By Brian J Pape, AIA
A map that captures a moment, as all maps do, but in a simple and fun way, highlighting some historical structures, is part of the Brooklyn Historical Society Library’s new digital collection.
Do you think you know Greenwich Village? Ask yourself if you can identify the locations on the map above, and which of the sites still exist today.
We are fortunate that the Village residents have a strong preservation attitude, so that many structures have been repurposed instead of demolished. On this map, starting at the upper right-hand quadrant and moving generally clockwise, the “Society Library” was transformed into The Public Theater, and Wanamaker’s warehouse is now office and commercial spaces, (the smaller department store building burned down in the 1950s). NYU remodeled the former industrial loft buildings in that neighborhood. Further down, the “Ellin Prince Speyer Hospital for Animals” is now mixed-use residential units.
Swinging over to the left side, the “Federal Building/US Navy 3rd Naval Dist. and PO” is now the Archive rental apartment building. Moving towards the middle of the map, the “Northern Dispensary” on Waverly Place still sits empty, waiting for an appropriate re-use, while the nearby “Washington Sq. M.E. Church” and the “Greenwich Presbyterian Church” have had their interiors transformed into apartments.
Up at the top-center, we see “Hearns” on West 14th Street, one of the more popular department stores in the city until acquired by a corporate chain of stores; without proper documentation, it’s hard to know if the building continues to serve smaller commercial enterprises on this stretch.
Of course, we have lost some of the highlighted structures. The “House where Washington Irving and Mark Twain Lived —21 5th Ave.” is now where the modern Brevoort apartment building is located. “Our Lady of Mercy Chapel” and “Provincetown Playhouse” have been replaced by NYU buildings. “Spring Street Church,” “Our Lady of Vilna Church,” and the “Duane M.E. Church” have been demolished for new buildings near Broome Street.
Back at the top, the “Chapel of the Comforter” is gone, and the “9th Regt. Armory and Civic Repertory Theater” is now a modern YMCA building. Finally, “St. Vincent’s Hospital” was lost, replaced by luxury condo buildings.
Nevertheless, Greenwich Village still has a lot of historic and new structures to appreciate. Enjoy a walk around.
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