Posts Tagged ‘751/2 Bedford Street’

A Village poet and the hospital she’s named for

July 17, 2014

Ednastvincentmillay1Edna St. Vincent Millay is an emblem of 1920s Greenwich Village.

Bohemian, free-love advocate, and a writer of passionate, sometimes cynical lyrical poetry, Millay lived in various places in the Village beginning in 1917, most famously at 75 1/2 Bedford Street.

Considering how connected she is to the Village, it’s still surprising to learn that Millay, born and raised in Maine, was actually named after another Greenwich Village icon: St. Vincent’s Hospital.

Giving her the middle name St. Vincent was a way to honor the hospital that saved her uncle’s life just before Millay was born in 1892.

EdnastvincentmillayarchWorking as a stevedore on a ship, he became trapped below deck for days without food or water.

When he was found, he was brought to St. Vincent’s and nursed back to health.

Shortly after Millay was born, her aunt wrote this in a letter to her uncle, “the Vincent is for St. Vincent’s Hospital, the one that cared so well for our darling brother,”  according to Nancy Milford’s wonderful biography of Millay, Savage Beauty.

Millay referenced the city around her in her poems: riding the Staten Island ferry, the “fruit-carts and clam-carts” of MacDougal Street. She died in her upstate home in 1950.

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Founded in 1849 and closed abruptly in 2010, St. Vincent’s (above, in 1931) was bulldozed out of its longtime location at Seventh Avenue and 11th Street over the past year.

The narrowest house in Greenwich Village

January 13, 2009

Measuring only nine and a half feet wide, this circa-1873 stepped-gable home at 751/2 Bedford Street was at various times a carriage house, a cobbler’s shop, and part of a candy factory.

According to a 1993 New York Times article, the house sold for “less than $300,000” that year. 

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In 1923, poet Edna St. Vincent Millay lived there; she’s pictured below with her husband and a friend outside the house. The windows look the same (with a protective black fence added), but the wood-frame home on the left has been replaced. Bedford Street in the 1920s sure looks a little like a hick country road.

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