41: Bruce Kayton reports that
Emma Goldman had a massage parlor at the corner of 17th and
Broadway; it seems likely to have been this 1895 building. Later housed
Partisan Review offices, and the office of
Republic, Pan-Asian noodles--noisy but styley (and affordable)
Heartland Brewery has good beer, fratty crowd
33: The Puma Store replaced Union Square Wine & Spirits
on the ground floor of this 1893 building.
Also known as the Union Building, it was designed
by John Edelmann, Louis Sullivan's mentor. It originally
had a minaret on top, which was removed for
safety reasons. The building housed
Andy Warhol's Factory from 1968 to 1974.
Warhol was shot here, on June 3, 1968,
by crazed playwright Valerie Solanis.
31 (corner): Building with Blue Water Grill,
noted seafood restaurant, housed a bank whose
directors included prominent local
businessmen, including the Tiffany of Tiffany's,
the Sloane of Sloane's, the Arnold of Arnold Constable
and the Steinway of the Steinway piano company.
The building was designed by Bruce Price, the
father of Emily Post. It later served as a Parsons
School of Design dorm. On
September 15, 1984,
Michael Stewart was beaten
to death in front of this building by the NYPD
for the crime of writing with magic marker
on a subway wall. The cops were all acquitted.
Union Square Coffee Shop
29 (corner): Building with turquoise stripes
looks like a diner,
but it's actually a fancy restaurant that's
very popular with the beautiful people. The
Sex and the City girls often ate here.
27: Union Square Ballroom
11-15 (corner): Labor-owned
Amalgamated Bank was a regrettable modernization
of Tiffany's jewelry store (1870-1905), which was
designed by John Kellum to resemble a Venetian palace.
It was given another makeover in 2008-09--with a dark glass facade that reveals the original architecture beneath.
Previously on this lot was James Renwick's Church of the Puritans (1846).
5-9: Spingler Building, an 1896 Romanesque
structure designed by William Hume,
takes its name from Spingler House, a hotel that
previously occupied this spot; it in turn was named
for Henry Spingler, who bought most of Union
Square in 1788, when it was still farmland.
An 1889 Romanesque Revival landmark by
an early and influential example of
Union Square was not named for labor or for the North, but for the fact that
Broadway meets and briefly converges with the Bowery
(now 4th Avenue), once Broadway's rival as NYC's main street. In the
city plan of 1811, Broadway was supposed to be eliminated north of
14th Street, permanently uniting it with Fourth Avenue. Fortunately,
NYC was unable to raise money to reroute Broadway, saving Manhattan
above Downtown from complete predictability.
The parking lot at the north end of the park hosts Union Square
Greenmarket; Manhattan's best farmers' market.
It used to be a meeting place for the
Society for Creative Anachronism.
Union Square has a rich political history: 250,000 gathered to
support the Union during the Civil War (1861), the largest crowd ever assembled
in North America up to that point. Here was the first U.S. labor day
parade (1882), Emma Goldman's arrest for telling unemployed to steal
bread (1893), the funeral march for Triangle Shirtwaist Fire victims
(1911), and protests against Sacco & Vanzetti's execution (1927) and
the Rosenbergs' (1953).
After the destruction of the World Trade
Center, Union Square became the site of an impromptu memorial and
This statue of a mother with two children, by German artist Karl Adolph Donndorf, was installed near the park's western entrance in 1881, a gift from philanthropist Daniel Willis James. I was under the impression that it was intended to promote temperance--it originally had tin cups attachched to it that you could drink from--but according to the Parks Department, James was actually trying to send a message about kindness and charity.
The south end of the square in particular is one of
Manhattan's great public spaces, a haven for political
ranters, skateboarders and breakdancers--and for those
who want to watch the passing scene. The
bicycle rallies used to gather here on the last Friday of every month, before they were broken up by police harassment.
There's a craft fair here every year in December.
