Wandering Greenwich Village

Greenwich Village is full of history, tree-lined streets, ‘Federalist’ style housing, and a true neighbourhood feeling. It is no wonder it is one of the most in-demand (and expensive) places to live in New York CIty.

On a recent walking tour of ‘the Village’, I snapped the photos below, and learned:

  • Before property prices hiked, it was an artist haven, and where the Beat movement originated.
  • When the city re-mapped the streets to a grid formation, the Village refused to conform, happy with the existing streets, many based on farmers tracks and sacred Native American trails. Today, they wind and curve unlike anywhere else in Manhattan.
  • Living in one of the prettiest villages, the early inhabitants fought long and hard against high-rise buildings.
  • This area is home to the ‘house fronts’ for Friends, the Cosby Show, and many film locations — Miranda and Steve were married in the grounds of Jefferson Market Courthouse on ‘Sex and the City’ (yes, the Paris scenes of Sex and the City were filmed here too — many outside the Cherry Lane Theatre).
  • The Stonewall Inn riots in Christopher Street started the gay rights movement, and many gay pride marches around the world are still called the ‘Christopher Street Marches’.
  • Washington Square Park is built over a swamp. It was paved for military marches, until the weight of solders sank the earth into the ground. It is also the site of public hangings from long ago.
  • Jimi Hendrix was discovered here, when he was on stage at ‘Cafe Wha’.
  • Even in olden times, you get a strong sense of social conscience in the area — the dispensary was built for people who couldn’t afford a doctor, including the staff of wealthy residents, and a young guy named Edgar Allan Poe.
  • There is no DNA evidence to prove it, but it is said the son of King Louis XVI of France was buried in the old cemetery on Leroy Street. When excavated, a headstone was uncovered that was inscribed ‘LE ROI’, or French for ‘The King’. The street is named Leroy in honour of that find. The American Revolution was said to inspire the French Revolution, and as the French has helped fund the American Revolution, they secretly acted as a safe house for their French friends (History experts are welcome to correct this version of events). 

You can read more about the Greenwich Village walking tour at the ‘Free Tours by Foot’ website.

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