New York Songlines: Morton Street

West Street | Washington Street | Greenwich Street | Hudson Street | Seventh Avenue South | Bedford Street | Bleecker Street

Named for Gen. Jacob Morton, who commanded the first division of the New York Militia for 20 years in the early 19th Century. When George Washington's first inauguration was short a Bible, it was Morton who went to fetch another one.




HUDSON RIVER





S <===         WEST STREET         ===> N

South:

One Morton Square

1 Morton Square I, by Edenpictures on Flickr

Corner: This glassy 2002 midrise has been home to Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, Daniel Radcliffe and Amy Poehler.





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S <===           WASHINGTON STREET           ===> N

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S <===           GREENWICH STREET           ===> N

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Corner (435 Hudson): En Japanese Brasserie, a multi-level restaurant that recreates a Meiji-era Japanese home. Hudson Garden Center was here.

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Corner (447 Hudson): The front door of the Hudson Clearwater restaurant, on Hudson Street, is made to look like it's boarded up; the real entrance is an unmarked green door on this side of the block.


S <===             HUDSON STREET             ===> N

South:

Corner (436 Hudson): Treehouse

66: 1852 house with a notable bay. Harrison Ford lived here in Working Girl, Winona Ryder in Autumn in New York, and Matthew Broderick in The Night We Never Met.

64: Comedian John Belushi was living here at the time of his death in 1982.












46-52: A row of Anglo-Italianate townhouses from 1852. No. 46 has been owned by Sofia Coppola.

44: Greek Revival building from 1844 was a set for the TV show Naked City. Nobel Prize-winning poet Joseph Brodsky lived here in the 1970s and 1980s.

42: An 1889 building with a charming caryatid.


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Corner (438 Hudson): Henrietta Hudson, popular lesbian bar

65: This is where Julius and Ethel Rosenberg allegedly had their "spy den." While Julius apparently was involved with some kind of espionage, most people now acknowledge that Ethel was not--which means that the government killed an innocent woman.

61: Novelist Henry Roth lived here from 1928-38, in the home of poet and NYU professor Eda Lou Walton. He wrote most of Call It Sleep here. Later, in the 1940s, experimental filmmaker Maya Deren lived here.

59: Outstanding late Federal-style house (1828) with "one of the finest Federal doorways in the Village" (AIA Guide)

55: Art Moderne apartment building was home to playwright Charles Ludlam. Marlon Brando is also said to have lived here with his lover Wally Cox--best remembered today as the voice of Underdog.

Corner (63 Bedford): Was Shopsin's General Store, longtime Village hangout said to be wary of strangers. Calvin Trillin wrote about it in The New Yorker, but declined to give its name or address out of fear of being barred. When it lost its lease, a film was made about owner/chef Kenny Shopsin called I Like Killing Flies. The restaurant moved down the street from here to the corner of Carmine.


S <===           BEDFORD STREET           ===> N

South:

Greenstreets-landscaped traffic island













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27 1/2 Morton Street, by edenpictures on Flickr

27 1/2 (block): AKA 60 Bedford Street. An odd-shaped six-story building from the 1910s. On the ground floor is Doma na Rohu ("Home on the Corner"), a Czech restaurant with Old World charm. From 1997 to 2011, this was Hercules Fancy Grocery, which stocked 400 kinds of beer.

S <===           7TH AVENUE SOUTH           ===> N

The block of Morton Street between 7th Avenue and Bleecker street was transformed into the Turn-of-the-Century Lower East Side for the 1975 film Hester Street.

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4: The address of the Paradise Inn, a speakeasy opened in 1929 by Marie Du Mont (of Marie's Crisis fame), where Admiral Byrd, Sinclair Lewis and Bill Paley are said to have been customers. Kitty Ursula Parrott is said to have written here her strikingly modern best-seller The Ex-Wife (later made into The Divorcee, for which Norma Shearer won an Oscar).

Corner (270 Bleecker): Risotteria, acclaimed rissoto

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1 (corner): In the basement of the building with Bleecker Farm was Studio Henry, where members of what came to be known as the Downtown Scene rehearsed and performed from 1976 to 1984--musicians like Bill Laswell, Fred Frith, Henry Kaiser, John Zorn, Arto Lindsay, Anton Fier, Ned Rothenberg, Bob Ostertag, Wayne Horvitz, Elliott Sharp, Anthony Coleman, Robin Holcomb and many more. Writes John Zorn: "At the time a pet store was above it called Exotic Aquatics, and crickets were always escaping into the basement. This gave all the shows and the live recordings in the space a unique quality.... Every silence was filled with the sound of crickets."


S <===             BLEECKER STREET             ===> N









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

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