New York Songlines: 18th Street

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HUDSON RIVER



Chelsea Piers

Chelsea Piers by kwsnyc, on Flickr

A waterfront complex designed by Warren & Wetmore and opened in 1910, these piers were a major hub for both freight and passenger liners; many immigrants actually docked here first before being taken by ferry to Ellis Island. Troops departed from here to the European front in both world wars. Chelsea Piers by edenpictures, on Flickr

As passengers took to the air and freight traffic shifted to New Jersey, the Chelsea Piers declined, until by the 1980s they were almost demolished for the West Side Highway project. When that fell through, the piers were turned over to a private entity, Chelsea Piers Management, for development into a sports complex--which opened in stages starting in 1995.

Pier 59

IMG_6366 by psycht, on Flickr

Houses Chelsea Piers' Golf Club. The Ice Theatre of New York is also based here.


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High Line Park

High Line Bend by edenpictures, on Flickr

Bridging the street here is a disused elevated railroad that was used to transport freight along the Westside waterfront, replacing the street-level tracks at 10th and 11th avenues that earned those roads the nickname "Death Avenue." Built in 1929 at a cost of $150 million (more than $2 billion in today's dollars), it originally stretched from 35th Street to St. John's Park Terminal, now the Holland Tunnel rotary.

Partially torn down in 1960 and abandoned in 1980, it now stretches from Gansevoort almost to 34th--mostly running mid-block, so built to avoid dominating an avenue with an elevated platform. In its abandonment, the High Line became something of a natural wonder, overgrown with weeds and even trees, accessible only to those who risked trespassing on CSX Railroad property.

In 2009 it was opened to the public as New York City's newest park; it truly transforms its neighborhood and hence the city, though it lost some of the World Without Us quality that was its original appeal.

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IAC Building

IAC Building by edenpictures, on Flickr

555 (corner): Star architect Frank Gehry's first major building serves as the headquarters of Barry Diller's InterActive Corp. The newsite Daily Beast has its offices here, as did its sibling outlet Newsweek when it ceased print publication.

515: Was The Roxy, longtime night club that started out in 1978 as a roller rink. Named for Samuel "Roxy" Rothapfel's fancy 1920s' movie theater on 50th Street. A key venue for disco and hip hop. Closed in 2007. I saw Trip Shakespeare here with a woman I had a crush on--a great show.

511: Hauser & Wirth gallery

High Line Park









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South:

Corner (128 10th Ave): Star on 18 Diner

Fulton Houses

Robert Fulton Houses (Chelsea) by JasonParis, on Flickr

Eleven NYCHA buildings with 945 apartments, completed 1965. Named for Robert Fulton, inventor of the first practical steamship and the first usable submarine.

456: Petzel Gallery, international art







436: Was the address of Off Center, an experimental theater company.




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Corner (130 10th Ave): La Luncheonette is pretty pricey for a luncheonette. (I guess that's what "La" means.) 10th Avenue & West 18th Street by edenpictures, on Flickr

463: Brick stable built c. 1880, along with its neighbor to the east. When Berenice Abbott photographed it in 1938, it was a "bar/restaurant" serving dockworkers and sailors. Now a (cute) private residence.

461: This former stable was a junk shop in 1938. FourFiveNine & Chelsea Modern by Lauren Manning, on Flickr

459: An asymetric, plastic-looking (not necessarily in a bad way) black-and-white condo designed by Della Valle Bernheimer and completed in 2009.

447: Chelsea Modern, a 47-unit condo with a zig-zagging blue-glass facade, designed by Audrey Matlock. Opened 2009. JUN Gallery on ground floor.


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356: Michael Callen-Audre Lorde Community Health Center; serves the LGBT community's AIDS- and non-AIDS-related medical needs. Callen was a singer/songwriter who died from (and organized against) AIDS; Lorde was a poet, a black lesbian feminist who died of cancer.



Theater Breaking Through Barriers

306: Founded in 1986 as Theater by the Blind. In 2008 it expanded its mission to include spotlighting artists with all types of physical disabilites.

Corner (159 8th Ave): Was Eighteenth and Eighth Restaurant

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351: Bayard Rustin High School for the Humanities/Humanities Preperatory Academy. Was Straubenmuller Textile High School.

331: Used to be the address of Animal Talent Scouts. 161 Eighth Avenue by edenpictures, on Flickr

Corner (161 8th Ave): Brooklyn Industries clothing


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Corner (160 8th Ave): The Viceroy

250: Liberty High School, 9th grade for new immigrants

246: Westville, popular veggie-friendly American

236: Barney's Co-Op; there used to be a lot more to this upscale department store in the neighborhood. The building was the wagon house of the Siegel-Cooper department store, from which delivery wagons would race to deliver merchandise to the "Big Store's" upscale customers. Note "S.C." logo, winged globes.

