Everything you need to know about the Greenwich Village of 1961 in one map

“Geographically speaking, the Village is only a small part of New York City,” so states the copy on the side of this remarkable map of the Greenwich Village of 1961 (click the map to enlarge it), which details the restaurants, bars, cafes, apartment buildings, and other notable spots from Washington Street all the way to Cooper Square.

“Map of the Greenwich Village section of New York City,” by Lawrence Fahey, cartographer

This extraordinary illustrated map, drawn and published by cartographer Lawrence Fahey, seems to be aimed at visitors.

“What is it about the Village that provokes such widespread interest? It stems primarily from the fact that the Village has long been a focus of youthful rebellion and Bohemian life and as such has been the cradle of many innovations in American art, drama, literature, and poetry, the current example of which is ‘Beat’ or ‘Hip’ writing,” the copy reads.

The text on the map reflects its era, containing comments about the relaxed vibe of Village blocks and parks, the shopping options, and why certain adjacent streets were excluded.

“While making the field survey for this map, it was found that the Hudson River waterfront with its wharfs and warehouses lacks the charm of the ‘Old Village’ and the rest of Bohemia,” per the text. “The same is true of the area south of Prince Street where depressing loft buildings and dark streets would hardly appeal to any visitor.”

Ha! By 1971, the warehouses of the far West Village would undergo conversion to housing, the “depressing” streets south of Prince would be rebranded Soho, and the area east of Cooper Square would transform into the East Village.

It’s a fascinating visual trip back to the Village of the early 1960s. West 14th Street was once Little Spain (second image); today, none of these restaurants or shops remain.

The Village Nursing Home (third image) is still a nursing home, not a luxury residence. The Women’s House of Detention boxes in Jefferson Market Courthouse, which hasn’t been repurposed as an NYPL library branch yet.

St. Veronica’s Church on Christopher Street has a school. The Sixth Precinct is still at the end of Charles Street, not in the circa-1970s new precinct house between Perry and Charles Streets. There’s a fair number of gas stations and lots of antique shops. NYU isn’t everywhere.

A surprising number of spots from the Village of 60 years ago are still with us: Caffe Reggio, Julius, Seville, Gene’s, plus Rocco’s and Faicco’s on Bleecker Street. The Waverly still plays movies, but it’s the last Village movie theater left.

[Map: NYPL Digital Collections]

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13 Responses to “Everything you need to know about the Greenwich Village of 1961 in one map”

  1. Mykola Mick Dementiuk Says:

    Fascinating map! I recall many shops in the 1960s, in particular low priced Marboro Books on 8th St was a favorite meeting pick-up site, I’d always meet someone pretending to look for a book….

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      Thanks Mick! Bookstores were always great pick up spots, and record stores. Too bad so few are left with us.

      • jms Says:

        No kidding! The map lists 28 bookstores in the Village alone; I hesitate to imagine what the count is today. (Odd that the Strand isn’t mentioned, or for that matter the Phoenix Book Shop, which I thought was around in 1961 even if not yet owned by Robert A. Wilson.) Bookstores seem among the most ephemeral of institutions in NYC these days. I’ve compiled a list — hardly comprehensive — of some 145 that have vanished, the majority in the four decades I’ve lived here. A very sad list!

        Books & magazines are about the only things I ever picked up at bookstores, but that was good enough.

  2. courtship1 Says:

    Would love to be able to purchase this map of the Village

  3. DIRNDL SKIRT Says:

    This is wonderful! Tony Pastor’s is there, a place I’d heard of but rarely gets mentioned in blogs about the downtown music/bar and cafe scene. (I notice they spelled Bleecker wrong.)

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      I didn’t see the spelling error, but it’s okay with me—the map itself is a work of art. I love your screen name!

  4. countrypaul Says:

    I’d just come down from high school in New Rochelle and then college in New England and wander around to soak up the vibe in the ’60s. Great vibes back then – almost affordable stuff to do!