This 1986 work was placed here in recognition of Union
Square's history of (mostly) non-violent protest. It depicts Gandhi on his famous Salt March, and provides a path so visitors can walk along with him.
EAST 14TH STREET ===>
The northern boundary of the East Village.
Corner (8 Union Square South): This was the site of the
Paterson Silk Building, built in 1949 for
Crawford Clothing to a design by
Lapidus; it was noted for the glass tower on the
corner with a jauntily angled roof. Bought in
the 1970s by the silk company, which covered
it in signage, its Modernist attractions were
revealed when it was leased by Odd Job Trading
Attempts to save it from demolition
via landmarking failed in 2005. Now on the site
is a luxury building nicknamed
8USS, whose glass corner seems to be a tribute
to the lost Lapidus.
Corner (40 E 14th): DSW, Designer Shoe Warehouse, allows you to find
your own size without a clerk; Forever 21, frighteningly
named designer knockoffs; Whole Foods. Used to be a
Bradlees, which used to be May's, and before that Ohrbach's.
116 (corner): The building with University Place Gourmet Deli (est. 1976) on the ground floor has been used by such left groups as the Socialist Workers Party, Socialist Party and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).
110: Bowlmor Lanes
One of a very few bowling alleys in Manhattan.
On the roof is Pressure, a pressurized dome that
contains the most beautiful bar in New York.
101: University Restaurant; long-time diner
Frank O'Hara lived here from February 1957 until
the summer of 1959.
82: Was the Cedar Tavern, storied bar; see No. 24 below. Closed in 2006 when the building was turned into
80 (corner): In the late 1960s, this building housed the offices of the counter-cultural
Grove Press. On July 26, 1968, a grenade was thrown
through a window here, apparently in retaliation for
Grove's publishing the writings of Cuban revolutionaries. In the
mid-1970s, the offices of The Village Voice.
70: Bradley's Bar & Grill was a jazz
bar, but is now semi-country.
64: Grove Press was located here before it
moved up the street. Now houses the
Institute for Audio Research, a school for sound
75 (corner): Dean & Deluca Cafe, one of several; Felicity
works here in the TV show of the same name. This is the
same building as the Hotel Albert.
67: Patsy's, some of the best pizza in Manhattan.
63 (corner): Formerly the Hotel Albert, named for painter Albert Pinkham Ryder,
whose brother owned it.
Robert Louis Stevenson stayed here,
making a big impression on local writers. Novelist Thomas
Wolfe lived here (1923-26) when he first moved to New York to teach English at NYU.
Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention, Lovin' Spoonful,
Michael Bloomfield and
electronica pioneers the Silver Apples all lived here
at the same time c. 1966. John Phillips wrote "California Dreaming" here.
70: Was The Stirrup, 1960s-era bar.
60: Spice; mod Thai
Apartments named for the Brevoort Hotel, which was on the west end of this block.
On this site, at No. 24, was the original site of Cedar Tavern, where
artists like Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko and Franz Kline gathered in the 1950s. Jackson Pollack
was banned from the place for kicking down the men's room door. The bar was also favored by
beat writers like Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Frank O'Hara and LeRoi Jones. Jack Kerouac was
kicked out at about the same time Pollack was, allegedly for pissing in an ashtray. The bar was
fictionalized by Dawn Powell as "The Golden Spur" in the novel of the same name.
The bar moved up the street in 1963.
33: Built on the site of the Lafayette Hotel, a longtime gathering place of the bohemian elite; it appears as
the "Cafe Julien" in
Dawn Powell's The Wicked Pavilion. The owner of the Lafayette, Raymond Orteig (who also owned the Brevoort),
put up the prize money for flying across the Atlantic that Charles Lindbergh won. Torn down in 1950. On the
ground floor today is the
Knickerbocker Bar & Grill, which claims to have the marble bar on which
Lindbergh signed the contract for his trans-Atlantic flight.
