Posts Tagged ‘Little Spain’

Who is the man with the pen on 14th Street?

January 29, 2018

I’ve been curious about him since the 1990s—this sturdy man clad in a loose-fitting shirt sitting in a chair while holding what looks like a pen to a piece of paper.

His image is carved above the doorway of the five-story walkup residence at 210 West 14th Street.

Who is he? A writer I imagine, or an illustrator, or some other kind of artist.

Whatever he’s doing, he seems reflective and serious, engrossed in his work.

Did an artist or writer live and work here? A search of possibilities turns up something interesting.

From 1942 until his death in 1968, French-born painter, sculptor, and Dada pioneer Marcel Duchamp had a studio in this building on the top floor.

(In fact, “Duchamp” is still written on the buzzer outside the front door, a nice turn Duchamp would probably get a kick out of).

It’s one of many places Duchamp lived in the city after he first arrived in 1915. “It was here that, using found objects from his walks around the neighborhood, Duchamp secretly constructed ‘Etant Donnes,’ when the public had thought he’d given up art,” states

Is the man with the pen Duchamp? It seems unlikely, based on what Duchamp actually looked like.

The ground-floor commercial space doesn’t hold any clues. Various tenants leased the space over the years, most notably a Spanish food store called Casa Moneo from 1929 to 1988.

Casa Moneo was one of the last holdouts from when West 14th Street was the center of Manhattan’s “Little Spain” enclave.

The identity of the man and his significance at this address remains a mystery.

When West 14th Street was “Little Spain”

April 28, 2010

Today, 14th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues is a mix of delis, small shops, and restaurants . . . as well as insane crowds spilling over from the Meatpacking District.

But in the 20th century it was a tiny neighborhood of Spanish immigrants, with a “Little Spain” merchants group and festival featuring flamenco dancers and mechanical bullfighting.

A few remnants of that neighborhood remain. One is Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, built in 1902 inside two 1840s brownstones. (1930 photo, from the NYPL, right)

It’s no longer open for regular church services, but the lovely Spanish baroque facade still makes an impression.

Our Lady of Guadalupe today, with its beautiful balcony and detailing:

The still-active, 142-year-old Spanish Benevolent Society, closer to Eighth Avenue, also remains. They run a decent tapas restaurant on the ground floor of a brownstone.