Greenwich Village – Let’s start with the Jefferson Market area

 A very good place to visit during a tour of Greenwich Village is the Jefferson Market Library. It is hard not to notice and  it’s on a most peculiar piece of land. 6th Avenue on one side, Christopher Street on another, Greenwich Avenue on another side and 10th Street covers the remaining two sides.

Greenwich Village

The building has had a fascinating prior life. It was formerly a courthouse, with a prison next door ( it is a garden today. Every last inch of the unusual shaped lot was used to its maximum. Only the court house remains and in 1967, the building was reopened as a New York Public Library branch.

Notable names that were locked up in the old courthouse jail cells next door, also known as the Women’s House of Detention, included Mae West, Angela Davis, and Andrea Dworkin, Holly Woodlawn (before it was discovered she was really a man).

It had a civil court on the second floor, now the Adult Reading Room, and a police court, now the first-floor Children’s Room.

 The façade is opulently ornamented, especially the Sixth Avenue side Carved details encrust the entrance and accumulate under the beautiful stained-glass windows and elsewhere around the building. The water fountain is decorated with reliefs depicting a weary traveller and a life-giving pelican.  There is also a state seal in the main gable and a frieze representing the trial from Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice that hangs over the window above the main entrance.

The surrounding Area

Standing in front of the door for the library and looking across 10th Street, there is a small, gated community that could very easily be missed by someone walking along 10th street – Patchin Place.
The small stretch of brick houses were once famous for housing writers like Theodore Dreiser and E. E. Cummings. Contrary to what you might read elsewhere, Marlon Brando did not live in Patchin Place; but his sister did, and put him up in 1943 when his career was starting.

As you walk around the corner from West 10th Street onto 6th Avenue you might not notice Milligan Place, a triangular alley. Milligan Place has only four buildings, all on the far left. A side note: Patchin Place is gated but open to the public. Milligan Place is gated and locked. 

Crossing 6th Avenue onto 11th Street we come to a cemetery that is so small you may never notice it. Lined by residential buildings, it’s only natural to assume the short stretch of fencing on the south side of West 11th Street to be the courtyard entrance to an apartment.

You’ll find what has to be the smallest graveyard in Manhattan. How small is it? Just big enough to hold about 30 graves bordering on a worn, moss-covered brick path. But perhaps even more unusual is its irregular shape: a long, thin triangle.

The graveyard is all that remains of the Second Cemetery of the Spanish & Portuguese Synagogue of the Congregation Shearith Israel. What makes the little graveyard on West 11th Street so special: it is gasp of existence of a West Village that is no more, a time when cow pastures were just down the street and local children would play in the streets.

We will end this walk on West 10th Street at #14, where Mark Twain lived.

As I begin researching Greenwich Village and its history, I am learning that this was home to many immigrants. I will update this post as I find new information.

Post first written in May 2016 updated September 2020
Thom

NYC – Homes on Shaded Street – Open House

Homes on Shaded Street – Open House

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It seems that a builder has erected 17 colorful houses of different shapes and sizes on  East 83rd Street between York and East End Avenues. Many of them are still empty and awaiting new arrivals. I should probably mention that these homes are attached to trees and poles along the street.

Figured it out? Yes, they are birdhouses.

Some of the birdhouses have specific addresses on them, corresponding to the building it sits across from. Others have words like “peace,” “home” and “good times” etched into the solid wood homes or into pieces of scrap wood seemingly picked up off the ground and nailed into the tiny structures.

Some are red, others are yellow and some are multi-colored.

Some of the houses bear words like “repose” or “peace,” while others carry more personal messages.

It just goes to show that along with well-recognized neighborhoods like Chelsea, China Town and Mid town there many streets in within them that have just a one-block character. There may be some in your neighborhood, so take a walk and find them.

 

nyc – Wooden Framed Homes with Porches – a vanishing Group

A while back I wrote about NYC wooden framed houses.  I am always fascinated that some of them still exist. Over the years, many building are now marble and limestone townhouses, but there still exist charming houses, made of plain old wood. I am singling out a few that have front porches. I would imagine that there are not many of these left. Yesterday, I found a wooden framed house at 17 east 128th Street. I should mention that there are several other wooden framed house but very few that have been restored and contain a front porch.

 My original Blog – Houses made of wood – in Manhattan? – might be of interest .

