Posts Tagged ‘Greenwich Village street’

Where in the city is this row of brick buildings?

January 9, 2013

When Washington Square North resident Edward Hopper finished this strangely haunting painting of simple low-rise buildings in 1930, it was recorded in his ledger as “Seventh Avenue Shops.”

Hopperearlysundaymorning

But could this really be on Seventh Avenue? Not according to a 2007 report from the Greenwich Village Historical Society, which explains that the distinctive cornices, barber shop pole, fire hydrant, and morning shadows place the inspiration not on Seventh Avenue but at 231-235 Bleecker Street, just west of Carmine Street.

BleeckerstreetnymagazineAdding to the mystery is that Hopper later changed the name of the painting to “Early Sunday Morning,” which it’s still known by today.

[Photo comparison published in New York magazine, courtesy of the Whitney Museum of Art, John Carbonella]

Many of Hopper’s other works—deceptively simple, solitary, often people-free city corners and streets—have been traced to specific locations that still stand.

Maybe Hopper did draw his inspiration from this slice of Bleecker Street, or perhaps it’s a composite of details from several buildings.

Jeremiah at Vanishing New York has an intriguing take on the “Early Sunday Morning,” as well as a fascinating look at where Hopper’s “Nighthawks” might have been.

A vintage subway sign hangs on in the Village

January 4, 2013

It’s been more than a year since this old-school sign was uncovered after the removal of a newsstand in front of a subway entrance at Sixth Avenue and West Fourth Street (Gothamist scored the details in September 2011.)

Eighthavenuesubwaysign

Amazingly, the MTA hasn’t yet covered the slightly tattered but very charming sign. Could it be here to stay—a ghost from New York’s transit past reminding riders that the A, C, and E used to be part of the Independent Subway System, opened in 1932?

The IND ran as a separate network from the privately owned IRT and BMT lines for eight years, until all three lines merged into one enormous city-run system in 1940.

The most iconic faded ad in Greenwich Village

September 17, 2012

I have no idea when this advertisement for Bigelow’s Pharmacy first went up on the side of the Sixth Avenue store’s building at Ninth Street.

But I’m glad that it’s still in pretty good shape. Bigelow’s has been in business since Martin Van Buren was president, and its famous customer list includes Thomas Edison, Mark Twain, and Eleanor Roosevelt.

“The business of C. O. Bigelow, Inc., retail drug prescriptions, is one of the oldest of its kind in the world. Its activity extends all over the world and includes the filling of orders from such distant places as India and Africa,” a New York Times real estate article explained in 1937.

The soda fountain is gone, but the cool old store sign is still out front. Inside are original wooden cabinets and old-timey chandeliers with gas jets.

The 1940s folkie commune on West 10th Street

August 2, 2012

After traveling around the country in the 1930s making a name for himself as folk singer, Woody Guthrie arrived in New York City in 1941.

Here, he hooked up with fellow folkies, among them Pete Seeger, Bess Lomax, and Lee Hays.

Under the name the Almanac Singers, they and a rotating lineup of band members had kind of a loose collective going at this slender brownstone at 130 West 10th Street.

“Calling their house ‘Almanac House,’ the group of musicians earned their rent money by offering informal concerts in the basement of the building, charging their audience thirty-five cents per person,” states Exploring the Original West Village, by Alfred Pommer and Eleanor Winters.

In the forward of a book called Radical Walking Tours of New York, Pete Seeger says this about the communal home in the pre-World War II city:

“We lived at 130 West 10th Street off Greenwich Avenue in the fall and the first hootenanny in New York was held in the basement.”

At $100 a month, the rent was high, so they moved to cheaper digs on Sixth Avenue.

The Village wasn’t Guthrie’s only city neighborhood. Later in the 1940s he moved his family to a house on Mermaid Avenue in Coney Island.

In 1952 he was diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease at Brooklyn State Hospital, now Kingsboro Psychiatric Center.

[Top: Guthrie performing in a 1943 Life photo]

The “horse walks” hiding in Greenwich Village

January 24, 2012

Anyone who has strolled down a Greenwich Village side street has probably seen a horse walk door—an unadorned, mysterious entrance without a stoop that opens to the sidewalk.

The horse walk door is the brown one to the left at this house at 7 Leroy Street, a Federal-style beauty built in 1831.

Behind this door is the horse walk, a narrow passageway through which a homeowner’s horse was led from the street to a separate carriage house or stable behind the main house.

Of course, it’s been a good century or so since anyone has used a horse walk for their own equine. Those back carriage houses are now sought-after private residences.

Here’s a listing for the carriage house behind 7 Leroy Street—yours for $16,000 a month.

This horse walk door to the right of the main entrance is part of another lovely Federal-style house built in 1819 at 83 Sullivan Street near Spring Street.

You can just imagine a horse being led to and from the door every day to what was probably a very muddy street, so his owner can use him as transportation to get around the growing city.

The “chopped out” city from Greenwich Village

October 19, 2011

John Sloan depicts a moody Village set apart from the rest of the city in his 1922 painting “The City From Greenwich Village.”

In his notes, he had this to say about the setting, the light, and “chopped out” modern New York:

“Looking south over lower Sixth Avenue from the roof of my Washington Place studio, on a winter evening. The distant lights of the great office buildings downtown are seen in the gathering darkness. The triangular loft building on the right had contained my studio for three years before.

“Although painted from memory it seems thoroughly convincing in its handling of light and space. The spot on which the spectator stands is now an imaginary point since all the buildings as far as the turn of the elevated have been removed, and Sixth Avenue has been extended straight down to the business district.

“The picture makes a record of the beauty of the older city which is giving way to the chopped-out towers of the modern New York. Pencil sketch provided details.”


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