228: El Cocotero, Venezuelan








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257: Heart of Chelsea Animal Hospital

251: City Cakes

243: Christine Burgin Gallery

Chadwin House Apartments

Chadwin House by edenpictures, on Flickr

Corner (140 7th Ave): Low, stripey apartment building from 1962 is kind of ugly, but also kind of compelling. The doorman, when asked, did not know who Chadwin was.


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Yves

Yves by edenpictures, on Flickr

166 (corner): A luxury condo building completed in 2008 with a striking blue-glass prismatic facade. It replaced a red-brick building that had served variously as a stable and a Presbyterian mission school, and most recently as a fancy Italian restaurant called Le Madri ("The Mothers"); attempts by Community Board 4 to landmark the structure were spurned by the Landmarks Commission. Hellmuth Building by edenpictures, on Flickr

154: The Hellmuth Building has a spooky name and distinctive Art Nouveau brackets. Charles Hellmuth made printers' ink here. Built 1906, designed by Adolph Schoeller.

142: New York Aikikai, eastern HQ of the U.S. Aikido Federation.

126-140: Most of these were originally stables, built 1864-65:

138: Original Vintage Posters.

136: Carriage House, hip restaurant with a 1950s desert motif. Brooks Brothers used to own this.

134: Movie Star News, featuring film stills and Betty Page videos. This business was founded by Irving Klaw, pin-up pioneer.

132: A mysterious disease killed several dozen horses in one day in October 1872, including one stabled here. 130: Props, Displays & Interiors; also Heart Art. 128: Nagel Roofing, since 1919.

120: Carlyle Collection, sofabeds

108: Amuse, American tapas, was the spendy Tonic. The space is said to have been a hangout for silent-movie actors.

104: Kudos Deli 100 West 18th Street by edenpictures, on Flickr



Corner (100 W. 18th): 100 West 18th is a 2007 luxury condo with an interestingly angled facade. Was Parade of Shoes.

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Corner: Con Edison substation




153: Fisch for the Hip, consignment store

151: Fido's Cafe, dog restaurant

145: Was the 18th Street Playhouse, now the New York Dog Spa & Hotel. Metropolitan Pavillion by edenpictures, on Flickr

125: Metropolitan Pavilion, exhibition/event space, was built in 1896 as a five-story stable complex for the B. Altman department store, designed by Kimball & Thompson in the Spanish Renaissance style. (The huge stables were needed to keep B. Altman's "free delivery" promise.) It was remodeled as an event space in 1998.

Earlier on this site was the Germania Brewery, which failed in 1893.




115: Henry Holt and Company, the publishing house founded in 1866, which has printed such authors as Robert Louis Stevenson, H.G. Wells, Ivan Turgenev, Robert Frost, Hermann Hesse and Norman Mailer. Today its roster includes Paul Auster, Thomas Pynchon, Salman Rushdie and Barbara Ehrenreich.








107: Telegraphe Cafe was Petite Abeille, Belgian mini-chain




B. Altman on Ladies Mile by edenpictures, on Flickr

Corner (621 6th Ave): Was B. Altman (1876-1906), the "Palace of Trade." Now Today's Man.


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Price Building by edenpictures, on Flickr

Corner (610 6th Ave): The Price Building houses one of Old Navy's flagship stores.

The back part of the Old Navy building bears the name McCrorey Building.

44: A.I. Friedman, frames et al

42: Adorama, "the photography people." Great prices on prints.

32: Drexel Heritage Home Inspirations

30: Incognito Bakery

26: Latin American Coffee Shop

18-22: Chat 'N Ciao cafe

Books of Wonder

_MG_1072.jpg

16: A great children’s bookstore--for kids and collectors both--founded in 1980. Has a special fondness for Frank Baum and Edith Nesbit. Includes Birdbath, eco-friendly bakery.

14: Pizza Paradise

12: Academy Book Store and Records is a great place to sell CDs (and buy, too).

10: ANC NY, antiques

8: OOTOYA Chelsea, U.S. branch of a Japanese izakaya chain--Japanese pub food. Was Chef & Company, caterer/bakery.

4: International Martial Arts Center 126 Fifth Avenue by edenpictures, on Flickr

Corner (126 5th Ave): Gap Kids is in a 15-story Robert Maynicke building completed in 1900. Built on the site of the Hotel de Logerot, owned by Richard de Logerot, the Marquis de Croisic.

