New York Songlines: Minetta Lane

Minetta Lane is named for Minetta Brook, whose course it followed from Macdougal Street to the turn at Minetta Street. The name of the waterway was originally Mannette, an Algonquin word translated as "Devil," but presumably related to Manitou, or "Spirit." The Dutch reinterpreted the name as Mintje Kill, which roughly translates as "Little Teeny Stream."

The path that followed the stream was originally known as the Negroes' Causeway, serving an area where "partially freed" slaves were allowed to own land. The area was later known as Little Africa, home to many of New York City's emancipated blacks. In 1896, Stephen Crane wrote that Minetta Lane and Street had until recently been "two of the most enthusiastically murderous thoroughfares in the city." Today they are a surprising oasis of quiet in one of the noisier sections of the Village.

<===         6TH AVENUE         ===>

This used to be the southern endpoint of Sixth Avenue.


Early Spring, Minetta Green by Walking Off the Big Apple, on Flickr

Corner: Minetta Green, a 0.05 acre park.

minetta lane @ minetta st. by llahbocaj, on Flickr

25 (corner): A five-story building from 1940 that destroyed a late 1910s redevelopment by Vincent Pepe.

S <===         MINETTA ST

minetta-lane by dandeluca, on Flickr

5 (corner): Put up by builder David Louderback in 1840. A short wall protects a few square feet of front yard.

3: Also built by Louderback in 1840.

1: Another 1840 Louderback house. Vincent Pepe bought all three of these houses in 1924 and turned them into studio apartments with a common rear garden. Pepe committed suicide in 1935 after being accused of ripping off an investor.

See a 360 degree panorama of this corner.

Minetta Tavern

Corner (113 Macdougal): An Italian restaurant Minetta Tavern by MugurM, on Flickr founded in 1937, it was a meeting place for Ezra Pound, e.e. cummings, Ernest Hemingway, etc. Joe Gould worked on his Oral History of the World here; Minetta's Last Weekend by x-eyedblonde, on Flickr murals depict Village history. Until 1929 it was The Black Rabbit, a speakeasy run by Eve Adams before Eve's Hangout; Eugene O'Neill and Max Bodenheim were customers then. Reader's Digest was founded in the basement in 1923.

The restaurant appears in the movie Jimmy Blue Eyes Bar at Minetta Tavern. Steak review coming soon by killthebird, on Flickr as La Trattoria, a mob-run joint--which is not so far-fetched, given that the owner was busted for running an Ecstasy ring in 2000. In 2008, it was acquired by restauranteur Keith McNally, who planned to switch the menu from Italian to French.




minetta playground by Susan NYC, on Flickr

Corner: Minetta Playground belonged to the city's Department of Transportation as a result of the 6th Avenue subway construction. DoT allowed the Parks Department to develop a playground minetta playground shadows by Susan NYC, on Flickr here in 1935, and in 1953 it was assigned permanently to Parks. The current playground equipment dates to 1997 and was supplied by the corporate hamburger franchise. Minetta Lane by Walking Off the Big Apple, on Flickr

24: Bellavitae, artisanal Italian

Minetta Lane Theatre

18: A former tin can factory was converted into a theater by Larsen-Juster in 1984; the AIA Guide notes the "remarkably sophisticated facade." One of the few remaining off-Broadway theaters in the area. Minetta Lane by uriba, on Flickr

16: An 1899 building notable for the plants spilling out of its windows.

Cafe Wha?

Corner (115 Macdougal): A long-running Greenwich Village club 081102cafe_wha by alanconnor, on Flickr where Bob Dylan had his first NYC gig, and Jimi Hendrix gained fame. Peter, Paul & Mary, Kool and the Gang and Bruce Springsteen are also claimed as former performers, along with comedians Richard Pryor and Bill Cosby.

<===                         MACDOUGAL STREET                         ===>

What am I missing on Minetta Lane? Write to Jim Naureckas and tell him about it.

"Streetscapes: Minetta Lane and Minetta Street," by Christopher Gray

Minetta Street, Greenwich Village Society for Historical Preservation

The Alleys of Greenwich Village at Forgotten New York.

New York Songlines Home.

Sources for the Songlines.