New York Songlines: Washington Street

West 14th Street | West 13th Street | Little West 12th Street | Gansevoort Street | Horatio Street | Jane Street | West 12th Street | Bethune Street | Bank Street | West 11th Street | Perry Street | Charles Street | West 10th Street | Christopher Street | Barrow Street | Morton Street | Leroy Street | Clarkson Street | West Houston Street

This street was originally part of the Hudson River.







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West:

874 (corner): Diane Von Furstenberg, styley store of the fashion designer








860 (corner): Atlas Meat. One of the dwindling number of wholesale shops that make this the Meatpacking District.

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Corner (432 W 14th): Was Mother, home to many fetish and drag events (Jackie 60, Meat, Clit Club etc.); later the Filter 14 dance club. Now Scoop, hip clothing store that takes up much of the block

869: Dernier Cri ("The Last Cry," i.e. the latest fashion), punky boutique opened 2002

863: Artsee Eyewear, designer glasses

859 (corner): Hogs & Heifers. Perhaps the most authentic expression of the kind of bar where drinks are poured down throats, the bar is danced upon and bras are hung from the ceiling.


W <===         WEST 13TH STREET         ===> E

West:

The Standard

848 (corner): A 20-story boutique hotel built in 2006 to straddle the High Line, then in the process of being transformed into a park. The hotel drew some controversy when it was discovered to be a great place to be an exhibitionist.

High Line Park

Running along the eastern edge of this block 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 its abandonment, the High Line became something of a natural wonder, overgrown with weeds and even trees, accessible only to those who risk trespassing on CSX Railroad property. Activists saved the tracks from demolition and successfully advocated for it to be turned into a park, on the model of Paris' Promenade Plantée. Opened in 2009, the rail line was largely relandscaped using seeds from the wild plants that had colonized the tracks on their own.

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841: Was Diamond Meat Packers

843 (corner): Ottomanelli, one of the last meat businesses

843A: R & W Pork Provisions--it doesn't get more Meatpacking District than this.

























835 (corner): Highline, a stylish three-story bar and restaurant "with a theme of luxury travel." Was the site of The Mineshaft, a hardcore gay sex club that opened in 1976 and was shut down in 1985 in the name of the AIDS epidemic. In the 1960s, a gay disco called The Fawn was here.


W <===         LITTLE WEST 12TH STREET         ===> E

Fort Gansevoort, nicknamed the White Fort, was erected near this spot (then the shoreline) in 1811 in anticipation of war with England.

West:

High Line Park

Block: The reclaimed abandoned elevated line stretches along the western edge of this block before terminating at Gansevoort Street, where there's a stairway to street level. This stretch of the park, planted with birch and serviceberry trees, is known as the Gansevoort Woodland.

844: Hector's Cafe, a little diner under the Highline

826: Was West Washington Meats Co.

820: Was Maggio Beef Co.





Gansevoort Plaza

Corner: The southernmost end of the High Line.

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833 (corner): Royale Prime Meats. Also the address of the Motel Deluxe.

831: Emerald Meat. Not sure that green is what you want people to think of when they think of your meat.

829: Nyack Meat Co.

827: Iris, outlet for an Italian company that makes shoes for top brands; promises to carry the complete line of said brands.

821: An Earnest Cut & Sew, super-expensive custom-made jeans in a workroom-like showroom

819: Was Girlshop, brick-and-mortar outlet for an Internet fashion retailer

Corner (73 Gansevoort): Los Dados ("The Dice"), Mexican with the same chef as Suenos. The space, a former meat locker, was Meet, named when hip restaurants in the meatpacking district were a novelty. Carrie got stood up there by a blind date on Sex and the City.


W <===         GANSEVOORT STREET         ===> E

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807-809 (corner): Banchet Flowers, amazing floral design

805: Auto, out-of-the-ordinary housewares and accessories--est. 1999







799 (corner): Urban Myth Media


W <===         HORATIO STREET         ===> E

West:

Washington Commons

Block: A patch of green with a small waterfall, created by Rockrose Development Corp. in exchange for permission to build a parking garage.








