The Village Alliance has a photo on the display windows of a (temporarily) abandoned storefront on West 8th between 6th Avenue and Macdougal Street a panoramic view of West 8th looking east from 6th in, I’d say, about 1935, 1945 at the latest. Even though autos have been commonplace on NYC streets since the Roaring Twenties, wagons pulled by a pair of dobbins were also as likely to be seen.
Both the corner buildings have been replaced by slightly taller ones. Whelan’s Drugs, on the left, was until recently Gray’s Papaya, until it was ousted by a rent increase. Fear not, juice and dog fans, another frankenjuice joint is a block away at 6th and West 4th. On the right in the 1930s was the Grey’s Papaya of its day, Nedick’s, which specialized in orange juice rather than papaya.
At least two signs on the left side of the street tout “furnished rooms” which came in handy during the Depression. An optometrist has an eyeglass-frame-shaped sign above the sidewalk.
On the right we see a shingle with the word “Riker’s” and several words I can’t make out beneath it, though one seems to be “entertainment.” To the rear of this is the Village Barn, a Western-themed club/restaurant that was there from 1930-1967. After The Village Barn closed the space became Electric Lady Recording Studio where Hendrix, the Stones, the Clash and plenty of acts in between laid down trax that appeared on stax of wax.
Hard to make it out but I’m able to zoom in tight with Photoshop at home, and below the Village Barn sign is the marquee of the 8th Street Playhouse theater, where the Rocky Horror Picture Show was screened for many years before it moved to the Waverly on 6th Avenue, where it was originally screened in its original 1975 run. I can’t make out the names on the marquee but one of the words is “Memphis”; Memphis Belle came out in 1944, so that could also be the year the photo was taken.
The Village Alliance has a capsule history of 8th Street.
In this era, the intersection of 6th Avenue, West 8th and Greenwich Avenue was called Village Square and the name was displayed on street signs. The name has fallen completely out of favor since the 1940s.