Posts Tagged ‘growing up in Greenwich Village’

A hidden Village memorial to a 1930s sports hero

May 26, 2016

HankgreenberghomeOn the slender stretch of Barrow Street just west of Sheridan Square is a typical old-school city tenement.

Blending in discreetly on the outside of 16 Barrow Street is a weathered plaque honoring an early occupant: baseball all-star Hyman “Hank” Greenberg (below in 1933).

The Hebrew Hammer, as one of his nicknames went, lived there for a year after his birth in 1911, after which his family moved to a tenement on Perry Street.

Greenberg never played for a New York team; he spent his long career through the 1930s and 1940s slugging it out for the Detroit Tigers.

Hankgreenberg1933He made a name for himself not just as an excellent ballplayer but as the first Jewish superstar (his parents were Romanian-born Orthodox Jews).

In his memoir, The Story of My Life, he recalls the Village back in the 1910s.

“Baseball didn’t exist in Greenwich Village,” he wrote. “The neighborhood kids played one-o-cat, or stickball, or some other game that could be played on a city street.

“There was no place to play baseball, and nobody thought about the game, or missed it. Kids down in the Village thought the national pastime was beating up kids of other nationalities.”


The Greenbergs decided the neighborhood was too rough and relocated to the Bronx. At Monroe High School, Hank began playing the game that earned him fame and fortune.

Christmas at a Village settlement house

December 18, 2009

That’s quite a festive Christmas tree these Greenwich Village kids are posing in front of. They’re celebrating the holiday at the Greenwich Settlement House, which still stands on Barrow Street today. 

The photo, from the New York Public Library, is undated. Looks like it’s from the early 1900s, when settlement houses popped up in lots of poor New York neighborhoods.

They were funded by wealthy residents to help “settle” new immigrants by providing health care, job training, and art classes.

They taught their little charges well. A New York Times article from December 1914 reports that the kids from the Greenwich Settlement House would be singing carols in hospitals on Christmas Day:

“In addition, the children are rehearsing a play to be produced at the settlement house on Tuesday,” the article states. “After the play, each little girl and boy will receive a big bag of candy and an orange. Many of the children have decided to give their candy to the sick folk for whom they are to sing.”