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Corner (95 Jane): A three-story 1849 building that was home to Moore's Wholesale Meats before being vacant for many years; renovated in 2003.


W <===         JANE STREET         ===> E

West:

Block (100 Jane): An eight-story apartment building put up in 1995 by Rockrose Development Corp.











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775 (block): Industria Superstudio, a 1998 cement-floored space that houses the restaurant Barbuto, formerly Braque.












W <===         WEST 12TH STREET         ===> E

West:

Highline Apartments. The High Line elevated train seems to have gone through this space.










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767 (corner): Tortilla Flats, rowdy Tex-Mex restaurant/bar. Carrie and Miranda go on a double date here on Sex and the City.

765: Was the I.C.U. Bar, which often featured live music; formerly Finally Fred's.








W <===         BETHUNE STREET         ===> E

West:

Westbeth

Once the Bell Telephone/Western Electric Laboratories, this full-block complex created or help to develop some of the most important inventions of the 20th Century: the vacuum tube (1912), radar (1919), sound movies (1923) and the digital computer (1937). One of the first demonstrations of television transmission occurred here, April 27, 1927. Westbeth was also the original home of the NBC radio network.

The complex was converted to an artists' colony in 1969; photographer Diane Arbus committed suicide here, July 28, 1971. Actor Vin Diesel grew up here.

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753: Baby Buddha, tasty Chinese












733 (corner): Automatic Slims, one of the places I was told I should check out when I first came to New York City almost 20 years ago. It seemed pretty cool then.


W <===         BANK STREET         ===> E

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Corner: From 1954-69 Jack's Service Station, an Esso outlet, was here.












W <===         WEST 11TH STREET         ===> E

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W <===         PERRY STREET         ===> E

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685 (corner): Les Animaux


W <===         CHARLES STREET         ===> E

West:

680: Beasty Feast; pet supplies

Site of Newgate State Prison

At the foot of 10th Street (then Amos Street) was Newgate State Prison, opened in 1797 as New York's first prison and the second prison in the country. Despite some progressive policies--the co-ed convicts were taught trades, a physician and a pharmacist were hired, and the first warden lived in the prison along with his family--the institution was plagued by overcrowding, riots and smallpox epidemics. It was closed in 1829 when its inmates were sent "up the river" to the newly opened Sing Sing. In its day, the prison was apparently a tourist attraction; it's memorialized in a mosaic in the Christopher Street subway stop.

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681: Colette's Cakes














Corner (277 W 10th): Shephard House was built c. 1894 as the Shephard Warehouse, converted to apartments in 1978.


W <===         WEST 10TH STREET         ===> E

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657: St. Veronica's Rectory/Missionaries of Charity Convent









649 (corner): Malatesta Trattoria; the Voice raves about its ''raffish'' food.


W <===         CHRISTOPHER STREET         ===> E

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The Archives

666: Built in 1892-99 as the U.S. Appraiser's Store, a warehouse for goods awaiting customs inspection; later the U.S. Federal Archives Building. Converted to mixed use, 1988.









W <===         BARROW STREET         ===> E

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626: This was the address of St. Veronica's parochial school from 1906-31; boxer Gene Tunney attended school here.





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W <===         MORTON STREET         ===> E

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W <===         LEROY STREET         ===> E

On July 14, 1863, during the Draft Riots, a black man was stabbed and beaten with a 20-pound rock at this intersection. Rescued by police, he died a few days later at New York Hospital, able only to give his name as "Williams."

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W <===         CLARKSON STREET         ===> E

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W <===         WEST HOUSTON STREET         ===> E

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Block (319 Spring): This three-story UPS facility was built in 1949.














W <===     SPRING STREET     ===> E

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W <===     CANAL STREET     ===> E

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W <===     WATTS STREET     ===> E

West:

Block (34 Debrosses): A 15-story luxury apartment building built in 2009 with the unlikely name of Truffles Tribeca.










