Jane Street History


"Authors' Row"
Greenwich Village, New York City
1969 - 2011

 

By

Warren Allen Smith

(Listed in Contemporary Authors, he moved to Jane Street in 1990)

 

 
In 1969 “The Greenwich Village Historic District Designation Report” was published. At that time August Heckscherwas Administrator, Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Affairs Administration; Harmon H. Goldstone was Chairman of the Landmarks Preservation Commission; and John V. Lindsay was the Mayor. The study focused on New York City's designated Historic District, which included Jane Street from Greenwich Avenue only to Washington, not to West Street. At that time, two garages and several businesses were on the street, and an electrical substation had been remodeled as an apartment building.

In earlier days, it is believed that a cow path (rather than a cobblestone road) led to the Jaynes (or Jayne) farm, where tobacco was grown in the area. The street’s name might have been altered from Jaynes or Jayne to Jane by a Villager, Mrs. Jane Gahn. Or below is another possibility, found in September 2008:
 
 
Later along the street one could find carriage houses, coachmen’s quarters, stables, and a stoneyard. At one time, according to centenarian Jean Verral in 2008, who once was an editor for pulp magazines such as Police Blotter, silent movies were shown for a time in a lot at the corner of Jane and Washington Street (site of a small garage owned by painter Jasper Johns in partnership with Julian Lethbridge that is adjacent to the Furniture Store on Washington. If a movie were to be shown on any day, a red light announced it. No red light, no movie!
 
First, some views of the 5-block-long Jane Street, which The New York Times once described as having more published authors of books per block than any other place in the city, leading some to call the street "authors' row."


    

Looking east from 31 Jane to Greenwich Avenue 

Jane Street, known as an exclusive address in the West Village, is seen in the lower right of the following photo taken by Scott Casazza from an August 2010 helicopter ride.

For example, 61 Jane is the left of the two brown buildings right of center, and 31 Jane is between the tall light-colored Standard Hotel near the Hudson River and the now

closed St. Vincent’s Hospital.

 


­­­­

 

Below is a close-up of the area, showing 2 and 12 Horatio Street; the old RCA Institutes of radio engineering; the former St. Vincent’s Hospital; and 31 Jane Street,

between the Gansevoort Hotel and the Standard Hotel (atop the new High Line). Aerial photo was taken by Scott Casazza of Jane Street.

 

 

Of the two tall buildings left of center, below, 31 Jane is the one on the right.

The picture was taken from the roof of 61 Jane.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jane Street is in the west part of Manhattan's Greenwich Village.  As the map shows, it is only five blocks long, from Greenwich Avenue

to the Hudson River.  (Using the blue tube at the bottom, you can extend the map.)





That 1961 map by famed cartographer Lawrence Fahey is courtesy of Janestreeter Cindy Niedoroda.  Where 31 Jane now is formerly was the

Greenwich Village Humane League.  The house where Hamilton died is shown on the wrong side of the street. 

Gone nearby are the Greenwich Theatre, Loew's Sheridan, bars such as Frisco's and Jack Barry's, the Sea Colony Restaurant, Food Trades

High School (now the gay center), the Bank Street College of Education, etc.  (It's a wide picture - adjust the screen to stretch over beyond 6th

Avenue.)

For further details about the map, see the very ending of the present website.


The following facts are from the 1969 “Greenwich Village Historic District Designation Report,” cited above. 

[Comments by the present author added after 2003 are in brackets. All photos were taken by the author in November 2003.]



#1    The Archbishopric of New York hired architect Charles Kreymborg to build a simple six-story brick apartment here in 1938-1939. The structure

replaced a late Federal house at the corner of Jane and Greenwich, in addition to the two town houses next to it on the Greenwich Avenue side.
[Entrance to the Soy Luck restaurant is on Greenwich Avenue.]

#2    A six-story apartment building, it is one that features rounded bay windows at the corner. It was erected in 1903 and replaced houses built in 1842

for the DeKlyn Estate.
[Benny’s Burritos, a restaurant on the left, below, has its entrance on Greenwich Avenue.]



 

#4-8    The three Greek Revival brick houses, each three stories high, were built for speculative purposes in 1843 by the heirs of Leonard DeKlyn,

a merchant who had purchased the land. Dr. David M. Halliday, whose wife Mary was a DeKlyn, owned #4. Buildings #6 and #8 retain their original

appearance. [When the warehouse at 247 West 12th caught fire in 1922, #8 Jane was damaged and two firemen died in the fire.]


