Walks in New York and elsewhere

My comments on buildings, shops, restaurants that catch my eye as I wander around New York City and other places.

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Location: New York, New York, United States

Friday, December 16, 2005

Bleecker Street

Bleecker Street begins at Bowery and ends at Hudson. The street follows a path that originally ran through the farm of the family of Anthony Bleecker, a writer who would have been completely forgotten had he no ceded the land to the city for a street in 1806. His generous act made it worth his while to sell parcels of the farm for development. The 1811 grid was not superimposed over this area, and Bleecker Street retains a curve.

Bleecker Street passes through three NYC-designated historic districts. From from east to west, they are NoHo East, NoHo and Greenwich Village. There are mixed uses along its entire length, giving the street great vitality, day and night.

The western boundary of NoHo East is the west side of Bowery. Standing at the foot of Bowery, and looking across the street are two small-scale but beloved cultural institutions, the Amato Opera, which has to be the world's smallest opera house

and CBGB's, the home of punk rock, which has received a great deal of press lately because it is threatened by eviction by its landlord. It is not safe to assume that the audiences don't overlap. This is New York, where anything is possible.

On the ground floor of 2 Bleecker, on the south side of the street, is bar named "Mannahatta" after the poem by Walt Whitman,
presumably because the building dates from Whitman's time. It was designed by Nicholas Whyte and constructed in 1868.

Across the street are a row of buildings ranging from the second decade of the 19th century (with later alterations) to the 1880s, conveying an idea of what the street looked like immediately after it ceased to be part of the farm.

7 Bleecker (the green ground floor) was built in 1816-17. The third floor was added later.

9 Bleecker has been the home of the Yippies. I'm not sure how to describe them -- zany political activists known for distinctively theatrical antics.

Next door, 11 Bleecker, is the wine bar, Quartino.

The Margaret Sanger Center and Planned Parenthood's executive offices are at 26 Bleecker.

Graffiti on #41:


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