You know Greenwich Village as the birthplace of the Beat movement, as the cradle of the LGBT rights crusade, and as a former bohemian haven, but what don’t you know about the famously beautiful neighborhood? Today we’re spilling 10 secrets of the Village and its posh neighbor to the south.
1. A sealed well in subterranean Soho was the site of a ghastly murder.
The 200+ year old well, located at 129 Spring Street, is rumored to be haunted by Gulielma Elmore Sand. Her body was found in the well with marks that suggested strangulation following her disappearance in December of 1799.
2. NYC’s smallest piece of private property can be found on the corner of Christopher and 7th Avenue.
The Hess triangle is a tile mosaic set into the pavement with a mysterious message: “Property of the Hess Estate Which Has Never Been Dedicated For Public Purposes.” It’s the result of a dispute between the city and building owner David Hess in the early 1900s.
3. The oldest manhole cover in New York City is 150 years old.
On Jersey Street behind the Puck Building is a manhole dating from 1886. It was once part of the Croton Aqueduct system, which supplied Manhattan with fresh water from Westchester County during the 1800s.
4. A room in Soho contains 250 cubic yards of dirt worth a million dollars.
The second floor of a Wooster Street loft is home to The Earth Room – a 22-inch-deep layer of dirt spread across a 3,600-square-foot gallery space. The “interior earth sculpture” was created by Walter De Maria in 1977 (and yes, it’s still the same dirt).
5. NYC’s most unusual subway map is embedded in the sidewalk on Greene Street.
Belgian architect Françoise 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.
6. The second deadliest incident in New York City history occurred in an NYU building.
Long before 23–29 Washington Place belonged to the university, it was the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. On March 25, 1911, a raging fire broke out in the building. 146 garment workers died in the tragedy, from the fire, smoke inhalation, or jumping to their deaths.
7. 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.
8. The oldest operating apothecary in the US has dispensed remedies in Greenwich Village for nearly 180 years.
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 have included Thomas Edison, Mark Twain, and Eleanor Roosevelt.
9. A strangely angled home on West 11th is the only reminder of a deadly explosion that rocked the idyllic street.
On March 6, 1970, the home at 18 West 11th Street disappeared in a violent bomb blast. A cell of radical left wing students had been preparing pipe bombs in the basement when their in-experience with dynamite caused what is now known as the Weathermen Townhouse Explosion.
10. The Astor Place subway station contains the final remnant of one of the strangest riots in NYC history.
On the southbound entrance is a bricked up doorway with the inscription “Clinton Hall.” It once led to the former Astor Place Opera House, where a deadly riot broke out in 1849 over whether American actor Edwin Forrest or English actor William Charles Macready was better at performing Shakespeare.
[Featured Image: ercwttmn]