Tortoise Strolls

Archive for the ‘West Village’ Category

Washington Square Park (Its Beauty is transparent; Characters and artists abound)

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Mid-November is the time NYC gets saturated with color. As I take some of my favorite walks in the city I cannot help but admire the foliage. Just this saturday I was in Washington Square Park. A perfectly blue sky overhead and an energy of inspiration filled the four corners of the park that day. Colin Huggins was playing his baby grand. He’s known as the “Crazy Piano Guy”. Why crazy, I do not know. He’s been dragging his piano to the city’s parks for years while knocking out great tunes. Everyone just loved it.  Walking past him was a pleasure.

The street performers were doing what they always do, acrobatic maneuvers with some side jokes thrown in. Here’s a fun move. My yoga teacher wouldn’t mind if I finally learned this one myself.

Now these guys are a riot. Any film students doing a Hitchock remake? Well if you need birds these guys can help.

Just looking at the skyline with the beauty of the trees below, relaxes and invigorates me at the same time. Autumn in New York is truly special and I’m beginning to think that Spring in Paris cannot compare.

Written by agnesbstanton

November 19, 2012 at 7:38 pm

Posted in Parks, West Village

“IL Cantinori” 32 E. 10th Street

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My husband and I love this little gem of a restaurant on 10th Street, which is one of my favorite streets in the West Village.

Written by agnesbstanton

April 23, 2010 at 9:24 pm

75 1/2 Bedford Street

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Mentioned in the news upon its recent sale last december, this is the skinniest townhouse  in all of Manhattan. It was listed by Alex Nicholas of the Corcoran Group for $2,499,000, about half of the going rate for a regular sized townhouse.

It’s been around since 1873 or even possibly earlier according to Christopher Gray’s article in his book “New York Streetscapes” which mentions that “Tax records first specifically refer to the 9.5 foot-wide structure at 75.5 Bedford Street in 1873, but the assessed value of the entire parcel did not change, suggesting that the house had been built before then but simply not noted.”

From the inside, this townhouse measures 8.7 ft. wide although it’s 30 ft. deep. One can imagine the difficulty of creating a comfortable living room as it seems that there would hardly be any space for guests and one’s TV would be too close for proper vision unless at an angle. Well I guess the new owners don’t mind. The taxes are only $9,660 per year which any real estate agent will tell you is pretty good for a 3 story townhouse, with basement, in the heart of Greeenwich Village.

Provenance:

Over the years this townhouse has been home to many notable residents but got its start as a cobbler’s shop and then a candy factory. This area of Greenwich Village was a very Italian neighborhood according to the 1920 census. Starting in 1923 many artists began to move in to the neighborhood and 75.5 Bedford was converted to apartments and  leased to members of the Cherry Lane Theater which was just around the corner at 38 Commerce Street.

Between 1923-24 the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay lived here and during this time wrote “Ballad of the Harp-Weaver” for which she won the Pulitzer Prize, making her the first woman to be honored so highly for poetry. She also is know for writing”First Fig” which starts of with the famous line; “My candle burns at both ends”. This she wrote at Romany Marie’s cafe in the village famous for being a salon catering to bohemian intelligentsia.

During the 1930’s the cartoonist William Steig, his wife, and her sister the anthropologist Margaret Mead, lived in the house.

Written by agnesbstanton

April 21, 2010 at 12:11 pm

Posted in Townhouse, West Village

7 E. 10th St. “Lockwood de Forest House”

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A man interested in decorating and architecture, Lockwood de Forest founded a firm called “Associated Artists” in 1879. One of his more well-known commissions was to decorate the library and bedroom at the Andrew Carnegie house, now the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. In 1883 he was shipping woodwork from Ahmadabad, India back to the US. When he bought his West Village home at 7 E. 10th Street, he decided to use some of the beautiful woodwork from India to decorate it with. Such intricately carved teak elements have helped the house stand out then, and now more than ever. The wood is still crisp and undamaged even to this day, not allowing New York’s harsh elements any interference.

