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Sunday, January 17, 2021

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Greenwich Village / East Village – New Yorkled

14th St – Houston Street/Hudson River to 1st Ave/Alphabet City

Greenwich Village – Where radicals, bohemians, beatniks, artists, literary greats, and more once roamed and still do today. There was a time long ago when people would come down to this special part of town just to see and behold what they’ve heard about this area. To glance and maybe even gawk at that counter cultural side of life. Wait! Maybe they still do!???? I really can’t say, since I’ve been down there so many hundreds of times and well, being a native New Yorker…’guess nothing fazes me.

I’ll say one thing’s for sure. The Village of Greenwich has certainly got it’s charm! Another must for most out-of-towners to visit. Heck! not just that, but it can even be found within the Oxford English Dictionary, Encyclopedia Brittanica and other sources.

Jefferson Market Library – 6th Ave/10th St – Built from 1875-1877, this Victorian Gothic Style building is a branch of the NY Public Library, But did you know it once housed a civil court on the second floor, a police court on the first floor, and a holding area for prisoners within it’s basement (now the reference room for the library)? There was even a co-ed prison next door which became the Women’s House of Detention in 1929 to be torn down in 1973 and replaced by the garden which exists today.

It was here that the trial for Stanford White’s murder took place (the architect of our Washington Arch). Even Mae West had to appear here for obscenity charges for her Broadway Play Sex which was the target of the Society for the Suppression of Vice.

It’s a beautiful building in my book and you’re welcomed to stop on by and climb it’s spiral staircase to the second floor of the library. Of course within library hours.

History of Greenwich Village

To the Indians it was known as Sapokanican on the Island of Manatus. Early Dutch settlers of New Amsterdam knew it as Noortwyck. After the British took over, it was known as the Village of Greenwich, a sleepy mix of farms and estates. It was just 2 miles north of the City of New York which at the time was located in the region below Wall Street.

Around the 1820’s yellow fever broke out in the city and residents fled. Overnight, Greenwich Village was over run by tens of thousands of city folk seeking refuge from the dreaded virus. It was after this epidemic that some people returned and some stayed behind.

In the 1880’s people began moving into the area in increasing numbers. Many of the 19th Century Buildings still stand there today on the narrow winding streets. You can really see the vestiges of streams, and farms in these streets. That is to say, this area’s roads really don’t follow the boxy, rectangular form which makes up the rest of the city.

It was later after 1910 that this area became a popular meeting place for nonconformist writers, artists, students, intellectuals, beatniks, bohemians, homosexuals and anyone considered to be AT THE TIME of a deviant nature?

Today it is a joy to walk through the streets of Greenwich Village practically during any season. Ok, the City can be brutal in the January cold, but that doesn’t stop us!

Strolling through the village from east to west you’ll come across churches dating back to the 18th-19th Centuries and beyond. The one above to the right is where Tony and Tina’s Wedding used to take place (an interactive off-off-Broadway show)

Anybody for a tattoo?? Hehe, not me! Maybe you? There has to be maybe 10-15 tattoo parlors down here. Sure, you can find them elsewhere in the city. ‘But where else can you find a Cappuccino & Tattoo Cafe? (see left photo above). I’m dying to get pics of local folk all dolled up in their punked out hair and outfits to share with you, but I’m afraid I might not make it home in one piece.

The Cooper Union – Located at Cooper Square just around Astor Place and 7th Street is the only private, full-scholarship college in the United States dedicated exclusively to preparing students for the professions of art, architecture and engineering. The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, established in 1859, is among the nation’s oldest and most distinguished institutions of higher learning. The college, the legacy of Peter Cooper, occupies a special place in the history of American education.

St. Marks, Astor Place and 7th St. – Once again, you’ve got a row of great little restaurants and pubs along 7th Street. There’s always quite a mixture of folk walking up and down the street and within the area not to mention the slew of students from Cooper Union and NYU which has plenty of dormitories and facilities nearby.

At the center of Cooper Square is the Alamo, a steel cube which actually rotates as you push on any side. I remember being able to move it myself 10 years ago, yet today it seems to take two people to budge this structure…’perhaps due to years of rust within?
‘Then you have the beautifully designed Astor Place Kiosk through which you’ve got access to the uptown 6 train.

You’ll find hundreds of restaurants and sidewalk cafes of virtually every culture. All-American, Mexican, Indian, Italian, Polish, Pakistani, Spanish, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese and gosh the list goes on… At many spots you’ll find affordable eats with the chance to enjoy your meal on the sidewalk.

Sheridan Square and Christopher Street. Where the ole’ Village Cigar shop still stands at the very entrance of the street. It’s gotta be one of the most interesting streets to walk down on. Gay Pride Flags hang from local bars as tourists stroll along and check out the eats, shops and cafes. Heck, you even have a few sex accessory shops should that be your thing. ‘not exactly a sight for the whole family, but then again I’ve come across a few odd families in my time. Anyhow, don’t let this area intimidate you should you decide to take on this mission…lol

The Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival – The great theater on Lafayette Street which has brought us the free Shakespeare in the Park. Some of the great productions which premiered here are: Hair, A Chorus Line, Threepenny Opera and the Pirates of Penzance. You can visit their site and learn more about all the events there as well as Joe’s Pub

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