Three ways of looking at Varick Street

Varick Street between West Houston and Clarkson Streets comes across as a sleepy little stretch of the city in this 1921 photo.

A row of early 19th century Federal-style houses cover the entire west side of the block. And a corner cigar store and carpenter/cabinet maker are the only businesses—aside from the horse-drawn ice cream delivery wagon.

Notice the horsecar tracks? “[They're] those of the Sixth Avenue Ferry line, which ran from the Desbrosses Street Ferry via Varick and Carmine Streets to Sixth Avenue,” states the wonderful New York Then and Now, which published the photo.

“On the extreme left is the entrance to the IRT Broadway-Seventh Avenue line subway, opened beneath Varick Street on July 1, 1918.”

The street didn’t look like this for much longer. In 1924 the 10 houses were demolished, a 12-story light-industry loft structure put in its place, as seen in the 1974 photo above, also from New York Then and Now.

The loft building casts a dark shadow over the block to this day (at right). It’s part of the no man’s land south of the West Village but a little too West for Soho that I believe is called Hudson Square.

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7 Responses to “Three ways of looking at Varick Street”

  1. Carl W. Says:

    “It’s part of the no man’s land south of the West Village but a little too West for Soho that I believe is called Hudson Square.”

    Trinity Real Estate, in a marketing attempt about twenty years ago, began branding the area south of Houston and west of SoHo proper as “Hudson Square”. The problem is that is a contrived real-estate name. You see, the original Hudson Square was actually in present-day TriBeCa, where the Holland Tunnel exits are currently.

    Most residents, reluctant to get on the real-estate band wagon, simply call the area west SoHo.

    The area in this photo, north of Houston, is generally referred to as the South Village by us locals.

  2. nycedges Says:

    Always like these before & after shots (and love the giant scans!) When I was a kid the NYDaily New Sunday magazine insert always featured a photo from their archive and sent out a staff photographer to shoot the same scene — haven’t looked at it in years, anyone know if they still do this?

  3. wildnewyork Says:

    I haven’t read the Sunday Daily News in ages but if they brought this feature back using photos from their archive, I would!

    • T.J. Connick Says:

      “New York’s Changing Scene”!

      A feature of the weekly Coloroto section of the Sunday News, “New York’s Picture Newspaper”. Don’t forget the funnies: Dick Tracy, Little Orphan Annie, Terry and the Pirates, Moon Mullins, Dondi…

      As improbable as it seems today, in vast stretches of the city, the Daily News was simply “the paper”, and it wasn’t uncommon to have blocks where every second or third household had it delivered.

  4. nycedges Says:

    thanks for the info guys & I agree, I’d buy the paper just to see that!

  5. HTTrainer Says:

    Ah, Varick St. for many years a nexus for the print inustry. W. Houston on the northern end it merged into 7th Ave S, the extension of 7th Ave.
    I haven’t been back for 20 years.

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