#5 & 7    Robert J. Gray, a machinist, erected these early apartment buildings in 1871.

#9    The four-story building was erected in 1844 as an investment for Walter H. Mead, a tinsmith. An arched gateway affords access to a three-story

house (#9 1/2) built in 1854.

#10-14    At this site was a six-story garage that extended through to 247-251 West 12th St.
[It was called the Castle Garage, had been built in 1910 as a warehouse to store paper, rubber products, whiskey, and photographer’s flash powder.

The structure supposedly was fire-resistant, but Terry Miller’s Greenwich Village and How It Got That Way (Crown, 1990), describes how it burned

for five days and nights, exploding when whiskey or flash powder caught fire. The garage was replaced by condominiums, and the Jane Street side

was closed.]

#11-19    In 1921 a two-story garage was erected for the New York Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Formerly it had been the site of the Jane

Street Methodist Episcopal Church, which had established itself here in the mid-1840s. Two 3-story townhouses once stood at each side of the lot.
[The name of the present garage is Value Management Corporation. Adjacent is P. E. Guerin Bronze Manufacturers and on the corner of 4th Street and

Jane is the 18-story Rembrandt co-op, 31 Jane Street.]



#16    A five-story apartment house, it was designed originally in 1887 for Robert Dick and completely altered in 1939. Two Tony Sarg murals, just

inside the entrance door, decorate the entrance hall.



[Tony Sarg (1880-1942), who lived at #16, was a producer of puppet shows. One of his students was Bill Baird. Part of one of the murals was saved

when the entrance was re-painted, but a later change eliminated Sarg's work. Following is his "Fish Footman," described by one person as "almost too

proud to speak to anyone," from a 1930 production of "Wonderland."]

 

 

[Dr. Andrew S. Dolkart of Columbia University's School of Architecture wrote the following for the school's 13 July 1940 publication.

Note that in 1940 rentals at 16-18 Jane Street for 1 1/2 and 2 1/2 room apartments were $45 and $60 per month.]



 

 

#20    Originally a five-story house built in 1872 for Charles Guntzer, the building’s stores at either side of the entrance were converted to

apartments in 1952. A former resident of 20 Jane, Reynold Weidenaar, reports that the building is better described as "a 5-story tenement with

ground-floor stores. It was very much a classic low-end tenement, with tiny interior bedrooms that had windows only to the hallways. The census

records for 1880 listed names and occupations of the occupants -- there were 17 families, nearly 60 people, living in the building. All the adults were

immigrants. No indoor toilets before 1900. There was a 5-seat "school sink" privy in the back yard. Not an easy life."  Reynold Weidenaar has a firt-rate study of 20 Jane street at the following:  http://20janehistory.magneticmusic.ws


#21-25    The building was erected in 1868 for the Bronze Works Manufacturing Company.
[ The name of the present business is P. E. Guerin Bronze Manufacturers.]


#22    The two-story-high building was erected in 1868 for Calvin Demarest and served originally as a stable with living quarters for the coachman

on the second floor.


This compact brick carriage house was bought by Jim Dine in 1997 and in 2013 the 3,800 square feet of indoor space and an 850- square-foot roof deck has an asking price of $9.1 Million.

In 2010 Mr. Dine, one of the antic patriarchs of the Pop Art movement, gut renovated the two levels into a residential retreat and has lived in the three-bedroom 3 1/2 bathrooms house.

Past residents include international billiards champion Calvin Demarest, who in the 1910s attacked his wife with a pocket-knife, attempted suicide, injuring his mother, and ended up in Illinois sanitarium. 

Click here to see.






#24 & 26    Two five-story stone buildings were erected in 1885-1886 for two brothers, James and Isaac Lowe, who lived here.

#28    The one-story building was erected originally in 1913-1914 and altered by the addition of a rear extension in 1921 for Charles Fitzpatrick.

[ Leo Design Studio occupies part of the ground floor.]

#30    Formerly a stable with living quarters above, the small two-story structure was occupied for a number of years by a printer. Linus Scudder, who

built other houses in the Village, constructed it in 1870.

[ The Gottleib Corporation owns the building, in which is a food catering business.] [He also built five brownstones at 32-40 East 58th Street, where

Jay Lewin, Esq., and his siblings were born and raised.]