Look at the similarity of  the following three homes’

 

East 92nd Street

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412 East 85th Street

 

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17 East 128th Street

These are the only ones found that have been restored and contain a front porch. These homes are really unique to the city. I discovered that around 1866 the fire code banned  these types of houses from being built below 86th Street.

Unfortunately before many houses can be land marked, developers change them into something else. Quite a handful of old wood frame houses still exist in various parts of Harlem but none are official landmarks and so might not last much longer in the coming years.There is a lot of bland-new construction arriving in all NYC  neighborhoods these days but the actual charm that still remains in some neighborhoods comes from the past so hopefully more investors will see that in the future.

Note: The landmark commission usually takes several years to approve a property. Also, the dwelling must be able to be renovated so many of the wooden home have fallen to decay and vandalism.

NYC — small Art Galleries worth visiting

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This is a follow-up from a previous post Fall in Central Park –Metropolitan Museum Area

Today, I visited three very small art galleries just a half-block from 5th Avenue on east 79th Street. While they might not be your primary destination, I am confident it will add to your NYC experience.

 

Let’s get our bearings. Just north of east 79th Street is the Metropolitan Museum. To the south is the Frick Museum and at the corner of  East 79 and 5th Avenue is the Ukrainian Institute. If you are in Central Park, then you might be at the Obelisk or the area around the Belvedere Castle/Turtle Pond.

 Each gallery is in a brownstone and their spaces are small but very tranquil.  I’ve found the staff at each  gallery to be pleasant. You are left to enjoy the art works at your own pace. If you are interested in a studying different themes of art and seeing the modernism,  abstract and deciphering themes of art.  Each gallery is free and they do change their themes during the year.

NYC note: Most New York City galleries enjoy having people come in and look at their art. Often though, you may feel a little intimidated but I walk up those few steps and later you will come down with a smile and the satisfaction that you went inside. 

I have placed a sampling from each gallery below. I, purposely,did not identify the gallery each came from, I would like you to consider them as a combined example for your visit.

Skarstedt Gallery

20 East 79th St.

Acquavella Galleries

18 E 79th St.

Rosenfeld Gallery

16 E 79th St.

Note: There is a coffee shop at the corner of East 79th Street and Madison Avenue. Also, around the corner are more places to eat. Best to use the Park bathrooms before venturing out as bathrooms are scarce in this area. However, if really needed, you can use the bathroom in the New York  Society Library – 53 East 79th St just on the next block.

Also, along with several galleries on the upper east side, there are many small galleries throughout the city – don’t be bashful!

 

NYC -East 70’s – a quick look at fashion and food along the Avenues

 

 

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Many people explore the city by walking near a major tourist attraction, but try venturing a little further away . You may find a greater mix of stores and restaurants that may be more interesting and affordable.

Lately, I took a walk from Lexington Avenue along East 73rd Street heading towards the East River. I did enjoy strolling along the quaint tree-lined blocks, checking out historic townhouses and I ventured up and down the adjacent Avenues to see some  stores and restaurants that are less than a block away from 73rd Street.

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Part of my door series

 

This blog has mostly store windows (fashion) and one interesting Persian Restaurant. However, in my enjoyment of the walk, I forgot to note where I took many of them.

 

I peeked into this little Persian Restaurant only to find that I was too early for lunch.

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2nd Avenue and 73rd Street

 

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Long and narrow

 

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Well, the adventure is in getting out and finding the world around us…

so enjoy and  happy walking!

A little background of the East 70’s area

  • This portion of the Upper East Side is home to schools like the Hewitt School, P.S. 158, P.S. 267, Eleanor Roosevelt High School along with Marymount Manhattan College and the Allen-Stevenson School.
  • Much of the old architecture in this part of the Upper East Side is Neo-Renaissance and French neoclassical. Historic, luxurious mansions like the Henry T. Sloane House at 9 E. 72nd St. and the Edward C. Converse Mansion at 3 E. 78th St.
  • The Henry Clay Frick mansion at 1 E. 70th St. now serves as a museum displaying Fricks art collection.
  • Central Park is just to the west.

 

NYC – just looking around

New York City is an interesting place to walk. There is activity everywhere you go.

 

Look at the many different buildings (not just the usual apartment house).

 

And doorways can be fun to look at.

Also, don’t forget to stop and look up to find other things unique to the city.

 

Lastly, look for odd-shaped eye-catching buildings.

