Map It! A Day in the Life of 121 Charles Street
Much has been said lately about the potential sale of 121 Charles Street in the Greenwich Village Historic District. This summer, members of the Glass family (owners of the house for nearly a century when it was located on York Avenue) contacted us about their concern for the house’s future. They also sent us some information on the house.
As I was going through the information, I came across “Farmhouse Trundles Downtown,” a Daily News article by Joe Cassidy from March 6, 1967. The article describes the farmhouse’s journey from 1335 York Avenue (between 71st and 72nd Streets) in Yorkville to 121 Charles Street in the Village. A very different Village to the one today as it turns out, though one many of our readers can recall.
For the latest in our Map It! series, I thought it would be fun to recreate the farmhouse’s journey using Mr. Cassidy’s often colorful descriptions of that Sunday, March 5, 1967. And, now, onto the map!
**Please note that the following text was taken almost directly from the Daily News article in order to preserve Mr. Cassidy’s storytelling. I made slight changes to fit the format of this post.**
A. 8:45 A.M., 1335 York Avenue, Tony Nicholas, barrel-chested foreman of 12-man moving crew, gives go-ahead sign to begin three-mile-an-hour trek on huge, rubber-wheeled dolly.
B. Down York Avenue and under the Queensboro Bridge, with a maximum of hand signals, shouts, and whistles, Nicholas leaps off and on and off the towing truck, signalling the police car escorting the house.
C. West on 57th Street, past rows of fancy apartment houses, gawking dowagers, and open-mouthed doormen.
D. South on Second Avenue, along blocks lined on either side with shuttered antique shops, bars and delicatessens. Residents look down from the upper floors, their traditional pillow propped under flesh-heavy arms.
“Hey! Look, will ya? Lookit the house!” say astonished East side youngsters as they peer up Second Avenue to see one of the strangest sights ever viewed from the sidewalks of New York.
E. Further south into midtown, past giant office buildings and through neighborhoods inhabited by people with children who stare in wonder at the sight of the old house on wheels.
F. Corner of 29th Street and Second Avenue, where white-aproned Joe Pizzurro comes out of his grocery store, a salami still clenched in his hand, and wonders out loud, “Will the chimney stay on the roof?”
G. West on 14th Street, gliding by the burlesque theatre and all those odds-and-ends stores where every day is a bargain day.
H. South on Washington Street, the deserted wholesale meat center.
I. Past the stables on Charles Lane, where Barney Morovitz, his five Shetland ponies, and Maggie, his angora goat, watch together from the corral.
J. East on West 10th Street, north on Hudson Street, and west on Charles Street, where after three “careful, careful” turns later, the house reaches 121 Charles Street, a pie-shaped lot against a huge warehouse.
The streets in this last one is speculation on my part, as he didn’t mention the names, but it seems like a logical route to its end destination. If anyone was there that day and can tell us if we’re correct, please leave us a comment. [Updated: The streets in letter J were corrected based on information from Ingrid Bernhard. The house traveled along West 10th, Hudson, and Charles Streets.]
Did you witness this moving house first-hand along any part of its epic journey downtown? I bet that was something else!
Learn more about 121 Charles Street in this past Off the Grid post.