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"The Big Store"

The Big Store by edenpictures, on Flickr

Corner (616 6th Ave): Was Siegel-Cooper, "The Big Store--a City in Itself" (1896-1914). In its day, the center of NYC shopping; "meet me at the fountain" was a catch phrase, referring to the store's centerpiece, which featured Daniel Chester French's statue of Siegel-Cooper Entrance by edenpictures, on Flickr The Republic (today in California's Forest Lawn Cemetery). Henry Siegal is credited with introducing the free sample.

In the 1980s, a youth center called The Door was based here. Now Bed Bath & Beyond, a superstore featured on Sex and the City, as well as Filene's Basement and TJ Max.

23: The Cluett Building has PaperAccess.com on the ground floor.



13: Skyline Books & Records, specializing in art, photography and literary editions.

7: Print Icon, printing supplies

3: St Ann Building, 1896 building by Cleverdon & Putzel, houses City Bakery; best salad bar in town, says Village Voice. Carrie and Samantha have lunch here on Sex and the City. Was Zip City microbrewery. 130 Fifth Avenue by edenpictures, on Flickr

Corner (130 5th Ave): Express is in an 11-story Robert Maynicke building, built in 1903. It's on the site of Chickering Hall, auditorium built by the Chickering Piano Company, site of lectures by Oscar Wilde and Matthew Arnold. Here Alexander Graham Bell made the first interstate telephone call in 1877--to New Brunswick, New Jersey. Today, the offices of Interbrand are here--consultants to everyone from Walmart to Oxfam.


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Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble Flagship by edenpictures, on Flickr

Corner (105 5th Ave): This 11-story building was built in 1901 to a Robert Maynicke design. The bookstore chain started a branch here in 1932, and it became the corporate flagship. The mansion of steamship tycoon Marshall O. Roberts used to be here; he owned the painting Washington Crossing the Delaware.

8: Devi, fancy Indian, makes even okra taste good, claims Time Out. "Devi" is the female divine principle in Hinduism.

12: Rafael Decorators

Engine Co. 14

14: FDNY company housed in a 1890s Renaissance Revival firehouse designed by Napoleon Lebrun.

28: The site of actor Edwin Booth's home from 1862-65; his brother, fellow actor and assassin John Wilkes Booth, often stayed with him here.

Paragon Sporting Goods

Paragon Sporting Goods by edenpictures, on Flickr

Corner (867 Broadway):

Founded 1908, in a brick building that dates to 1882. In the novel Drowned Hopes by Donald Westlake, a gang of criminals buys scuba gear here so they can rob a flooded town.

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111 Fifth Avenue by edenpictures, on Flickr

Corner (111 5th Ave): Swedish retailer H & M (replacing Daffy's 5th Avenue) is in a stately 13-story building from 1895 designed by William Schickel & Company (who also did the Stuyvesant Polyclinic). Built on the site of financier August Belmont Jr.'s mansion, the first in the city to have a private ballroom. Belmont helped underwrite NY subway construction, and owned his own private subway car; his hobby was horse-racing--he bred Man o' War--and the Belmont Stakes are named for him.

9: Rosa Mexicano, the downtown branch of an acclaimed mini-chain, was America, a U.S.-themed restaurant.

15: Tarallucci e Vino, cafe, was XYZ Total Home, an alternative to ABC Carpets.






Arnold Constable Building by edenpictures, on Flickr

Corner (873 Broadway): The building housing New Andy's Deli and spanning this entire block used to be the Arnold Constable department store (1869-1914); founded by Aaron Arnold and son-in-law James Constable, it offered "Everything From Cradle to Grave." Mary Todd Lincoln was a frequent customer, along with Carnegies, Rockefellers and Morgans.


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Hawes Building

Corner (872 Broadway): Hawes Building houses the Dynasty Deli.

28: Lumber Liquidators was Quisqueyana Cigars Cafe; before that a novelty shop, part of a now-vanished novelty district.



The rear of the Century Building, now occupied by Barnes & Noble. 220 Park Avenue South by edenpictures, on Flickr

Corner (220 Park Ave S): Haru, Japanese, was Choice, American; earlier Nong and Aleutia-- four restaurants since the Songlines started in 2001. In the Bradley Building, an attractive brick-and-limestone structure with nine floors, built c. 1900.

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McIntyre Building by edenpictures, on Flickr

Corner (874 Broadway): Klein Sleep is in MacIntyre Building (1892); note name behind awning. Over-the-top tower was first occupied by McLoughlin Bros., pioneering children's book and game company (1892-98).

