-1913

Anarchist and revolutionary thinker Emma Goldman, known for her political activism, writing, and speeches, can claim East 13th as her home in the early twentieth century. Goldman was known for supporting a wide-range of controversial causes, including free speech, birth control, women’s equality, union organization, and workers’ rights. She was considered, by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, one of the most dangerous women in the country. Read the rest of this entry »

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