Posts Tagged ‘Sheridan square’

Vintage house numbers of an older Manhattan

March 22, 2012

I love the huge typeface and style variety of the house numbers painted on or carved into city residences and businesses.

Walk down any street in Manhattan, and you’ll likely see a fantastic mix: decorative lettering from the late 19th century, sans serif fonts from the 1920s and 1930s, spelled out numerals that are supposed to be classy.

Like this script above the front entrance to One Sheridan Square, a West Village apartment house built in 1920.

I like this understated plaque, affixed to the Greek Revival-style column fronting a residence on Murray Street near West Broadway. Streeteasy says it was built in 1920, but it looks older.

The No. 9 of this Flatiron address feels very Gilded Age New York. It must have housed a pretty swanky business.

The terracotta Water Street address is truly lovely. Unfortunately, a search through the New York Times archives reveals that in 1894, a night watchman who lived at 251 Water Street, a widower with five children, was murdered at the candy factory where he was employed on Franklin Street.

The killer, an ex-employee, admitted he’d been caught stealing by the watchman. So he murdered him with a double-headed hammer. Just one of the city’s thousands of forgotten tragedies.

The black-caped horseman of West Fourth Street

December 27, 2010

A bank branch, yogurt shop, tanning salon…. The two-story building at 220 West Fourth Street, put up in 1931, is pretty nondescript.

Except for the cool little plaque above the door of a spy store on the first floor.

It depicts a horseman clad in black, rearing his horse and lifting a sword over his head in defense.

So who is he? Must be General Philip Henry Sheridan—namesake of the nearby intersection of Christopher Street and Seventh Avenue.

Sheridan was the Union general who decimated Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley during the Civil War and then prosecuted the wars against the Plains Indians.

A huge hero in the late 19th century, Sheridan probably wouldn’t get a square named after him today.

The tiniest plot of private property in New York

September 11, 2009

Or at least until the 1930s, anyway. At the corner of Christopher Street and Seventh Avenue South in the West Village, in front of the iconic Village Cigars store, lies this blink-and-you’ll-miss-it mosaic embedded in the sidewalk.

HessestateplaqueIts tough-talking message: “Property of the Hess Estate Which Has Never Been Dedicated For Public Purposes.”

What’s the backstory? In the 1910s, when the city was expanding the IRT subway line, officials tore down a nearby apartment building owned by the estate of a New Yorker named David Hess.

A small triangle of land was left over, and officials wanted the Hess family to donate it so the city could extend the sidewalk.

Nothing doing. The Hess Estate fought it out in court, won the right to preserve their little plot, and embedded the tile plaque as kind of a victory symbol. In 1938, however, they sold it to the Village Cigar owners.

Elephants all over apartment buildings

August 13, 2009

Birds, horses, cows, goats—all kinds of animals decorate the facades of city residences. But elephant reliefs and statues? They’re not such a common site.

These two bronze elephants are tucked away at street level on a high-rise of Sheridan Square near Christopher Street:


The small apartment building at Nine East 10th Street, home to writer Dawn Powell in the 1930s and 1940s, features pachyderms on its beautifully carved nameplate:


On a different note, a couple of contemporary elephants guard a new house in Bushwick:


Here, the story of some real elephants that lived in New York City.

“The Life Cafeteria”

October 10, 2008

Painter and Greenwich Village resident Vincent La Gambina immortalized this 1936 scene from the Life Cafeteria, an eatery on Sheridan Square. 

Dubbed the “arrestaurant” by Village poet Max Bodenheim because of the unsavory characters who frequented the place, Life Cafeteria attracted bohemians, the downtrodden, male prostitutes, and other locals looking for cheap food and a comfortable place to watch the world go by.

This painting belongs to the Museum of the City of New York.

Naked women vs. mythic sea creatures

July 25, 2008

From the facade of a pre-war apartment building in Sheridan Square in the West Village.

They’re so unique and dynamic. Must be a story behind why the architect had them put up.