21: Was Dallas BBQ, local chain
Corner (4-26 E 8th): These buildings date back to 1834, but were converted
to fanciful Tudor-style apartments intended for artists by
Harvey Wiley Corbett in 1916. Max Eastman, editor of The
Masses, lived in No. 12 in 1917; from 1930 to 1935, E.B.
White lived at No. 16 on the third and fourth floors;
accused spy Alger Hiss lived at No. 22 from 1947 until
his perjury conviction in 1950.
Corner (1 Washington Square): Novelists Henry James,
William Dean Howells and Edith Wharton are all said to
have lived and worked here at some point.
(I suspect that none of them actually did.)
5-11: The Weinstein Center for
Student Living, an NYU dorm built in the 1960s, was
where Matthew Broderick lived in the 1990 film
Clifford Odets moved to a sparsely furnished room in this building in 1935, just before
the opening of his first play, Awake and Sing!. He stayed here even though the play was a success, explaining:
"All I wanted was two clean rooms to live in, a phonograph, some records, and to buy things for a girl. Nothing more I
Elinor Wylie moved to a previous building at this address after her divorce in 1922.
(The current building was completed in 1930.) Critic
Edmund Wilson moved here in 1923 (from
No. 3 Washington Square) after marrying actress Mary Blair. British occultist
Aleister Crowley lived here in 1918.
Notables who have lived here more recently
include Ricky Lake, Phillip Seymour Hoffman
and Calista Flockhart.
The White Turkey Town House, a restaurant, used to
be on the ground floor. "They used to give out molded-wax white turkeys
at the end of the meal that, if you could bear to crack off the wax, had solid
chocolate insides," a reader recalls. More recently there was
which I miss.
Washington Square Park
Originally a marsh surrounding Minetta Brook,
in the early years of New York this area was used as a graveyard for
slaves and yellow fever victims, a dueling
ground and a place of execution. In 1826
it was designated the Washington
Military Parade Grounds, which soon was
transformed into a public park.
Washington Square was at one point the
center of New York society, later becoming
the unofficial quadrangle of NYU. In
1961 it was the site of protests over a
police crackdown on folksinging, and in
1963, a plan to extend Fifth Avenue through
the park was defeated. The present
landscaping of the park dates to 1971.
a guerrilla fighter, is the hero of Italian reunification. While in exile, he lived briefly in New York City, first on Irving Place and
then on Staten Island.
100 (corner): NYU's Main Building. Built
1895; first seven floors originally
housed the American Bank Note Co.
Building replaced NYU's Old Main, a gothic
tower completed in 1835; the use of prison labor from Sing-Sing
sparked the Stonecutter's Riot in 1834, the first
labor riot in NYC. In the old building, Samuel Colt developed the
revolver and Samuel Morse invented the telegraph;
John William Draper in 1840 took one of the first
photographs of a person on
the roof. Walt Whitman taught poetry here, Winslow
Homer painted here, and architects Alexander Jackson Davis and
Richard Morris Hunt had offices here. Despite this
incredible history, NYU tore down the building because it
decided it could make more money with a new building
whose ground floor could be rented to a bank.
Corner (26 Washington Place): NYU's Press Building
80: This 1879 NYU building,
originally built to house single men,
was named after
Much Ado About Nothing's confirmed
bachelor. Painters Winslow Homer and
Albert Pinkham Ryder lived here,
as did architect William Mead and stained-glass
artist John La Farge. The Sewer Club used to
meet here for undisclosed activities;
Mead's partner Stanford White
was a founder. Now houses the 80 Washington Square East
79 (corner): NYU dorm named for actress Paulette
Goddard, whose fourth husband (following
Charlie Chaplin and Burgess Meredith) was novelist
Erich Maria Remarque, an NYU donor. The hall, called
''dour and delightful'' by the AIA Guide,
combines the 1879 Tuckerman Building (one of
New York's first apartments) and the 1894 Lies and Stern