This year marks the 50th anniversary of the designation of the Greenwich Village Historic District. One of the city’s oldest and largest landmark districts, it’s a treasure trove of rich history, pioneering culture, and charming architecture. Village Preservation will be spending 2019 marking this anniversary with events, lectures, and new interactive online resources, including a celebration and district-wide weekend-long “Open House” starting on Saturday, April 13 in Washington Square. Check here for updates and more details. This is part of a series of posts about the Greenwich Village Historic District marking its golden anniversary.
It’s not that often you can pinpoint a time and place and say the course of history was forever changed as a result of it. It’s even less common for such a thing to happen over and over again in one small neighborhood. But from its earliest days, Greenwich Village is where history has been made, much of it within the Greenwich Village Historic District, which lies at its heart. Here are a baker’s dozen of such events located within those one hundred blocks, from the first free black settlement in North America and the birth of the modern LGBT rights movement to the first museum dedicated to contemporary American art and the publication of “The Autobiography of Malcolm X.”
All the history right this way
Rendering via Perkins Eastman
As a solution to Manhattan’s growing gridlock, planning and design firm Perkins Eastman is proposing a physical redesign of New York City’s street grid. In a CityLab article penned by Jonathan Cohn, who leads the firm’s transportation and public infrastructure studio, and Yunyue Chen, the recipient of Perkin Eastman’s 2017 Architectural Fellowship for the Public Realm, they argue the city should “transform the streets radically, dedicating them to pedestrians.” This includes grouping blocks into larger neighborhoods and organizing them into either thoroughfares and local streets.
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Photo courtesy of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation
Deemed by historians as the “single most important document in New York City’s development,” the Commissioners’ Plan of 1811, which planned Manhattan’s famous grid system, turns 210 years old this month. As the Village Preservation tells us, the chief surveyor of the plan, John Randel Jr., and city officials signed the final contract on March 22, 1811. The plan, completed at the end of the 19th century, produced 11 major avenues and 155 cross-town streets still used today.
Learn more here
It’s easy to tell if you’re dealing with a Queens address–there’s the hyphenated street number and the variety of numbered thoroughfare names (Street, Place, Road, Avenue, Lane, Terrace). The really hard part, however, is actually getting to that address in Queens, especially if you’re a resident from another borough to whom it feels like trying to maneuver your way in another country where you don’t know the language. But instead of continuing to find ourselves lost, we decided to get to the bottom of this complicated system.
Prior to the consolidation of New York City in 1898, what is now known as the borough of Queens was only a hodgepodge of unconnected towns, each of which had its own road system and addresses. Once the towns were combined into one borough, having multiple road systems was becoming a hindrance to fast-growing Queens. So by 1911, the borough hired engineer Charles U. Powell to replace the old systems with a carefully planned grid system.
The rest of the story is right this way