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Greenwich Village, Manhattan

Greenwich Village or "The Village" extends from Houston north to West 14th Street and from Broadway west to the Hudson River.

Greenwich is Anglicized from the Dutch Greenwijck (meaning pine district) into the same name as the borough of London.

Greenwich Village May, 1868
New York City Department of Records

Greenwich Village has many streets named for Revolutionary War heroes:

Alexander McDougall
New York Public Library

  • MacDougal Street - named for Alexander McDougall (1731-1786) a leader of the Sons of Liberty, major general in the Continental Army, a NY State Senator and the first President of New York Bank.

    Hugh Mercer
    New York Public Library
  • Mercer Street - named for Hugh Mercer (1726-1777) a Brigadier General and close friend of George Washington. Died as a result of wounds received in the Battle of Princeton.

  • Thompson Street - named for William Thompson (1736-1781) a Brigadier General of the War.
David Wooster
New York Public Library

  • Wooster Street - named for David Wooster (1711-1777) a General of the War.

  • Greene Street - named for Nathanael Greene (1742-1786)  a General of the War.
  • LaGuardia Place - named for Fiorello H. LaGuardia, mayor of New York City from 1934-1945.  Laguardia Place was formerly named Laurens Street named for Henry Laurens (1724-1792) a delegate to the 2nd Continental Congress and operator of the largest slave trading house in North America in Charleston, South Carolina selling over 8,000 enslaved Africans.
  • Sullivan Street - named for John Sullivan (1740-1795) a General in the Revolutionary War, a judge and delegate of the Continental Congress.
  • West 3rd Street - was formerly named Amity Street.
  • Bleecker Street (between Mercer Street and Greene Street) was formerly named LeRoy Place for prominent international trader Jacob LeRoy.
  • Greenwich Avenue - formerly named Greenwich Lane.


6th Avenue at Minetta Street (May 14, 1941)
Prior to Manetta Triangle
New York Public Library
Along 6th Avenue there is a Minetta Lane, Minetta Green and Minetta Triangle named for Minetta Brook which divided the island and connected the East River to the Hudson River.  Minetta was flush with trout and surrounded by dense forest.  Natives called it Manette or Devil's Water. The Dutch called it Bestevaer's Killetje which became Anglicized into Bestavers Rivulet.  As development spread northward, the brook was diverted beneath Washington Square.  Minetta Street and intersecting Minetta Place are named for the Brook that runs directly below.  In the lobby of the apartment building at 2 Fifth Avenue is a clear tube through which Minetta Brook used to bubble up into from the ground.  The pavement of Minetta Green is etched with fish as once swam here.  Several families of freed slaves, released by the Dutch, established farms and homes along the Minetta Brook as early as 1644.

2-6 Minetta Street November 21, 1935
New York Public Library

African New Yorkers were first granted conditional freedom and land grants in 1644.  The Dutch land grants were given directly after Kieft's War - a brutal outburst of violence where the Dutch found their colonial enterprise nearly eliminated by Native American warriors.  By settling Africans on the outskirts of the City, Africans would be the first to be attacked, serving as a buffer to protect the City. The area began to be referred to as the Land of the Blacks.

With African Americans continuing to settle here in the 18th and 19th centuries, the area then became known as Little Africa.  A New York Times article of 1910 states "In Minetta Street and Minetta Lane the last of the Cornelia Street colored colony remains entrenched."

Junction of Cornelia Street, 6th Avenue and 4th Street March 20, 1907
Museum of the CIty of New York

Washington Square served as potter's field from 1797 to 1823.


The Church of St. Luke in the Fields at 487 Hudson Street was founded in 1820 on farmland donated by Trinity Church.  The name was chosen to evoke the pastoral quality of the area.  In the late 1880s, as the neighborhood becomes predominantly poor and composed of immigrants, the congregation moves north to West 141st Street and St. Luke in the Fields becomes a chapel of Trinity Church.  St. Luke's regains their independence from Trinity Church in 1976.  The Church was damaged twice by fire, in 1886 and 1981.  The latter required restoration and reconstruction and was complete in 1985.


Stonewall Inn 1938
New York Public Library

Stonewall Inn or Stonewall was originally constructed between 1843 and 1846 as stables.  In 1930, the stables are converted to a restaurant.  The restaurant was gutted by a fire in the mid-1960s.  On March 18, 1967 the Stonewall Inn reopens as the largest gay establishment in the United States at the time.  The riots begin on June 28, 1969.  The Inn closed in late 1969, a few months after the riots.


