Greenwich Village, New York City
“Heaven have mercy on us all—Presbyterians and Pagans alike—for we are all somehow dreadfully cracked about the head, and sadly need mending”
—Herman Melville (1819-1891)
Established in 1846 as the Thirteenth Street Presbyterian Church, the Village Presbyterian Church came about as the result of a 1910 merger with the Fourteenth Street Presbyterian Church, and being renamed Greenwich Presbyterian. Following yet another merger in 1956, this time with the Chelsea Presbyterian Church, resulted in the church being renamed Village Presbyterian.
Membership dropped off to such a point that the church disbanded in 1975. A developer bought the building with the goal of converting it into luxury condominiums. Because the church falls within the Greenwich Village Historical District the developer had to win approval for his development from the Landmarks Preservation, which he did, despite strong public protest. The conversion process was completed in 1982; the street facing façade was unaltered, with entrances to the residences discreetly placed along the side walls.
The Village Presbyterian Church, in the Greek Revival style, resembles the Theseum in Athens, Greece. It was built in 1846; but two fires, one in 1855 and the other in 1902, almost destroyed the building. Seeing this massive façade amongst traditional New York townhouses of the same era is startling. The strong white columns dwarf all else around them. The building is attributed to Samuel Thompson, a builder and an architect,
145 West 13th Street, Between Sixth and Seventh Avenues
“A nickel will get you on the subway, but garlic will get you a seat”
—Anonymous, (it is clear these amusing words of wisdom date from the early days of the NY subway system; the fare has not been a nickel since the 1930s.)
On the corner of Greenwich Avenue and West 13th Street you will find an excellent example of Art Deco industrial architecture. It is a substation (A substation is a part of an electrical system. Substations convert electrical voltage from high to low, or the other way round, or perform other important functions.) for the Eighth Avenue Subway, built between 1932 and 1933, the height of the Art Deco period.
This style, in both architecture and other design, played down ornamentation in favor of geometric lines. There is decoration, but not a whole lot of it, and what there is took its cue from geometry. The large steel doors are embossed with the same style of decoration that is used for the limestone trim. The attractive brickwork, using light-colored hues, contrasts with the grey granite base. The lettering above the door is the same that is used in the same bold sans serif style used by the Independent (IND) Subway station that the substation served.
Of the estimated 300 Federal houses in Manhattan, the best preserved is the 175-year-old Merchant's House Museum. It is basically in the same condition now as it was when the Tredwell family lived here three decades before the Civil War.
Open 12 to 5 p.m., Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday.
$8 General, $5 Students & Over 65
29 East Fourth Street, New York, NY 10003
The Museum is located between Lafayette Street and Bowery in historic NoHo, bordering Greenwich Village, the East Village, and SoHo.
We stumbled on Amy's Bread as we wandered around Greenwich Village. This compact premises with a few of tables for two & a window bench with stools had a constant flow of clients eating in or taking out the wonderful food on offer from the friendly staff. The Soup was hot & hearty & my grilled ham & cheese sandwich was probably the best I have ever had. But I'm not finished yet. The Red Velvet Cake was divine so much so that I made a special trip to Amy's just to have another piece of that cake!!!!! I suppose I can see Yankee Stadium next time.
For those interested in old fire stations or old architecture get along to Greenwich Village to view this beauty. Located in a side street a few buildings in from Greenwich Ave you cannot help but see this gem.
I had a photo of the plaque giving full particulars but sadly deleted it when I ran out of memory card.
Well never give up I found the plaque 50 photos earlier, I must have deleted an earlier photo so I could get this picture to authenticate the history. Built in 1891.
Far west, on west side of West 4th Street between Bank and West 12th, you will find the second-hand book store Bookleaves. It sits beside a Chinese laundry from which I have seen one customer exit in the last year. I'm certain that people frequent this particular establishment, I've just never seen them.
The owner of the book store sits behind a desk in the far corner of the one-room shop and rarely looks up from his reading. You are free to browse and pick and graze through his collection at your leisure. I often wander in and around and pick up a book or two. He keeps a stack of books for under five dollars and no matter what else I look at, I always stop at the bargain box before leaving. More often than not I will find a book I have been meaning to read.
I visited Portugal not long ago and returned fascinated with all things Portuguese. I found a cook book there, written forty years before and filled with the textures and flavors and songs of the place. The illustrations were all from the late 50's, not the Portugal I visited in 2000 but one I could now imagine and incorporate into my memories. It was just the kind of book I hope to find when I visit the store: a book about Greenwich Village or Paris or London in another time. He has them all and many have inscriptions in them, because he buys his books from people not publishers. He was buying books this weekend at a front step sale across the street from my apartment. His presence at the book sale created a small stir ... he is rarely seen outside his store. He bought one book and the next day the family moved away.
This book will remain a while longer in the neighborhood, in his store, before it is picked up by someone else and taken home again. And it might have an inscription on it like one I found in a paperback copy of "The Snow Leopard" which read, "Be it pleased to remember the 5th of November. Jen, here is a great adventure story for you. But remember ... it's the journey that counts. Love, Dad"
Arthur has sold Bookleaves.