35: Was Chicama, Pan-Latin

37: Djoniba Dance & Drum Center is described by the Voice as "the best dance studio" in town.

Old Town Bar & Grill

Old Town Sign by edenpictures, on Flickr

45: Opened in 1892 as Veimieske's; in the 1920s, it was Craig's Restaurant, a speakeasy under Tammany Hall protection--a hangout for Al Smith. Since Prohibition ended in 1933, it's been known as the Old Town Bar. It was used as the exterior of Riff's Bar on the TV series Mad About You.

Corner: Was Alkit Pro Camera, est. 1934.


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South:

215 Park Avenue South by edenpictures, on Flickr

Corner (215 Park Ave S): Site of the Clarendon Hotel, built 1846, designed by James Renwick and financed by William B. Astor. Peter Cooper and Cyrus Field met here in 1854 with other investors to raise money for the trans-Atlantic telegraph cable. The first member of the Russian royal family to visit the United States, Grand Duke Alexis, stayed here in 1871 on his way West to hunt bison. Composer Anton Dvorak stayed here while his house on 17th Street was being prepared. The hip-hop magazine The Source has its offices in the present building, an impressive 1914 structure by Maynicke & Franke.






118: Sarah Feldman House The (Other) Gramercy by edenpictures, on Flickr

Corner (61 Irving): This apartment building calls itself The Gramercy, though there's a more famous The Gramercy actually on Gramercy Park East, at 20th Street.

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American Woolen Building by edenpictures, on Flickr

Corner (225 Park Ave S): The American Woolen Building is a 1909 structure designed by R.H. Robertson for the American Woolen Company; note ram heads. Now home to the magazine Institutional Investor. Wildwood BBQ is on the ground floor, in the space that used to be Barca 18 and Park Avalon. The rooftop was used in Spider-Man 2.


115: Zen Palate, acclaimed vegan restaurant. Used to be Sushi Desse.

119: Los Dos Molinos ("the two windmills"), spicy Mexican

123: Paul & Jimmy's Ristorante Italiano; since 1950, though this address was Sparks Pub South in 1966.

65 Irving Place by edenpictures, on Flickr

Corner (65 Irving): Built c. 1846; adapted for commercial use in 1914. Used to house Keith Skeel Antiques, a beautiful shop that seems to have relocated to London in 2007.


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130: Gramercy Plaza apartments

136: Site of Calvert Vaux's home, where he and Frederick Law Olmstead planned the landscaping of Central Park in 1857-58.


















142: Site of Stuyvesant Apartments (1869), considered the first true apartment building in U.S.; it resembled the building across the street at No. 143. It was designed by Richard Morris Hunt and financed by Rutherford Stuyvesant, who changed his name from Stuyvesant Rutherford in order to inherit money. Poets Elinor Wylie and William Rose Benet lived here after their 1923 marriage.

150 (corner): Author Herman Melville lived briefly at this address in 1862.

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Pete's Tavern

Pete's Tavern by _rockinfree, on Flickr

129 (cor- ner): Lo- cated in an 1829 build- ing that may have been serving liquor as early as 1852, which even so would not make it the oldest drinking establishment in the city. The first official saloon here, however, seems to have opened in 1864. NYC: Pete's Tavern by wallyg, on Flickr It survived Prohibition by posing as a flower shop.

Originally called the Portman Hotel, it was bought in 1899 by Tom and John Healy, and it was under the name Healy's that it was a favorite hangout of O. Henry's. (It appears in the writer's "The Lost Blend" as "Kenealy's," and the idea for "The Gift of the Magi" is said to have occurred in booth No. 2.) Ludwig Bemelmans attests that he wrote the first lines of Madeline here. Sara in Pete's Tavern by jonanamary, on Flickr

The interior has been featured in Ragtime, Endless Love and Seinfeld, not to mention a number of beer commercials.

135-143: Date to 1855.

145-151: Built 1853-54.

Corner (206 3rd Ave): Sunburst Espresso Bar


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Park Towers

Park Towers by edenpictures, on Flickr

Corner (197 3rd Ave): At 30 stories, the tallest thing in the neighborhood. Park Towers Medical Plaza on ground floor.

206: This building was the home of Socialist Norman Thomas (1923-39) during his first three (of six) runs for president. Like 208 and 210, it was built c. 1850.

212: This house was built for William Dodge, a founder of the Phelps Dodge copper company and a supporter of the YMCA, around 1849-50.

214-216: These Greek Revival houses, from 1842-43, are the oldest in the Stuyvesant Square Historic District. They were also built for William Dodge, who has a statue in Bryant Park.