Rudyard Kipling, who befriended Lockwood while they were both in India, visited 7 E. 10th St. at least once. The building was sold in 1922 and turned into apartments after 1930. The exterior teak woodwork remains and the building is currently being used by NYU as the Edgar Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life.

Written by agnesbstanton

April 18, 2010 at 10:14 pm

Posted in Townhouse, West Village

1 Fifth Ave.

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Lower Fifth Avenue starts from Washington Square Park and arguably ends at 14th Street. Often called the “Gold Coast” of Greenwich Village, it is home to some of the city’s top buildings, not quite as exclusive as the buildings on Upper Fifth Avenue (60th Street-96th Street respectively), but very prestigious and architecturally sound in their own right.

1 Fifth Avenue was originally built in 1929 as a hotel and therefore was not as restricted in height as residential buildings typically were. Converted into co-op in 1986, it rises 27 floors and is therefore considered a high-rise amidst mainly low and mid-rise surroundings. No doubtingly, the views from the higher floors are one of a kind.

Developer Joseph G. Siegel brought in Helme Corbett as well as Sugarman & Berger as the two architectual firms who would design this building. The most interesting aspect of 1 Fifth is its shaded brick. It is mentioned in Christopher Gray’s book  “New York Streetscapes” that Corbett “gave the four turretlike corners a false projection–darker vertical bands of brick look like shadows cast against the main wall.” I noticed this myself and hope you will too in the photos that I have taken. This particular architectural detail is a rarity in New York City. Serious architects called this fakery, as Corbett was trying to “convincingly imitate angled masonry projections rising between the windows.”

This photo is of Apt. #22AD which in 2009 was put on the market for $6,500,000. It consists of three bedrooms and measures 2200sf. Out of my price range by far, but a pleasure to look at.

Ed Limato a famous Hollywood Agent used to live at 1 Fifth and during the 1970’s could be caught having dinner with Richard Gere at the restaurant downstairs which shared the name  of “1 Fifth” with the building. At present the restaurant “Otto” occupies the ground space.

Written by agnesbstanton

April 17, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Posted in Co-ops, West Village

70 W. 10th St. “Patchin Place”

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Patchin Place was once part of Sir Peter Warren’s farm who sold it to Samuel Milligan the original owner of Milligan Place. When Milligan’s daughter Isobel married Aaron Patchin, this land was given to them as a gift and is now therefore called Patchin Place.

This tiny gated enclave, made up of ten brick row-houses built in 1848, originally housed waiters who worked for the high-society Brevoort Hotel on 5th Avenue. During the first half of the 20th Century, Patchin Place was home to many writers and artists such as E.E. Cummings who reportedly lived in this cul-de-sac after escaping from army life. This is where he threw himself into writing, painting, and a little debauchery. Patchin Place was also once home to Theodore Dreiser as well as Djuna Barnes, who lived in Patchin Place for 42 years. Djuna Barnes and E.E. Cummings were friends and both would shout from their windows to each other especially Cummings to Barnes “Are you still alive, Djuna”? She was known to be a recluse. Barnes would remain a resident until her death in 1982. One can make the comparison that this artist’s colony was the New York equivalent to Paris’ Le Bateau-Lavoir.

Since the 1990’s, Patchin Place has laughingly become “therapy row” as it is now a popular place for psychotherapist’s offices. It retains one of only two gas street lamps known to still  exist in New York City. It’s the only one that continues to give off light, although the light is now powered by electricity instead of gas.

Written by agnesbstanton

April 15, 2010 at 1:08 pm

Milligan Place

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Located on 6th Ave. close to W. 10th St. this little nock is all too easy to miss.  There is no actual street sign, and the only indication that this is in fact Milligan Place, is the cast-iron name on the gate. To enter you must have a key or know someone that lives in one of the four buildings on the inside. The original owner of this property was Samuel Milligan and the four buildings were originally built around 1850. One of the notable residents of Milligan Place was Eugene O’Neill, the famed playwright and Nobel Laureate.

Photo by: Abbott, Berenice March 20, 1936

Written by agnesbstanton

April 14, 2010 at 7:27 pm