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This is a public school – I first thought it was an amusement ride

 

 

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NYC – behind the Jewish, Cooper-Hewitt and Guggenheim Museums

The area behind the Jewish, Cooper-Hewitt and Guggenheim Museums is a path less traveled.

I imagine that many tourists visit  upper east side museums and looking in their guidebooks cannot find anything else of interest to see in this upper east side area. So they stay either stay on 5th Avenue or come across from Central Park.

Food, bathrooms and shopping don’t seem to beckon anyone to linger either.Yet, walk east to Madison Avenue – what a surprise! Here you will find beautiful clothing stores, coffee  shops and restaurants.  I call this area “Behind the Museums”. In fact, I would extend the location  even further both north and south.

 

Also, wandering west and east through the East 90s allows a sampling of several different genres of architecture, some delightfully surprising, others mindnumbingly oppressive. Be sure to check out the wooden frame houses on east 92nd street.

  • The Richard Hibberd House (right) at 160 E. 92nd St., built 1852-53 and once home to Eartha Kitt.
  • The well-known 92nd Street Y is in the neighborhood. President Obama lived at 339 E. 94th St. in the 1980s.
  • Two restaurants – Fetch and the Barking Dog, attract those who like to dine outdoors with their furry friends.
  • The subway at 96th St. (6) on the Lexington line affords easy access.
  • The Marx Brothers, including Adolph “Harpo” Marx,grew up at 179 East 93rd Street, off 3rd avenue.

house 120 92nd

Two of several mansions still exist in this area. The JJ Sloan Mansion –48-50 East 92nd Street (Smart looking entrance door)

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And, the J Burden House — 7 East 91st Street (now a girls school)

 

800px-Burden-7e91   Make sure you use the bathrooms, in the Museums, before wandering in the area.

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nyc – Upper East Side – Unmarked Historic District

At the northwest corner of Lexington Avenue and 89th Street is a stretch of landmarked homes. It’s comprised of just seven Renaissance Revival–style houses completed in 1889.

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There are no signs but it is called the Hardenbergh-Rhinelander Historic District. I imagine that the surrounding neighborhood had many of these types of buildings. ornate residences.

These 6 houses are what is left after extensive development in this area. An Upper east Side website states: “Clad in red brick, brownstone and red terra cotta, the six houses form a picturesque yet symmetrical composition featuring a variety of window entrance enframements.”

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I found out that the Rhinelander family has owned them for sixty years. You may know of the family as it is very prominent in owning Broadway Theaters.

You may have noted that I was one building shy in an earlier paragraph. . In addition to this set of 6 buildings along Lexington Avenue, the district includes one narrow townhouse at 121 E. 89th Street.

Henry Hardenbergh, who designed the homes, “also designed the Dakota, the original Waldorf-Astoria on 34th Street.” It is written that Andy Warhol also lived in one of these buildings.

NYC – A look at the city from my camera lens

I remain busy trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear…Didn’t realize how many photographs that I have accumulated.

Here is a sample of what I am finding… please excuse attempt to caption them with meaning.

Note: Clicking on the pictures will enlarge them

NYC – Sylvan Terrace

The Wooden Houses of Sylvan Terrace

I don’t get up to the “northern” part of NYC that often so on Sunday, I traveled to west 160th street and St Nicholas Avenue. I wanted to see Sylvan Terrace and Jamel Terrace. In an earlier article I highlighted some wooden frame houses on East 92nd street. This blog will cover Sylvan Terrace and a look at 20 wooden frame houses on a cobblestone street.. ( Later, I will write about the  Jamel Terrace and Morris-Jamel Mansion .)

.St. Nicholas Avenue between 160th and 161st streets seems like just your run-of-the-mill Washington Heights street, but walk up a small stone staircase on the east side of the street, and you’re transported into a different time.

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1882, to be exact.

Different sized doors
Different sized doors

11 step Stooped Entrance

Sylvan Terrace is a historic cobblestone block that once served as the carriageway to the Morris-Jumel Mansion, Manhattan’s oldest house. Both sides of the street feature a total of 20 nearly    identical high-stoop wooden row houses facing one another. These yellow clapboard homes appear much as they would have in 1882, with wooden shutters, ship lap siding, bracketed eves and wooden stoops. In fact, the Landmarks Preservation Commission requires residents paint the exteriors with the nearly original colors — yellow, maroon, green and brown.

 January 2016 update here
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