The Stuyvesant Casino in 1945, via the Swedish Buck Johnson Society (L); The Ukrainian National Home Today, via Wally Gobetz/Flickr (R)
On 2nd Avenue, just south of 9th Street at No. 140-142, sits one of the East Village’s oddest structures. Clad in metal and adorned with Cyrillic lettering, the building sports a slightly downtrodden and forbidding look, seeming dropped into the neighborhood from some dystopian sci-fi thriller.
In reality, for the last half century the building has housed the Ukrainian National Home, best known as a great place to get some good food or drink. But scratch the surface of this architectural oddity and you’ll find a winding history replete with Jewish gangsters, German teetotalers, jazz-playing hipsters, and the American debut of one of Britain’s premier post-punk bands, all in a building which, under its metallic veneer, dates back nearly two centuries.
Learn this fascinating history
Artist’s studios on Bleecker Street, via GVSHP
With fall’s arrival and the turning back of the clocks, sunlight becomes an ever more precious commodity. Perhaps no New York living space is more centered around capturing and maximizing that prized amenity than the artist’s studio, with its large casement windows and tall ceilings. So with sunlight at a premium, let’s conduct a brief survey of some of the most iconic artist’s studio windows in the Village and East Village.
But first, a little history
1980s photo of the Alamo surrounded by mural, vendors, & musicians. © Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation Image Archive.
On November 1, 1967, an enigmatic 20-foot-tall cube first appeared on a lonely traffic island where Astor Place and 8th Street meet. Though several months before the release of “2001: A Space Odyssey,” the one-ton Cor-Ten steel sculpture shared many qualities with the sci-fi classic’s inscrutable “black monolith,” at once both opaque and impenetrable and yet strangely compelling, drawing passersby to touch or interact with it to unlock its mysteries.
Fifty years later, Tony Rosenthal’s “Alamo” sculpture remains a beloved fixture in downtown New York. Like 2001’s monolith, it has witnessed a great deal of change, and yet continues to draw together the myriad people and communities which intersect at this location.
Learn about the cube’s entire 50-year legacy
Beginning in 2006, the conversion of a boarded-up brownstone at 224 East 14th street has been too fascinating to avoid headlines. The features that make the four-unit “Brownstone East Village” so noteworthy: on the second floor, a facade of honeycomb-patterned aluminum with a brownstone veneer can be automatically retracted to bare the home’s interiors to the bustling traffic of 14th Street just outside. At the rear, a glass- and steel-paneled garage door raises to open the kitchen onto the open air of an urban lawn. The project’s architect, Bill Peterson, moved into the garden triplex with the retractable facade screen and garage doors; Philadelphia developer Alon Barzilay purchased the home from Peterson in 2014 for $2.355 million. Now, this traffic-stopping two-bedroom triplex is back on the market asking $4.2 million.
Check it out, this way
This impeccably decorated one-bedroom garden maisonette at 645 East 11th Street has East Village charm, international flair and a claim to the “largest private garden in Manhattan.” Adding to the apartment’s unique style is the treasure trove of interior details that reflect the owners’ extensive travels to Asia, Bali and elsewhere including ceiling fans from the Metropole Hotel in Vietnam, a rosewood fireplace mantel, 19th century mahogany doors, a 19th century Chinese armoire and 10-foot teak walls surrounding a dozen bamboo trees in teak planters in the massive back garden.
Take the tour
The Flatiron Building is one of the city’s most iconic and beloved landmarks. Since 1902 it’s been a symbol of New York, though ironically its acute angle formed by the intersection of Broadway and Fifth Avenue makes it an unusual sight in our otherwise orthogonal city on a grid. But while the Flatiron Building may be the most famous product of quirky street angles, it’s far from the only one. In fact, the “off-the-grid” streets of Greenwich Village and the East Village contain scores of them, most of which pre-date the 23rd Street landmark.
Take a tour of the little Flatirons
New York City is filled with homes–and stories–that are truly one-of-a-kind, and this massive, customized-from-top-to-bottom townhouse at 113 East 2nd Street in the East Village is a perfect example. The five-story townhouse is brimming with creative additions by residents who themselves helped shape one of the city’s most storied neighborhoods. The 7,000-square-foot property finds itself finally on the market for $10.5 million after a decade-long dispute between its owners, Phil Hartman and Doris Kornish, founders of the now-national pizza chain Two Boots, as the New York Post reports. The two divorced in 2008 and have been fighting over the home, where the pair raised three children, ever since. The 25-foot wide two-family townhouse is currently configured as an owner’s unit with seven bedrooms and a separate one bedroom apartment on the parlor floor with “very limited and specific commercial uses.” Though there are endless details that add originality and livability within, highlights include a serene rear garden and a performance space in the basement and cellar that’s complete with a stage and 14-foot ceilings.
Explore this rare bit of East Village history
6sqft reported last year that “True Blood” star Alexander Skarsgård had viewed the penthouse-in-a-synagogue at 415 East 6th Street in the East Village; now, the New York Post reports that “Orange Is the New Black” star and noted native New Yorker Natasha Lyonne was seen checking out the 2nd floor unit in the unique condominium building, whose still-active congregation Adas Yisroel Anshe Meseritz will meet in a new space with a separate entrance on the first floor. The $1.99 million apartment–one of only three in the building–has plenty of perks like a key-locked private elevator entry behind its carefully-restored 1910 limestone facade with original stained-glass windows and architectural details.
Take a look,this way
We are loving this East Village duplex, which boasts a front door straight out to a huge, elevated common terrace that acts like a private park for the residents of this boutique condo at 549 East 11th Street. Inside, a unique, whimsical interior has been decorated by owner Olga Vieira, owner of the yarn-turned-travel business the Koko Company. The apartment was last purchased in 1999 for $180,500 and now it’s asking $1.65 million. And if you can’t afford that, there’s still a chance to Airbnb it.
Check out the outdoor space
, Thu, September 28, 2017
There’s no shortage of sites in the Village and East Village where great makers of popular music lived or performed. Less well known, however, are the multitude of sites that were the backdrop for iconic album covers, sometimes sources of inspiration for the artists or just familiar stomping grounds. Today, many are hiding in plain sight, waiting to perform an encore for any passersby discerning enough to notice. Ahead, we round up some of the most notable examples, from “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” to the Ramones’ self-titled debut album.
Learn about the covers and see what the locations look like today