Zoom of the 1852 Dripps map of Manhattan, showing the proximity of downtown cemeteries, via David Rumsey Map Collection
Most New Yorkers spend some time underground every day as part of their daily commute, but some spend eternity beneath our streets, and in a few cases occupy some pretty surprising real estate.
Manhattan cemeteries are tougher to get into than Minetta Tavern without a reservation on a Saturday night because as far back as 1823, New York forbade new burials south of Canal Street. In 1851 that prohibition was extended to new burials south of 86th Street, and the creation of new cemeteries anywhere on the island was banned. But thousands of people were buried in Manhattan before those restrictions went into effect. And while some gravesites remain carefully maintained and hallowed ground, such as the those at St. Mark’s in the Bowery Church on Stuyvesant Street, Trinity Church on Wall Street, and St Paul’s Church at Fulton and Broadway, others have been forgotten and overlaid with some pretty surprising new uses, including playgrounds, swimming pools, luxury condos, and even a hotel named for the current occupant of the White House.
A streetcar at Madison and 4th Avenue in 1890. Via MCNY.
Greenwich Village is known as the birthplace of many things – the modern gay rights movement, Off-Broadway theater, the New York School of artists and poets, the “new urbanism” pioneered by Jane Jacobs, among many other trailblazing firsts. Less closely associated with the Village, however, are radical and transformative innovations in transportation technology. But while little known, the Village was in fact home to the first elevated rail line, and the first streetcar.
The whole history right this way
© Estate of Fred W. McDarrah
Perhaps no single photographer could be said to have captured the energy, the cultural ferment, the reverberating social change emanating from New York City in the second half of the 20th century as vividly as Fred W. McDarrah. McDarrah got his start covering the downtown beat of the Village Voice in the 1950s and ’60s, as that publication was defining a newly-emerged breed of independent journalism. McDarrah penetrated the lofts and coffeehouses of Lower Manhattan to shed light upon a new movement known as “The Beats” and went on to capture on film the New York artists, activists, politicians, and poets who changed the way everyone else thought and lived.
Through the generosity of the Estate of Fred W. McDarrah and the McDarrah family, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation was fortunate enough to add to its digital archive a dozen of the most epochal of Fred McDarrah’s images of downtown icons, including Andy Warhol, Bob Dylan, Jane Jacobs, and Allen Ginsberg. And just in time for the holidays, you can purchase your own copy (with all proceeds benefitting GVSHP!).
Learn the story behind all the photos
Jimi Hendrix, via Wiki Commons
Jimi Hendrix would have turned 75 this week. In his brief 27 years and even briefer musical career, Hendrix left an indelible mark upon guitar playing and rock music, permanently transforming both art forms. But perhaps in some ways his most lasting impact came from a project completed just three weeks before his death–the opening of Electric Lady Studios at 52 West 8th Street in Greenwich Village. On August 26th, 1970, the studio opened, the only recording artist-owned studio at the time. It provided Hendrix with affordable studio space that would also meet his personal technical and aesthetic specifications.
Kicked off by an opening party near summer’s end, Electric Lady Studios was the location of Hendrix’s last-ever studio recording–an instrumental known as “Slow Blues”–before his untimely passing on September 18, 1970. Fortunately, this was only the beginning of the studio’s incredible run recording some of the greatest rock, hip hop, and pop albums of the last nearly half-century and only the latest incarnation of one of the Village’s most unusual and storied structures.
The whole history here
This Greenwich Village apartment, at the cooperative 175 Bleecker Street, is within cozy quarters. But the ground-floor, one-bedroom unit is more than meets the eye post-renovation. It’s packed with some ingenious storage, a lofted second bedroom space, and a dreamy private patio. After last selling in 2015 for $849,000, it’s back on the market with a steeper ask of $980,000. Will someone be willing to spend close to $1 million on a well-designed but modest apartment, right in the heart of the Village?
Take a look around
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
Just a week after the pair of buildings at 827-831 Broadway was landmarked, not only for their cast-iron architecture but for their long cultural history that most notably includes serving as home to world-famous artist Willem de Kooning, the developer/owner has put forth a proposal for a four-story prismatic glass addition and landscaped roof terrace. Though the architects at DXA Studio say the modern topper’s reflectivity is representative of two phases of de Kooning’s work–his 1960s rural and pastoral landscapes as seen through the reflection of surrounding plantings and his late 1950s urban landscapes through the building reflections–local groups are not so convinced.
All the details ahead
Image courtesy of the Stein Team of Sotheby’s Downtown. Credit: Scott Wintrow/Gamut Photos.
Josh Charles image: Wikipedia.
Alec Baldwin and Amanda Seyfried just got a new celebrity neighbor at the venerable Greenwich Village condo Devonshire House at 28 East 10th Street. According to the Post, “The Good Wife” star Josh Charles just purchased a three-bedroom home at the celebrity-loved building for $6.3 million. According to records, the actor recently sold a two-bedroom condo at 42 East 12th Street for $3.75 million.
Take a look
Photo via John St John Photography/photopin cc
The Village Halloween Parade may not be as completely outrageous as it once was, but this annual holiday extravaganza is quintessential Greenwich Village. Though many parade attendees are there to show off their costumes and check out those of others, there’s a large number of guests who revel in the nostalgia of a New York tradition that’s marched downtown since 1973. But there’s a lot more history to the parade than most people may know. For instance, it didn’t always go up 6th Avenue, and there’s an entire art form behind those supersized puppets.
Find out the stories behind these historic tidbits, as well as others
If there’s one neighborhood in NYC where new developments face the most challenges it’s Greenwich Village. One of the city’s first historic districts and once home to preservation godmother Jane Jacobs, the low-scale community is arguably the most vocal and steadfast in the city. But it looks like Madison Realty Capital didn’t get the memo, as they’ve tapped starchitect Robert A.M. Stern to design a hulking, 27-story condo tower at 14 Fifth Avenue, just a block north of Washington Square Park, according to NY Yimby. And while Stern’s signature classy, limestone design fits in well with the stretch’s other apartment buildings, the proposed 367-foot height will likely not sit well with locals. However, at this point, the tower is merely conceptual and will still require a public review need Landmarks Preservation Commission approvals.
More looks and details