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

Monday, January 23, 2006

14th Street sources

As always, any opinions expressed are my own. I consulted the following sources for some details.

New York 1880, Robert A.M. Stern et al
Streetscapes, Christopher Gray
AIA Guide to New York, White & Wilensky
New York Songlines http://www.nysonglines.com/
"The Architecture of the Greenwich Village Waterfront," Regina Kellerman
Halstead Property http://www.halstead.com/detail.aspx?id=1051582
NYC Department of Buildings

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Bleecker Street VII

One side of the block between Perry Street and West 11th Street is almost entirely residential.
The other side of the street has shops on the ground floor, including Robert Marc Opticians, Double RL western clothing and Lulu Guiness women's clothing. Most of the houses on this block were built in the 1850s.





One of the most unusual shops features home furnishings --
but not for the average home.

















In the early part of the 20th century, Greenwich Village became popular with artists, who sometimes added studio windows, like these, to the top floors of buildings where they lived and worked.













One of the few remaining independent bookstores left is the Biography Bookshop.













Not to be missed is Magnolia Bakery.

You can buy one of the bakery's famous cupcakes











and take it across the street to a little park/sitting area/playground, where there is a 1979 bronze sculpture by Chaim Gross. It was a gift from the artist to the city in honor of Mayor Koch.









This horizontally striped building, the westernmost on Bleecker Street, marks the end of the walk.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Bleecker Street VI

On the corner of Charles Street is a red brick building with a slate mansard roof and multi-paned windows. It is unlikely that this building would have received such a careful restoration if the building had not been in an historic district. The building was constructed in 1868, designed by Henry Englebert. The pipe railing at the top of the mansard is scheduled to be replaced by a decorative railing set back a bit that will suggest the metal cresting that was normally the icing on the cake, so to speak, of a typical Second Empire roof of this type.



Les Pierre Antiques occupies the ground floor of the building.














The adjacent building (constructed at the same time as the one at the corner has great dormers and what looks like some original cresting left.















Other stores on this block include two Ralph Lauren boutiques, one for men and, across the street, one for women

A hairdresser on the block displays some beautiful branches.













Across the street in a four-story row, is Cynthia Rowley







White brick seems to have turned up a lot a few decades earlier than the mid-1950s. Here's one (whitish, anyway) on the corner of Perry Street, proudly dated 1914.

Be sure to look up. There are some interesting roofscapes and cornices on the adjacent blocks.




Friday, January 13, 2006

Bleecker Street V

After crossing Seventh Avenue South, we enter the Greenwich Village Historic District, the second historic district so designated by the Landmarks Preservation Commission and the first in Manhattan. (Brooklyn Heights was the first.) It's fascinating cultural and social history has been documented in many articles, books and films. For every cliche and stereotype, there is another in contradiction. It has been home to the highest and lowest members of society, the most conservative and the most radical. It continues to defy easy categorization, but its low-rise, informal atmosphere is perhaps more conducive to casual strolling than any other neighborhood in New York. This Greek Revival row predates the buildings department, which began keeping records in 1866. These buildings were probably constructed between 1830-1850. The ground floors are much altered.



A look down Grove Street shows a typical Greenwich Village block.













Across the street is a much more recent yellow brick tenement with some nice terra cotta ornament.







The commercial streets in the Village are still lined with charming stores, like this one, Davis & Gardner, that offers a selection of antique globes.



An Aromatherapy Bar is at 321 Bleecker.


Across the street, Blue Nile has hookahs and other smoking paraphernalia in the window.














In older neighborhoods, you can find the street names directly on the buildings.
Looking up Christopher Street, one can see a row of four buildings in various states of preservation and restoration.



This was the Gessner block, constructed in 1872, it says proudly under the cornice.




Between Christoper and West 10th Street, one side of the street is not in the historic district.

But the other side is.

The nondescript building houses Satya, a store that sells "yoga-inspired" jewelry











as well as Marc and Max, a lingerie and accessories shop.













There is a beautiful flower shop on the block.

But this is the store everyone remembers.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Bleecker Street IV

Our Lady of Pompeii, on the corner of Carmine and Bleecker, was built in 1926, designed by Matthew W. Del Gaudio in the Italianate style, appropriately enough, to serve the Italian community in Greenwich Village.



The block from Leroy to Morton has become a food-lover's row. The current line-up is Amy's Bread, Lobster Place Fish, Murray's Cheese and Faicco's Pork Store.













Three Federal houses remain on this side of the street, too, one of which houses Aphrodisia, a store selling oils and herbs. Look for Risotteria, a restaurant on the corner of Morton Street that specializes in risotto. It's good in its limited way, but for carb-eaters only.










On the other side of the street, there is no shortage of Italian pastry and coffee shops.
















Signs like this one, so common a generation ago, have practically disappeared.













This famous guitar store has been selling new, used, acoustic and electric instruments since 1965.













The original John's pizzeria is on this block of Bleecker, between Morton St. and Seventh Avenue South.



After your pizza, you can get dessert at Cones, whose gelato is second only to that at Otto, a few blocks away, on Fifth Avenue, at 8th Street.

Ottomanelli's has been cutting up meat since 1935.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Bleecker Street III


Crossing Broadway takes us into NYU (New York University) territory. A entire square block is taken up by by Washington Square Village, one of its many residence halls, this one for graduate students. It is difficult to get a definitive answer to the question of who owns the most real estate in the city, but general agreement seems to be that the contenders are the City itself, NYU, Columbia University, and the Roman Catholic Church.


In a very real sense, Greenwich Village is the NYU campus. Residents of Greenwich Village not connected with the university (and even some who are) often vociferously protest what they perceive as further land grabs.

The next few blocks are in Greenwich Village and are filled with small stores, restaurants and clubs that cater largely to students.Pictured here is part of the block between LaGuardia Place and Thompson St. with the Peculier Pub (spelling intentional) and The Bitter End.
















At 159 Bleecker, between Thompson and Sullivan is an odd building that was built in 1917 as a movie theater. It was originally only two stories high and only later were the additional floors added to turn it into a multiple dwelling.













Across the street is a deli beer bottle display that verges on found art.











Looking downtown at the middle of the west side of Sullivan Street











and the east side of MacDougal Street, (the next block) you are seeing the edges of the tiny MacDougal-Sullivan Gardens Historic District. The 22 Greek Revival buildings were constructed between 1844 and 1850. In the 1920s, they were altered to the appearance they have today, with the stoops removed, the ornament changed and the backyards merged to form a community garden.




I loved this door, which looks as if it may have been there since the building was constructed in 1901. It's at 192 Bleecker. The building also has some nice terra cotta ornament.

















This part of Greenwich Village once held a large Italian population. Here and there are remminders of that community, like the Perazzo Funeral Home at 199.













There was plenty of good coffee to be found in the Village, long before anyone connected with Starbucks was born.













At 6th Avenue are the Little Red Schoolhouse and Elisabeth Irwin High School, progressive private schools since 1921.













At the complex intersection of Bleecker and Sixth Avenue, pre-dating the grid,Bleecker veers to the right.

The Minetta Brook still runs underground here.