I recently came across a book printed in 1894 by Thomas A. Janvier entitled In Old New York. The section on Greenwich Village contained a treasure trove of illustrations, some of which could be compared to views of today.
However, before I get to the images, here is how the author described the Village and its street plan:
In the resolute spirit of another Andorra, the village of Greenwich maintains its independence in the very midst of the city of New York – submitting to no more of a compromise in the matter of autonomy than is involved in the Procrustean sort of splicing which has hitched fast the extremities of its tangles streets to the most readily available streets in the City Plan.
Janvier goes onto say:
The flippant carelessness with which this apparent union has been effected only serves to emphasize the actual separation. In almost every case these ill-advised couplings are productive of anomalous disorder, while in the case of the numbered streets they openly travesty the requirements of communal propriety and of common sense: as may be inferred from the fact that within this disjointed region Fourth Street crosses Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth streets very nearly at right angles – to the permanent bewilderment of nations and the perennial confusion of mankind.
Now what Villager wouldn’t take pride in that??!!
Onto the illustrations…
Here is one of Gay Street:
And the same view today:
246-250 West Tenth Street (note the horse walk):
And 246-250 West 10th Street today:
Weehawken street today:
The author finishes the chapter on the Village with this:
Greenwich Village always has been to me the most attractive portion of New York. It has the positive individuality, the age, much of the picturesqueness of that fascinating region…
We couldn’t agree more!