218: This four-story Italianate house was built c. 1856-57. It now houses the Joyce Mertz-Gilmore Foundation, a progressive philanthropy.

220-226: These narrow, four-story Italianate brick houses went up in 1869.

228-234: Built c. 1850 with mixed Italianate and Greek Revival features.

Rutherford Place Apartments

Corner (303-305 2nd Ave): Was New York Lying-In Hospital (1899); in the early 20th Century, 60 percent of all NYC hospital births were here. (Check out the dancing babies on the facade.) Wesley Snipes, Judd Nelson and David Lee Roth have all called this their home.

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Gramercy Park Towers

Gramercy Park Towers by edenpictures, on Flickr

Corner (205 3rd Ave): An awful white-brick apartment tower houses Liberty Travel, Alpine Cleaners.




211: A number of writers have lived in this building; notably, Frank McCourt wrote Angela's Ashes here while he was teaching at the old Stuyvesant High School, and Vincent Patrick wrote The Pope of Greenwich Village.



















Corner (311 2nd Ave): Lantern, classy Thai, was Pongsri Thai, more old-school.


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Hospital for Joint Diseases

Hospital for Joint Diseases by edenpictures, on Flickr

Corner: Founded in 1905, the hospital has been here since 1979.

312: This was the address (and possibly the actual house) of James W. Blake, who wrote "East Side, West Side" (aka "The Sidewalks of New York"), one of the best-known songs about New York, here in 1894. The people mentioned in the song--"Jackey Krause the baker," "pretty Nellie Shannon" and so on--were based on real characters from the neighborhood.

318: This building has numerous gargoyles affixed to its facade--sort of a permanent Halloween look. The person who lives here is sort of a gargoyle himself. In 1966, Yippie Paul Krassner lived here.

326-330: With deep yards and cast-iron verandas, these landmarked 1853 Italianate row houses bring a taste of New Orleans to Manhattan.

Corner: Karpas Health Information Center, part of Beth Israel.

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Posto by redbuildinggroup, on Flickr

Corner (310 2nd Ave): Posto, great thin-crust pizza; a spin-off of Alphabet City's Gruppo. Used to be Tasty Corner, Chinese.

301: Famous Pita & Pizza

303: This brownstone was the home, from 1859 until 1872, of Sarah Willis, who under the pseudonym Fanny Fern was America's first female columnist and an early proponent of women's rights.

309: Beautiful glass above the door and ground-floor windows.


325: Musician Stevie Wonder has lived here.

327: Musician Wynton Marsalis has lived here.


Corner (313 1st Ave): Quigley's was Stuyvesant Town Cafe


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Stuyvesant Town

Stuyvesant town by -AX-, on Flickr

Built in the late 1940s by Met Life Insurance Co. as affordable housing for World War II vets; the private development had a great deal of public support, organized by city power broker Robert Moses. Eighteen city blocks containing 600 buildings were leveled for the project. Stuyvesant Town, NYC. by Matthew Kraus, on Flickr

When Met Life sold it, along with Peter Cooper Village -- a total of 110 apartment buildings -- for $5.4 billion in 2006, it was reportedly the biggest real estate transaction in history...and perhaps the worst, since it was negotiated just as the housing bubble was about to pop. The purchaser was Tishman Speyer Properties, a real estate group that owned Rockefeller Center, among other things. Failing in a scheme to convert rent-stablized apartments to market rate, Tishman Speyer turned over the property to its creditors in 2010 to avoid bankruptcy.

Built on the site of the notorious Gashouse District, where fumes from chemical plants kept out Summer Sun Shower in Stuyvesant Town by Marianne O'Leary, on Flickr all but the poorest immigrants. The home turf of the Gashouse Gang, a tough crew that specialized in robbing other gangs, since there was so little to steal in their own neighborhood. Stuyvesant Town by AP..., on Flickr

The development is named for Peter Stuyvesant, New Amsterdam's one-legged governor, who owned most of the land in this neighborhood. Autocratic, anti-democratic and intolerant, he was something of a 17th Century Giuliani. Earlier the mansion called Petersfield could be found here, less than one block east of 1st Avenue between 15th and 16th streets. It was the home of Petrus Stuyvesant, a descendant of Peter.

Notable residents of Stuyvesant Town have included writers Frank McCourt, Mary Higgins Clark and David Brooks, Obama adviser David Axelrod and actor Paul Reiser.



          FDR DRIVE          




EAST RIVER









Is your favorite Eighteenth Street spot missing? Write to Jim Naureckas and tell him about it.

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