December 5, 2003 wasn’t exactly a great day in Forgottenville – it was a Saturday, I was working at Macy’s, as all of us at Macy’s had to do on Saturdays during the holiday season, and I was screamed at by the boss, an almost comically ill-tempered woman, over a ridiculous matter. It was, however, snowing heavily and before leaving the house that morning I made sure to take my camera with me, because snowstorms are for photography. After they let us out of the cage around 2 PM, I made my way down to Greenwich Village for this series of pictures, that originally appeared in my late unlamented Forgottenblog that year (I took it down after becoming too embarrassed about my non-FNY blatherings). Though we don’t have any snow in NYC this year in December, I thought I should repost something from a year in which we did..
BLEECKER STREET AT MORTON STREET. Bleecker, along this stretch between 6th and 7th Avenues, is where many streets begin and end. Morton and Leroy arrive from the Hudson River to have their northeastern progress ended here, while Jones and Cornelia, two of the Village’s one-block streets, start northeast. The stretch of Bleecker shown here, between 6th and 7th (South) is home to many used-record shops, while Matt Umanov’s guitar shop has been well-known among NYC musicians for over 40 years.
COMMERCE STREET. Briefly known in the 1800s as Cherry Lane, it is one of NYC’s few L-shaped streets, turning northwest at an acute angle to join Barrow Street. The Cherry Lane Theater is seen at left. We are standing just off Bedford. The Grange Hall restaurant can be seen directly ahead.
#17 Grove Street was built in 1822 by window sash maker William Hyde, and is one of Manhattan’s few remaining wood-frame houses (as is 100 Bedford, seen just behind the house to the left; it was also built by Hyde). The unusual building at the rear, 102 Bedford, is known as “Twin Peaks”: built in 1835, it was controversially renovated in 1926.
About as Christmas as it gets in New York City
CHRISTOPHER STREET at GREENWICH AVENUE. The Jefferson Market Library (ex-Courthouse) is not often photographed from this angle, as most photographers tend to catch it from 6th Avenue. The building was constructed beginning in 1874 and was inspired by Ludwig II’s Bavarian castle, Neuschwanstein. Ludwig built three magnificent castles; he later went insane and was found drowned.
JONES STREET. If you don’t recognize Jones Street by its album cover, you can be forgiven. It was fully 47 years ago [as of 2010] that Bob Dylan was captured strolling down Jones toward West 4th Street by photographer Don Hunstein, with then-girlfriend Suze Rotolo, for the cover shot of his 1963 LP The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. For a time Dylan lived on West 4th Street and his relationship with Rotolo, according to legend, inspired songs such as “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” and “Boots of Spanish Leather.”Freewheelin’ introduced “Blowin’ In The Wind”, “Masters of War” and “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall.”
GAY STREET, another of the Village’s crooked lanes, runs from Waverly Place north to Christopher Street. Author Ruth McKenney, whose book My Sister Eileen was adapted for stage and screen, and radical attorney William Kunstler have lived on this short street. Gay Street is either named for an early 19th Century landowner in the area named Gay, as Henry Moscow (of The Street Book) says, citing a reference to it in NYC Common Council minutes of April 23, 1827; Sanna Feirstein, of Naming New York, says it is named for Sidney Harold Gay, managing director of the New-York Times (which spelt it that way when he was there). Since Sidney Gay was alive between 1814-1888, I’d say Moscow’s is probably the more likely scenario.
WASHINGTON MEWS, between 5th Avenue and University Place north of Washington Square Park, was originally used for hostelry: stables servicing the expensive homes facing the park were originally located here. The stables were converted to human housing several decads ago. The lane still has its distinctive Belgian block pavement, and in some cases, like that shown here, the stones are worn down sufficiently enough to resemble cobblestones.
Photographed December 2003; page completed December 22, 2010