The intersection of 7th Avenue South and Christopher Street has existed only since the 1910s, when 7th Avenue was hammered south to connect 7th and Greenwich Avenues with Varick and Clarkson Streets. The “new” 7th Avenue South ran above a new southern extension of the IRT Subway that now comprises a lengthy chunk of the #1 train.
The unmistakable red and white signs of Village Cigars, on the SW corner of 7th Avenue South and Christopher Street, are emblematic of the Village. The cigar shop has been here since the 1920s.
Occupying the same location adjacent to Sheridan Square since the early twentieth century, this corner convenience store is as close to a New York institution as a little tobacco store can get… inside, the triangular, utilitarian store does a brisk business. One wall holds lighters, papers, flasks, and cigar cutters; another stocks cigarettes from around the world; the third displays the store’s cigars, which hail largely from Central and South America. Village Cigars also sells hookahs, pipes, and related paraphernalia, as well as corner-shop staples like lottery tickets and candy bars, but it’s mainly a place to buy a quality cigar for less than the price of a pack of cigarettes. — New York Magazine
The property marker for the long-gone Hess Estate has long been a Forgotten NY favorite. There used to be a five-story residential building on Christopher Street called The Voorhis. It was condemned in the 1910s to make way for the IRT subway and 7th Avenue South However, the Voorhis’ owner, David Hess, refused to surrender this small plot to the city to become part of 7th Avenue South’s new sidewalk. The Hesses created this mosaic to let everyone know of their small (very small) victory against the city.
Village Cigars moved to its present corner site in 1922, and bought the 500-square inch property from the Hesses for $1,000. The mosaic has stayed put, while Village Cigars has become an iconic symbol of the Village. The Hesses sold their triangle to Village Cigars in 1938, but there it remains, a monument to good old fashioned spite. (Mostly all of my own triumphs have come from spite.)
Unfortunately the Covid Pandemic may claim this Greenwich Village symbol. The shop’s owner says business has dropped considerably and he has had to put the small parcel up for sale for a reputed $5.5 million. Any new owner would have to decide to retain the store (unlikely) or attract a tenant such as a bank (which is more likely).
In short, it may be another case of sick transit, Gloria.
Check out the ForgottenBook, take a look at the gift shop, and as always, “comment…as you see fit.”
If anything, This Disease Thing should have been a boost to Village Cigars’ business. Smoking rates declined by less than their normal year-to-year percentage in 2020 as people were stuck home all the time with nothing else to do. And of course in New Jersey, puffing away on a cigarette will get you pushed to the top on the vaccine priority list.
If indeed the store closes, I wouldn’t expect a bank to take its place. Branch banking has been on the decline for many years as people do more and more of their banking online.
Yeah, my Chase branch in Little Neck is closed indefinitely.
Same story at Bank of America herein San Tan Valley, AZ
Wouldnt be surprised to find out that store had been in a Edward Hopper or Reginald Marsh painting or once had a Optimo Cigars sign on the front of it.
Hi Kevin –
Greg Mocker just did a story on this topic, 2-11-21. It aired on the Pix 11 10 O’Clock News. Perhaps he was inspired by your above post!
Owner, Jonathan Posner is a life long Village resident. The building is within a historic district and any structural changes must be approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Andrew Berman, head of Village Preservation is watching this closely.