When NYC’s Last Surviving Horse Auction Mart, and Frank Stella’s Former Studio, Were Almost Demolished

Did you know that 128 East 13th Street is believed to be the last surviving horse and carriage auction mart building in New York City? It was threatened with demolition until GVSHP got the Landmark Preservation Commission to hold an emergency hearing on landmarking the building on September 7, 2006, which started the long path toward designation of the building as an official New York City Landmark.

c. 1910 (courtesy Museum of the City of New York)

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A Tradition of Progressive Education

Our neighborhood is rife with educational institutions and schools which have blazed trails and tread new ground.  Today we will look at two schools which have benefited the younger members of our neighborhood for a century, and continue to this day their original missions of progressive education.

The City and Country School and the Little Red School House

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Many Layers of History at 9th Street and 5th Avenue

This post is part of a series about Village intersections that correspond to the date.

September is here and a new month means a new corresponding Village intersection!  Ninth Street and Fifth Avenue is now the site of several large apartment buildings, but did you know it was once the location of the famous Brevoort Mansion, as well as a one-time home of Mark Twain? In honor of today’s date, we are taking a look at these two gone-but-not-forgotten buildings. Read the rest of this entry »

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New York Biscuit Stables

In the early 2000’s GVSHP conducted research that led to the designation of the Gansevoort Market Historic District. That research included photo surveys of the area. We recently added one such photo survey to GVSHP’s Historic Image Archive covering the northern area of the district above 14th street including the Chelsea Market, the old Nabisco factory, and the High Line before transformation. As part of this survey, we photographed what would become the most northwest building included in the historic district, the New York Biscuit Stables at 445 West 14th Street.

445 West 14th Street, March 2002. From the GVSHP Historic Image Archive

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Many Layers of History, and Beyond the Village and Back: Penn Station

Today is a rare day on Off the Grid as we are able to combine two of our ongoing series: Many Layers of History and Beyond the Village and Back.

Architect Philip Johnson and Aline Saarinen march in protest of the impending demolition of Penn Station.

Architect Philip Johnson and Aline Saarinen march in protest of the impending demolition of Penn Station.

Unlike some of our other ‘Many Layers of History’ dates, August 31st or 8/31 does not correspond with any Village intersection.  But it does correspond with a long-lost landmark that is near and dear to our hearts, and the history of historic preservation.  8th Avenue and 31st Street was the location of the original Penn Station.  While the current Penn Station, located below Madison Square Garden, is considered by commuters, visitors, and New Yorkers alike to be a blight upon the city, the old Penn Station was seen as one of the city’s most beautiful monuments, and its loss among the most tragic to the beauty and character of the city.  The loss of Penn Station was considered a watershed moment for preservationists and all New Yorkers.

So in honor of today’s date, we have rounded up our past posts that discuss the station and its impact on NYC Preservation, as well as some images from our historic image archive, and then we bring it all back to the Village:

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A Times Square Art Excursion with Carole Teller

There are limitless things to discover among the astounding collections of photographs by Carole Teller in GVSHP’s Historic Image Archive. A resident of the East Village for over 50 years, Carole so beautifully and thoroughly documented her neighborhood’s architecture, daily life, and many quirks, we have had to dole it out in multiple parts (see Part I, Part II, Part III, and Carole’s collection of photos of the Godfather Part II being filmed on the streets of the East Village).

Jenny Holzer’s “Truisms” found on Times Square theater marquees in 1995, from GVSHP’s Carole Teller’s Changing New York Collection, Part IV archive.gvshp.org

But in our recently-added Part IV of her collection, we see that Carole also ventured north of her home, with about twenty fascinating images of Times Square in the 1990s (scroll down to the bottom of the collection to see where the Times Square images begin, or click here and scroll by clicking on “previous item” after viewing each image), many date-stamped August 31, 1995.  Much like her photographs of Lower Manhattan, these photos of the West 40s offer a look back at what has remained somewhat the same in this neighborhood, and what has changed dramatically.

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Woman Crush Wednesday: Dorothy Day

Dorothy Day in 1916

“We need to change the system. We need to overthrow, not the government, as the authorities are always accusing the Communists [of conspiring to do], but this rotten, decadent, putrid industrial capitalist system which breeds such suffering in the whited sepulcher of New York.”

