Secrets of Greenwich Village that Only New Yorkers Know
Many people know Greenwich Village as the birthplace of the beat movement, as the cradle of the LGBT rights crusade, and as a former bohemian haven. Step out of the well-planned streets, skyscrapers and impressive landmarks of Manhattan into a neighborhood that is dramatically different. Greenwich Village is a haven of tranquility compared to the noisy concrete urban jungle of Manhattan.
But what don’t you know about this famously beautiful neighborhood? Today I am spilling some secrets of this village and its posh neighbor to you. The Village’s curvy, narrow roads (most with proper names compared to the numbered streets in Midtown) don’t conform to the usual grid pattern and are a special treat to walk. The mid-rise apartments and the 19th-century-row houses are beautiful as well.
NYC’s smallest piece of private property can be found on the corner of Christopher and 7th Avenue. The Hess Triangle, as it is known to New Yorkers, is a tile mosaic set into the pavement with a mysterious message: “Property to the Hess Estate Which Has Never Been Dedicated for Public Purposes.” It’s the result of the dispute between the city and building owner David Hess in the early 1900s.
On Jersey Street behind the Puck Building is a utility hole dating from 1886. It was once part of the Croton Aqueduct system, which supplied Manhattan with fresh water from Westchester County during the 1800s. It is the oldest utility hole in New York City.
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NYC’s unique subway map is embedded in the sidewalk on Greene Street. A Belgian architect Francoise Schein completed the piece, called Subway Map Floating on a NY sidewalk, in 1985. It is approximately ninety feet long and twelve feet wide; made from a combo of stainless steel bars and LED lights.
Besides the Hess triangle, the oldest utility hole, and the unique subway map; two historic buildings on Great Jones Street once housed the headquarters of an infamous gang. The New Brighton Athletic Club was opened by Paul Kelly in 1904. Not only was it home to a dance hall, a saloon and one of the city’s premier bare-knuckle boxing rings, it was also the HQ of the lethal Five Points Gang. The buildings were later purchased by Andy Warhol.
In addition to my secrets as mentioned earlier, the oldest operating apothecary in the US, The C.O. Bigelow Apothecary, was founded in 1838 by Dr. Galen Hunter as “The Village Apothecary” shop. In 1880, it was purchased and renamed by Clarence Otis Bigelow. Over the years, its famous clientele has included Thomas Edison, Mark Twain, and Eleanor Roosevelt. This Apothecary has dispensed remedies in this Village for nearly 180 years.
Greenwich Village is more than just another “Manhattan Village,” it’s a historic one.