While Minetta Brook has long been hidden from our eyes with streets and buildings, its name carries on in a small section of the Village. From Minetta Street to Minetta Lane and the famous Minetta Tavern, visitors and Villagers alike may not even realize the connection (though we know many do!). Though these places survive today, there was another “Minetta” in the area that no longer does: Minetta Place. Just where was Minetta Place?
According to the 1857 map featured in this article, this small L-shaped street was entered off Minetta Street and was located at the center of the block also bounded by Minetta Lane, Bleecker Street, and Carmine Street (before Sixth Avenue cut through this section of the neighborhood). Five brick dwellings (in pink) stood on one side of Minetta Place, and rear outbuildings (in gray) likely belonging to the row houses fronting Minetta Street existed on the other.
A couple of wonderful photographs available via the Collections Portal of the Museum of the City of New York (MCNY) provide us with a glimpse of what Minetta Place looked like in the early 20th century. While the date of construction is unknown, these vernacular buildings were possibly built as early as the 1830s or 1840s. Each building had a stoop and attic windows. Minetta Place itself appears to have been paved with stone slabs.
At one time, when the area was known as “Little Africa,” many African-Americans were known to have lived in these buildings. One of the MCNY photos shows that by 1914, white families (perhaps Italian immigrants) had moved in. Despite the fact that these buildings were likely crowded tenements, the secluded Minetta Place at least seems to have afforded residents a quiet place to chat with neighbors or play with friends. It also would have brought light and air to the tenement buildings surrounding it.
Today, there appears to be no physical reminder of this forgotten little place, which was replaced by two apartment buildings in 1941. The irregular shapes of these brick apartments does provide for light and air – and some green space – which, in a way, gives us a link to the brick row houses built a century or so earlier.