Such are the words of the “radical Christian,” Dorothy Day, who is the subject of this week’s “Woman Crush Wednesday” post.  Her words seem like they could have been uttered by some earnest radical today, rather than a hundred years ago.

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Street Grid Changes Revealed in New Tool

The Department of City Planning (DCP) recently launched an online tool that has compiled more than 8,000 historic maps of New York City and laid it on the current street grid. The fun and interesting tool is called NYC Street Map, and it allows you to see alterations made to the City Map since 1938.

The brown and tan areas show where historic maps exist, and that the current streetscape was different, sometimes not too long ago.  Hover over and then click on the brown area you are interested in, and one or more options pop up.  Some areas have had multiple changes over the years.

Such changes include de-mapped, changed or new streets, creating space for parks or further development.  And some streets displayed were mapped, but never built.

Looking in Greenwich Village to start, you can see how until 1962, Fifth Avenue ran right through Washington Square Park!

An Avenue (5th) used to run through it! Source: https://nycdcp-dcm-alteration-maps.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/cp15054.pdf

Until the 1980’s the beautiful Sheridan Square Viewing Garden did not exist.  See the map approved by the Board of Estimate as recently as 1988.

Source: https://nycdcp-dcm-alteration-maps.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/860004mmm.pdf

And you can see where a park was laid out at  Bleecker Street between West 11th Street and Bank Street according to a 1959 map.

Source: https://nycdcp-dcm-alteration-maps.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/cp15414.pdf

The elimination of Wooster and Greene Streets from West Houston to West Fourth Streets to make way for the Washington Square Southeast Area (now Washington Square Village and Silver Towers) is shown on a 1956 map.

Source:
https://nycdcp-dcm-alteration-maps.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/cp12574.pdf

In the East Village, the parkland created for what is today’s larger Children’s Garden on East 12th Street near Avenue B is revealed on a 1964 map.

Source: https://nycdcp-dcm-alteration-maps.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/cp18365.pdf

You can explore all the changes for the entire city at Street Map: The Status & History of New York City’s Streets. While this is a fun and revelatory tool, it would be even cooler if they could go back as far as the Commissioners’ Plan of 1811, better known as the original Manhattan Street Grid, and show all the changes since then.

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Historic Photo Mysteries Solved

Last week we put out a call for help to solve mysteries regarding the locations of some images from our Historic Image Archive‘s most recent addition, Carole Teller’s Changing New York, Part 4. Some were solved this week by readers, and some by staff. Some still remain unsolved… if you think you know the location of any of our “unidentified” or “unknown” photos, please email us at info@gvshp.org.  Here’s how we solved (and partially solved) the mystery behind the locations of the following two images.

Solved:

244 to 252 Water Street, west side, just south of Peck Slip (since demolished)

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St. John’s vs. the Tech Hub — Promises Kept, and Promises Broken

On August 24, 2016, the New York City Planning Commission held a hearing to consider a zoning change and transfer of air rights for the development of the three-block long St. John’s Terminal site at West and Houston Streets. GVSHP testified along with political officials, neighbors and other organizations at the hearing demanding a series of neighborhood protections and mitigations as part of the deal, including an agreement with the City for landmarking, restrictions on the transfer of Hudson River Park air rights, and an elimination of all planned big box and destination retail stores from the proposed development. Through the efforts of our Councilmember Corey Johnson (now City Council Speaker), we were able to secure those measures, some of which had been opposed by Mayors for over a decade, and these provided inoculation against future over-development possibilities that would pay dividends for decades to come.

However, recently south of Union Square in the Central and East Village, such protections were not secured as promised by the local Councilmember as part of the recently-approved Tech Hub rezoning on East 14th Street. Here are how those two stories stack up.

Developments Planned or Underway in the area south of Union Square: (top, l. to r.) 285 ft. tall tower at 110 University Pl. (former Bowlmor site); one iteration of possible commercial office building at 799 B’way (St. Denis) – could be 300+ ft. tall; (bottom, l. to r.) 232 ft. tall office/residential tower at 809 B’way (11th/12th); 313 rm. Moxy Hotel, 112 E. 11th St. (3rd/4th Ave. – under construction); 300 ft. tall office tower at 827-831 B’way (now blocked due to landmarking).

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