While we have been savoring the summer-like weather, Fall has finally arrived. Local Farmer’s markets are displaying pumpkins and serving cider as we watch the days slowly wane, cool weather creeps in as we await the leaves to change color.
This month’s Culturally Inclined focuses on Greenwich Village, which is the perfect place for a self-guided tour of local galleries, historical sites, ghosts or literary lives who have lived and worked in the area, storing up for the winter months in a farm to table restaurant, enjoying music including jazz at Smalls, The Village Vanguard, Arthur’s Tavern or in one of the other many renowned establishments, trying a new yoga discipline such as “aerial”, strolling and dreaming in the parks and playgrounds or just meandering into one of the independent bookstores.
Greenwich Village is bordered by Broadway to the east, the North River (part of the Hudson River) to the west, Houston Street to the south, and 14th Street to the north, and roughly centered on Washington Square Park and New York University.
Given the upcoming Hallow’s Eve and All Saint’s Day, I am reminded of the days when I had taken graduate English literature classes at NYU and stories of ghosts lurking in many of the buildings were frequently told. In particular, the iconic 10 acre Washington Square Park surrounded by New York University buildings is a central focal point of Greenwich Village moored by Stanford White’s Washington Arch and it’s macabre past. The area known by Lenape tribe was once a marshy area with the largest natural watercourse known as “Minetta Stream…or Brook…or Creek” rich with trout, water-foul and mystic creatures. After the Revolutionary War, a portion of this land became a potter’s field for the many epidemics that ravaged the area: small poxs, yellow/typhoid fever, etc. Per the New York City Parks and Recreation Department, they confirm that corpses “possibly numbered as many as 20,000 and it appears these burials remain under varying depths of fill.” On July 4, 1826 – the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence – the former potter’s field was officially declared the Washington Military Parade Ground. Even Edgar Allen Poe literary grotesque leanings were inspired by the areas gas lit streets and the local spirits. The Gothic Revival period ensued, but was soon followed by social unrest. As property values in the area began to rise, NYU purchased the property in 1832 for $40,000, but it quickly put the school in debt, professors would not be paid and school books were mortgaged. A reversal of fortunes soon changed as property values increased further, leading to new construction in the area. During the Gilded Age, tranquil periods followed somber moments. In 1911 there was a horrific fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory that claimed 146 lives. As years progressed, retail and housing in the area continued to evolve, turning Greenwich Village into the mecca of cultural and artistic expression it is today.
History continues to co-exists with new development even in Greenwich Village as reported by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP). Some recent new developments in the area: the former St. Vincent hospital is now the luxurious development Greenwich Lane | 12 East 13th | The Shepherd, Romanesque-revival style building was erected in 1896 as the Everard Storage Warehouse and designed by Martin V. B. Ferdon for James Everard, 175 West 10th Street, once known as 130 Seventh Avenue South, have launched. After clearing hurdles from the community board and Landmarks Preservation Commission, and the D’Orsay on West 14th Street the developer Adellco created a timeless boutique-sized building.
Some of my neighborhood haunts are Bobo on 181 West 10th Street, Mas Farm House on 39 Downing, Pearl Oyster Bar on 18 Cornelia Street, Palma on 28 Cornelia, steeped in history and romance with a piano player One if by Land Two if by Sea on 17 Barrow Street, Loring Place on 21 West 8th St., Minetta Tavern on 113 MacDougal, Beatrice Inn for steak or large burgers on 285 West 12th, happy hour at Macondo West for the best tuna tacos, Villenelle on 15 East 12th Street and John’s (circa 1929) and Keste on Bleeker are worth a try.
Legendary Cafes to try on those cold Autumn days are Caffe Reggio (circa 1927) at 119 Macdougal, La Lanterna di Vittorio on 129 MacDougal St., The Cornelia Street Café | Music downstairs (circa 1977) on 29 Cornelia Street, Dante NYC (circa-1915) on 79-1 Macdougal St.
There’s no shortage of fun things to do in the Village, but here are a few additions:
New York’s Village 44th Annual Halloween Parade
When: Tuesday, October 31st at 7PM to 10:30PM
Where: 6th Avenue North of Spring Street to 16th Street | TV | NY 1 – 8 pm – 9:30pm
Theme – “Cabinet of Curiosities: An Imaginary Menagerie.
Italian Harvest Party
Where – Industria, West Village
When – Saturday, October 14th from Noon to 2PM
Theme – Celebrate the arrival of Autumn with an Italian twist, as Food Network’s Giada De Laurentiis and her daughter Jade welcome you to their Italian Harvest Party. You’ll snack on local restaurant dishes inspired by the autumn bounty, including pizzas, pastas, charcuterie, cheese and dessert, filled with signature fall ingredients.
Open House New York Weekend
When: October 14th and 15gh
Where: Click on Link for Location of Event Guides
Theme: Open House New York Weekend unlocks the doors of New York’s most important buildings, offering an extraordinary opportunity to experience the city and meet the people who design, build, and preserve New York.
Wishing you a happy trick or treating. This is a perfect time to walk the Greenwich Village Streets in search of haunted and new landmarks. Keep me posted on how you are doing and what you uncover.
Things always change and New York teach you that – Richard Hell, American Singer
New York is an ugly city, a dirty city, its climate is a scandal, its politics are used to frighten children, its traffic is madness, its competition is murderous. But there is one thing about it – once you have lived in new York and it has become your home, no place else is good enough – John Steinbeck, Writer