The Thirteenth Street Presbyterian Church in 1902, courtesy of the New-York Historical Society, Robert L. Bracklow Photograph Collection
The stately church building at 141-145 West 13th Street in the West Village is the picture of serene elegance. Built in 1846-47 in the Greek Revival style, the classical balance and symmetry of the façade mask a history full of controversy, including the birth of a notorious slur in American politics, which arguably changed the outcome of a pivotal presidential election.
Find out about the scandalous story
Back in November, the developer/owner of a pair of newly-landmarked buildings at 827-831 Broadway–noted for their cast-iron architecture and a rich cultural history that includes serving as home to artist Willem de Kooning—submitted a proposal for a four-story prismatic glass addition and landscaped roof terrace that architects DXA Studio say was influenced by de Kooning’s work. Yesterday, the Landmarks Preservation Commission received the proposal with mixed reviews, feeling skeptical about whether or not cultural events should influence a building’s architecture. After hearing testimony from a slew of local residents and preservationists who feel the glass topper is too large, the LPC decided to take no action on the plan, instead sending the team back to the drawing board to better detail the restoration aspects and reconsider the addition as perhaps shorter and further setback.
More details and renderings ahead
Fire Patrol #2 in 2009, via Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation Image Archive
The former firehouse located at 84 West 3rd Street in Greenwich Village is often noted for being the renovated and restored home of TV personality and journalist Anderson Cooper. But it’s just as noteworthy for an unusual history connected to Benjamin Franklin and insurance underwriters, and for not being the kind of firehouse you think it is at all.
The whole history and current use
Abandoned buildings along the Christopher Street Pier. Ca. 1974. © Jack Dowling Collection for GVSHP.
6sqft’s series The Urban Lens invites photographers to share work exploring a theme or a place within New York City. In this installment, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation shares a collection of archival images by Jack Dowling that documents the crumbling piers of Greenwich Village in the 1970s. Are you a photographer who’d like to see your work featured on The Urban Lens? Get in touch with us at [email protected].
The fetid smell of rotted wood and the Hudson River nearly rises from these photos of the sorry state of Greenwich Village’s collapsing piers in the 1970s. The contrast is stark between the neighborhood’s disinvested, abandonment, pictured here, and its current culture of high rents and pricey coffee shops. Among New York City’s main concerns when photographer Jack Dowling created, “Decay and Rebirth Along the Greenwich Village Waterfront in the 1970s,” were its murder rate and the looming threat of bankruptcy when these photos have taken; the city as a whole has changed drastically in the decades since.
The visible difference from the present is astounding
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