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451-453 (corner): The landmarked Fleming Smith warehouse, a fanciful 1892 building in a Flemish Revival style, was originally a shoe factory and a warehouse for wine; it's said to be the first Tribeca building converted to residential use. Houses the Capsouto Freres bistro, opened in 1980.








W <===     DESBROSSES STREET     ===> E

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W <===     VESTRY STREET     ===> E

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W <===     LAIGHT STREET     ===> E

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W <===     HUBERT STREET     ===> E

Shearson Lehman Plaza






W <===     NORTH MOORE STREET     ===> E

Independence Plaza






W <===     HARRISON STREET     ===> E
































W <===     CHAMBERS STREET     ===> E






W <===     WARREN STREET     ===> E






W <===     MURRAY STREET     ===> E






W <===     BARCLAY STREET     ===> E

West:

Barclay-Vesey Building

NYC - Financial District: Barclay-Vesey Building by wallyg, on Flickr

Block (140 West): Built from 1923-27 for New York Telephone, this 32-story brick-and-limestone structure designed by Ralph Walker is considered the first Art Deco skyscraper. Noted for its dramatic setbacks, its communication-themed murals and its Guastavino-vaulted pedestrian arcades. It was seriously damaged during the September 11 attacks but survived thanks to its solid masonry construction. It now serves as the headquarters of Verizon Communications.























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7 WTC

Newly Built 7 WTC by Michael McDonough, on Flickr

Block (250 Greenwich): A 52-story building clad in highly reflective glass, constructed 2002-06 to a design by David Childs of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, this is the first and so far the only part of the World Trade Center complex to be rebuilt.

The former building here, also known as 7 WTC, was a red-granite by Emery Roth & Sons, who also designed the Twin Towers. Built atop a Con Ed substation, it was supposed to house Drexel Burnham Lambert, which pulled out of a $3 billion rental deal after it was rocked by a insider-trading scandal. PIX12769b by mashleymorgan, on Flickr

It did house offices for the IRS, INS, DoD and CIA--as well as the NYC Office of Emergency Management, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's bunker, which he placed here against all advice next to the city's No. 1 terrorist target. It got much more use as a lovenest for Giuliani and his mistress than as an actual emergency command center.

The building's collapse on September 11 has been central to conspiracy theories about the supposed planned demolition of the World Trade Center. To this layperson, the official conclusion that a skyscraper might fall down after burning for seven hours without any effective firefighting does not seem far-fetched.


W <===     VESEY STREET     ===> E

Ground Zero

Freedom Tower

Freedom Tower  by frebro, on Flickr

The single tower that is replacing the Twin Towers as the high point of the World Trade Center will have 104 stories, six fewer than the previous buildings, but will match the height of the taller of the twins, at 1,368 feet. (Counting its antenna, it will a symbolic 1,776 feet--though the connection between post-terrorism rebuilding and independence from Britain is somewhat murky.) When completed, it will be New York's and the U.S.'s childs_som_freedom_tower, on Flickr tallest building, and the third tallest building in the world.

The start of construction was delayed until 2006, largely due to squabbling between the state government and developer Larry Silverstein.

The project's popular name was given it by then-Gov. George Pataki, though the Port Authority prefers that it be referred to as One World Trade Center, and insists this has nothing to do with the fact that the first major tenant is the China Center. sp20_005 by imhemp2002, on Flickr

This corner of the site used to be the location of World Trade Center 6. Completed in 1975, this eight-story building housed the U.S. Customs House and other government offices, including the Export-Import Bank of the United States and the Peace Corps' regional office. It was destroyed on September 11, 2001, by debris from the North Tower and subsequent fire.











Future Performing Arts Center

To be designed by Frank Gehry, it will house the Joyce modern dance company, moving here from Chelsea. The building was going to house the Drawing Center art project as well, but it withdrew after an absurd McCarthyite campaign led by The Daily News. A proposed International Freedom Center was also driven from the site by critics who feared it would be a venue for "controversial debate."











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

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