GROVE COURT, Greenwich Village

by Kevin Walsh

GROVE Court in the Village can be found in a bend in Grove Street between Bedford and Hudson Streets. In fact if you look at a street map you will notice that four streets in the Village have a similar bend: Grove, Barrow, Morton and Leroy. The story goes that the bends came about because the streets were rerouted at an old property line. Grove differs from the other four, as its bend is wide enough to build several “back houses” which are a fairly frequent occurrence in the Village.

As you can see there are six brick townhouses in the back of the court, which has a gate that requires a key entry. The court goes back to 1848 when local grocer/tavern owner Samuel Cocks built it to house tradesmen who would likely frequent his establishment. A frequent trope in NYC housing is little alleys filled with housing for people with modest means that, over the decades and now centuries, became exclusive hideaways for the wealthy. Grove Court is one of those.

This court reminds me of an unusual occurrence that happened in the spring of 1999, the Dawn of Forgotten New York. I was emailed, before the days of facebook and twitter, by a woman who was intrigued by Forgotten NY and wanted to meet me. We met at a Starbucks at Broadway and 80th, and I had one of my average two coffees per year. The memory is hazy after nearly a quarter century but we wound up taking the train downtown to the Village, as she must have wanted me to show her some stuff down there, and we wound up on Grove Street. As it happened a resident with a key happened by and we gained access, the one and only time I have been in Grove Court. I snapped a couple of photos with my film camera that are in a sealed plastic envelope in the closet. We later wound up on Prince Street, but that’s all I recall. We were apparently undazzled with each other, and I never saw her again nor do I recall her name after all these years, but at least I got into Grove Court!

If you’re the woman who was with me that day, Comments are open!



Joseph meltzer November 21, 2021 - 8:26 am

It would have been great if you included an overhead map view of the area you so eloquently described in your article but I am nonetheless fascinated my parents were born in New York I used to work in New York although they were from uptown and I worked in Rockefeller center and Wall Street and wtc1.. lost 50 friends and loved ones in that mess… Anyway; I was in the village only a handful of times and had no idea where I was what it was all about I wish I was around when it was happening need to say like studio 54 cbgb’s Cafe wah Lou Reed Jimi Hendrix The Ramones I was only 10 in 1973. Dad used to take the family into the city on the train to see the Thanksgiving parade one year it was blistering cold and snowing I think that’s the last year we ever went I never did it again. I did however walk the girders at the Marriott Marquis when it was being built to bring my sister’s boyfriend lunch who was steam fitter 638 and one item on my bucket list is to get a room for New Year’s Eve at that hotel facing Broadway because I don’t like crowds but I’ll watch the festivities from above for sure. I love New York!!

Fred McCormick November 21, 2021 - 10:47 am

I came upon your site after reading the December 8, 1954 column published in “Meyer Berger’s New York”, Fordham University Press in 2004. I don’t know if you know about this collection with an
introduction by the late Pete Hamill, but it is a delightful though heartbreaking series of NYT’s columns from the 1950’s describing many unusual aspects of New York life and manners. The column I refer
to describes Grove Court as it was back in the day but also indicates that it was contemplated back then by the powers that were to tear down the homes in order to build a playground! I was happy to see
from your entry that that did not happen.

I discovered Meyer Berger after seeing an old “Naked City” TV show that was inspired by one of his “New Yorker” magazine stories about a man who made a living retrieving coins dropped down subway
grates. I understand that this story as well as Berger’s other “New Yorker” pieces are collected in his other book, “The Eight Million” which I hope to find some day in an out of the way used book store. I
would imagine that this volume would sit well with the volumes I have collected over the last few years of such GOLDEN AGE “New Yorker” writers as John McNulty, Joseph Mitchell, A.J. Liebling, St. Clair McKelway, and, of course, “The Long Winded Lady”, Maeve Brennan.

My apologies to you if you knew all of this already, but I wanted to share what I knew myself. All these things remind me of my beloved father who was born in 1915 and grew up in Ridgewood, Queens.
The books I have mentioned as well as your website which I have looked at to some extent now, make it as if he were with me again, telling me his stories of a New York of about a century ago.

Kevin Walsh November 21, 2021 - 7:38 pm

Yes, Berger was a major influence.


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