  5. Everything you need to know about the Greenwich Village of 1961 in one map | 1960s: Days of Rage Says:

    […] “‘Geographically speaking, the Village is only a small part of New York City,’ so states the copy on the side of this remarkable map of the Greenwich Village of 1961 (click the map to enlarge it), which details the restaurants, bars, cafes, apartment buildings, and other notable spots from Washington Street all the way to Cooper Square. This extraordinary illustrated map, drawn and published by cartographer Lawrence Fahey, seems to be aimed at visitors. ‘What is it about the Village that provokes such widespread interest? It stems primarily from the fact that the Village has long been a focus of youthful rebellion and Bohemian life and as such has been the cradle of many innovations in American art, drama, literature, and poetry, the current example of which is ‘Beat’ or ‘Hip’ writing,’ the copy reads. The text on the map reflects its era, containing comments about the relaxed vibe of Village blocks and parks, the shopping options, and why certain adjacent streets were excluded. … Ha! By 1971, the warehouses of the far West Village would undergo conversion to housing, the ‘depressing’ streets south of Prince would be rebranded Soho, and the area east of Cooper Square would transform into the East Village. It’s a fascinating visual trip back to the Village of the early 1960s. West 14th Street was once Little Spain (second image); today, none of these restaurants or shops remain. The Village Nursing Home (third image) is still a nursing home, not a luxury residence. The Women’s House of Detention boxes in Jefferson Market Courthouse, which hasn’t been repurposed as an NYPL library branch yet. St. Veronica’s Church on Christopher Street has a school. The Sixth Precinct is still at the end of Charles Street, not in the circa-1970s new precinct house between Perry and Charles Streets. There’s a fair number of gas stations and lots of antique shops. NYU isn’t everywhere. A surprising number of spots from the Village of 60 years ago are still with us: Caffe Reggio, Julius, Seville, Gene’s, plus Rocco’s and Faicco’s on Bleecker Street. The Waverly still plays movies, but it’s the last Village movie theater left. [Map: NYPL Digital Collections]” Ephemeral New York […]

  6. Giovanni Punto Says:

    This is a great map and really takes me back. My first trips to the Village were with my parents in the 50s and by the time the map was drawn, I was exploring on my own. The whole beat(nik) thing fascinated me while it was happening and was on public display there.

    It seems that the locations, at least the commercial ones, must have paid to be included. All those book stores, but where is the Strand, which has been at its present location on 12th Street since 1957? I was about to add E.S. Wilentz, but I realize that his name was what I thought of as the name of Eighth Street Bookshop. I see Wilentz on the south side of 8th on the corner of Washington Square W. and I remember it being on the north side and closer to 6th Ave. Maybe it moved at some point or I have it mixed up in my memory with some other bookshop. Another glaring gap is Paperbook Gallery on Sixth, a major beat hangout and meeting place.

    I can’t end without mentioning my absolute favorite place to browse on Eight, Discophile, which was there from the late 50s until 1984. Between the multitude of Village book stores and Discophile, presided over by the unforgettable and irascible Franz, I managed to while away a good deal of my twenties and thirties and filled many shelves with print and recordings.

    I love that you dig up and share these artifacts, though the nostalgia that is provoked is more than a little bittersweet.

  7. Edward Says:

    Is it me, or was the subway system so much easier to navigate when it was just the IRT, BMT and IND? Three lines, three colors, all with local or express stops. No muss, no fuss. Now we have so many letters and numbers I get confused. And bring back the “EE” train!

  8. Joanne Flaster Says:

    Remember walking past the House of Detention and seeing women hanging out of windows yelling to passersby below. Very imposing building…Have many stories of the Village back in the day. It was like no other place. Full of unique one of a kind stores: vintage/antiques/mom and pop. Just great..

  9. Bonnie Slotnick Says:

    Tom Bernardin, ardent Village preservationist and all-around good fellow, has for years made poster-sized prints of this map available through his website. https://www.1961greenwichvillagemap.com/
    A great conversation piece and an object of endless fascination!

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