Leon Lowenstein Clinic of the St. Vincent's Hospital
(7th Avenue South between 11 & 12th Streets)
Library of Congress
Saint Vincent's Catholic Medical Center was founded in 1848, and named for St. Vincent de Paul a 17th Century French priest whose congregation of Daughters of Charity inspired the founding of the Sisters of Charity by St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in 1809.  Four sisters were sent to New York City to begin a charity hospital for the poor and disadvantaged.  Beginning as a thirty bed hospital in a small brick house on West 13th Street and growing to a 758 bed hospital at 7th Avenue and Greenwich Avenue.  Due to rising health care costs, increasing administrative costs and other financial pressures, the board of directors voted to close inpatient services and sell outpatient services to other systems on April 6th, 2010.  On April 30th, 2010 at 8:00 am, after 161 years of service, the emergency room of St. Vincent's closed - shutting down the hospital.  The Shutdown triggered an investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney for being closed under suspicious conditions.

St. Vincent's Hospital, Elizabeth Seton Building
151-167 West Eleventh Street
Library of Congress


Jefferson Market Court October 21, 1935
Museum of the City of New York

The Jefferson Market Branch of the New York Public Library at 425 6th Avenue was built from 1874-1877 as the Third Judicial District Courthouse.  It ceased use as a courthouse in 1945.  Slated for demolition, the City reused it as the public library through pleas by local residents.

105 Mercer Street
Beyond My Ken

105 Mercer Street was built in 1819, in the Federalist Style, for Mary Boddy a seamstress.  As the neighborhood began to change, it served as a brothel by the mid-1800s.  By 1900, the area changed again, from Red Light District to an area of light manufacturing - choked with trucks, workmen and debris.


Sheridan Square in 1908
Museum of the City of New York
The Aldermanic Committee on Land, Places, and Public Parks announced in 1896 to officially name the strip of land created by the intersection of Washington Place, West 4th Street, and Barrow Street as Sheridan Square.  The square was named for General Philip Sheridan the commander of the Army of the Shenandoah during the Civil War.  In 1918, the IRT subway station at Christopher Street/ Sheridan Square opened.  Sculptor Joseph P. Pollia's creation of the bronze statue of General Sheridan was erected in nearby Christopher Park in 1936.

In 1923, a speakeasy opens off 6th avenue and 4th Street named Redhead in a basement run by cousins Jack Kriendler and Charles E. Berns during the prohibition era.  It was one of 32,000 speakeasies operating in New York City at the time.  After being gutted by a fire, the speakeasy moves to the basement of 88 Washington Place and changes names to the Fronton.  After a year, the property was condemned for the construction of the West 4th subway station. In 1928, the cousins move to 21 West 52nd Street to begin a new speakeasy, the 21 Club.

6th Avenue and 4th Street (March 10, 1907)
Museum of the City of New York

Village Vanguard at 178 7th Avenue South is a jazz club first opened February 22, 1938 that continues in operation today.

Greenwich Village hosted the first racially integrated nightclub.  In 1938 Cafe Society opened at 1 Sheridan Square.  Performers included Nat King Cole, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and more.


Father Demo Square, at the intersection of Bleecker Street and Sixth Avenue was named in 1941 for Father Antonio Demo a New York City priest and civic activist of the Village.

The Almanac Singers, which included Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Bess Lomax and Lee Hays lived at 130 West 10th Street in 1941 - calling their residence the "Almanac House" and earning rent money from informal basement concerts charging their audience $0.35 each.  Rent was $100 a month.

In the 1950s, Greenwich Village becomes the center of the Beat generation, becoming influential for Truman Capote, Maya Angelou, Dylan Thomas, and more.  It was also home to the radical anti-war movement the Weather Underground.

Brevoort Hotel (1915)
Museum of the City of New York

Buddy Holly (1936-1959) lived at the Brevoort Apartments at 11 Fifth Avenue which had recently replaced the Brevoort Hotel.  He moved into the apartments in 1958 and paid $1,000 a month for rent.  The building has since converted to co-op.

412-414 Avenue of the Americas (1980s)
New York City Department of Records
414 Sixth Avenue between 8th and 9th Streets is in the Beaux-Arts style.  It was built in 1902 and is the site of Bigelow's Pharmacy - the oldest apothecary in the nation.  It has been in business for over 160 years and included a customer list of Thomas Edison, Mark Twain and Eleanor Roosevelt.

New York University was originally named the University of the City of New York.  Although New York University has had a presence in the Washington Square area since the 1830s, the campus has centered around the park since the 1970s.  Other universities in the vicinity include The New School, Cooper Union and Cardozo School of Law.

Kenny Castaway's at 157 Bleecker Street hosted early performances of Bruce Springsteen in the early 1970s.  In the late 1800s however, it was the address of The Slide - a bar that catered to men in drag.  At 183 Bleecker Street is 1849 Restaurant but in the early 19th century it was the Black Rabbit known for its scandalous sex shows.  At 153 Bleecker Street was Black and Tan in the late 1800s, a bar of mixed racial encounters - highly frowned upon behavior.

Today, the Village remains home to many celebrities including Emma Stone, Uma Thurman, Marc Jacobs, Anderson Cooper, Edward Norton and more.


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