About a year and a few months back we celebrated my friends birthday in Manhattan. We spent 15 hours walking around the city. While waiting for the comedy club to open it's doors for an 11 o'clock stand up act we found ourselves in this record shop on the corner a few blocks down. Like the rest of Greenwich Villiaga in Manhattan, the shop was filled with interesting things, old records, posters. Most of the music was used, but still in awesome condition. It was the type of place you'd find the CD of a band that only you knew about. I bought a unique Kurt Cobain poster there. The thing is bigger than me and it only cost me $15. I bought a fairly sizable Coldplay poster too, this one only $7. I can't wait to go back to Greenwich Villiage so I can visit this shop again!!! (picture is coming soon)
The Jefferson Market Courthouse was named after former president Thomas Jefferson. In 1833 this site used to be a market with a fire lookout tower which had a giant bell that alerted the neighborhood's volunteer fire fighters. The Courthouse was built in 1877 and voted the fifth most beautiful building in America. By 1945 the market had moved, court sessions were discontinued and the building was endangered. In the late 1950's preservationists campaigned to save the building from demolition - it was restored and turned into a branch of the New York Public Library in 1967. It is now one of The Village's most treasured landmarks.
address : 425 6th Avenue
subway : A,B,C,D,E,F to W 4th St -Washington Square
open 10am-6pm Mon; noon-6pm Tue/Thu/Fri, noon-8pm Wed, 10am-5pm Sat.
Closed on Sundays and public holidays.
St. Luke's Place isn't really a street all by itself but the name for the part of Leroy St opposite of J. Walker Park in Greenwich Village.
This is a stunning row of lovely houses from the 1850's - it's a very charming, romantic scene and probably one of the most beautiful blocks you'll find in the city. Really worth a look when you're in the Village.
Interesting facts about a few of these stylish houses :
N° 4 : Poet Marianne Moore lived here.
N° 6 : NY mayor (1926-32) Jimmy Walker lived here, in front are the lamps that used to identify a mayor's home in NY.
N° 10 : Home of the Huxtables in the 80's sitcom "The Cosby Show" (although the series sets it in Brooklyn not Manhattan)
N° 16 : Writer Theodore Dreiser wrote "An American Tragedy" here.
About 0.2 miles / 300 m south of Sheridan Sq, at Leroy St between Hudson and Varick St
Some nearby Subway stops, the first one being the closest :
to the southeast : Houston St / Varick St
to the north : Christopher St / Sheridan Sq
to the northeast : W 4th St / Washington Sq
Tip : also check my other "off the beaten path" - entry for 75 1/2 Bedford St, which is just around the corner.
Garber's Hardware Store
He's a cheerful, compact man with a soft Caribbean accent and bottle-cap glasses that seem to explode his eyes out to greet me. I don't think he can see much that isn't within a few inches from his face, but he seems to know where everything is in this store that sprawls through three large rooms of a building that was standing when Chester Arthur was President. What will he do when Garbers closes it doors on Horatio street for the last time next week and moves to a new location on Greenwich street between 10th and Charles? I expect the two brothers who operate Garber's will devise a role for him that will insure his familiarity with the stock. And I expect he will stay on at Garber's for as long as he wants to keep coming to work, because it is that kind of place, a family run store that has served the same community for over 100 years. It is a business with a face and a personality and it radiates a difficult to define sense of security. Even if you are not an incurable putterer like me, you know that you can always find it at Garber's, whatever "it" is.
I had asked Mr. Garber a few weeks back if anyone was going to document the final days of the store on Horatio Street and he told me someone was making a video. I'm glad people are paying attention, as a chapter in this Village's history comes to a close.
I went into the store a few days after 9/11. I didn't need anything, but I bought a few flashlight batteries and took a look around the store to see if people were stocking up on anything in particular. Mr. Garber was busy behind the counter filling orders and looking out into the store now and then. It was business as usual at Garber's.
It's easy to simply eat through New York, but it's even easier when there's an organized tour. Foods of New York are walking tours that highlight the shops, restaurants, cafes and other gastronomical wonders that are downtown NYC (Greenwich Village and Chelsea).
The only shop of its kind I have come across ...
Joanne Hendrick's Cookbooks (and books about food and wine) Out of Print, Antiquarian Unusual. 488 Greenwich Street, NYC 10013
This shop sits in the front room of a small townhouse in the West Village ... At certain times of the day you might see activity in the kitchen behind the curtain. It is the best cookbook shop I know for hard-to-find cookbooks.
"La Bonne Table" by Ludvig Bemelman, 1964
"The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook" ABT, 1954
"Beard on Bread" James Beard, 1975
"Tender Buttons" Gertrude Stein, 1914
These books are the real thing ... so if you love cooking ... check it out.
Don't just hang around Time Square/Manhatten. Go to Soho and Greenwich Village, there's so much to do and see there in terms of culture/art/music. Also the bars and restaurants are nicer and cheeper.
Go to Central Park, esspecially on a sunday morning, as you can spend hours whatching the nice girls running and rollerblading through.
Whilst walking down Greenwich Avenue, the Village, we came across a wire fence covered in hundreds of these painted tiles. It was a tribute to the people who lost their lives on September 11.