#31    In 1959, The Rembrandt, a seventeen-story apartment house (42-46 8th Avenue) was built by the Irman Realty Company and occupies the

corner site on 8th Avenue. The main entrance is at 31 Jane. The co-op rents space to a store and a dry cleaner on the 8th Avenue side. A Russian-born

sculptor who had studied in Paris, Gleb W. Derujinsky, resided here and became known for his busts of Lilian Gish, Mrs. Henry Hammond, and

Theodore Roosevelt.   “This eighteen-story apartment house . . . represents a breaking away from the scale, the quality, and the beauty that we have

come to associate with The Village. The windows are still articulated as individual entities but are already being grouped in ever-larger multiples

unrelated to anything which adjoins the building. This block, with its three tiny houses flanked by apartment houses, is an example of the fate awaiting

The Village if such new construction is permitted without any preliminary review of its design." 


[Novelist and member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters Ed Hoagland lived here, as did Robert McKinley,
an eminent maker of dolls, who died here in 1994. Adjacent to 31 Jane Street is 21-25, the P. E. Guerin Bronze Manufacturers building.]


#32    In 1829, Richard Cromwell, a merchant, purchased this and the adjoining properties (331-327 West 4th) from David Bogert. His building

had an English basement entrance but now retains little of its original character and has been completely smooth-stuccoed.


#33    This three-story building faces both on Jane Street and on Eighth Avenue (#31). Built for Alfred A. Milner five years earlier than #35, it has

been completely altered and smooth-stuccoed.

#34    A corner house (331 West 4th St.) was originally built in 1828. The one-story extension at the rear was a later 19th century addition, replacing

a stable at the back of the lot.

[A bar, the Corner Bistro, has its entrance on 4th Street. Across the street on the corner of 8th Avenue is a delicatessen, 38 Market, which went out of

business in 2003. Cater-cornered across the street at 31 Eighth Avenue, which has an entrance partly on Jane, the Tavern on Jane was the setting of a

feature film, The Tavern.]

Jane Street Looking west toward the Bistro and 4th Avenue


  

The Corner Bistro, which many swear has the best burgers in the city.

 

                 
 

Jane Street looking eastward toward Greenwich Avenue.
31 Jane is on the left and the Corner Bistro is on the right.

 
 

 
               
 

Above is Jane Street looking eastward.

At the extreme left, an area called the Pink Triangle

in front of the launderers – where

West 4th crosses Jane Street – was painted pink.

In the mid-1950s, the site was 42 Eighth Avenue. On the corner was the Greenwich Village Humane League and a thrift shop. Halfway down the block, with a canopy, is the Seascape (possibly the earliest gay business in the Village.



 


[#31 Eighth Avenue  The Tavern on Jane is operated by Horton Foote Jr., whose father is the Academy Award screenwriter of To Kill a Mockingbird

and Tender Mercies . The corner building can be entered with one foot on Jane and the other on Eighth Avenue.]

#35    Here is a four-story house built in 1847 for Alfred A. Milner, a baker. Later it was remodeled as a store. Sculptor Abron Ben-Schmuel lived

here in the mid-1930s.

[In 1943, the first co-op art gallery in Manhattan formed here. During its seven years of existence, the Jane Street Gallery was dominated by Hyde

Solomon, Nell Blaine, Judith Rothschild, Leland Bell, Louisa Matthiasdottir, Ida Fischer, Larry Rivers, and Albert Kresch (at 80 and now a resident in

Brooklyn, the only survivor in 2009). A 2003 Times article by Grace Glueck described the group as "a cozy, bonded group, almost equals in age, with

cocksure opinions about what art should be," and they designed the sets for Lorca's If Five Years Pass at the Provincetown Playhouse. . . . Bonsignor, a

pastry shop, is at this address now.]


#36    [ At this un-numbered site, the Jane Street Garden in 1973 was begun by members of the Jane Street Block Association. The lot had been owned

by St. Vincent’s Hospital. The garden was started on what was a burned area of land. In 1975, after a developer bought the site and was denied

permission by the Landmarks Commission to build, the city took over the property and charged the Jane Street Block Association to use it. When the

association became unable to pay, it was turned over to the West Village Committee, which negotiated a new lease and has cultivated and cared for the

garden through volunteer labor and cont

ributions. It contains two varieties of crabapple trees; a range of roses; and shrubs such as dogwood, firethorn, crape myrtle, yew, hydrangea, smoke

tree, rose of Sharon, boxwood, jasmine nudiflorum, red bud, Chinese and American holly. Its flowers include violets, narcissus, tulips, bleeding heart,

columbine, peonies, alyssum, lilies, foxglove, mint, astilbe, iris, hosta, dahlias, hollyhocks, and asters. . . . At the Jane Street Fair in 1999, baseballer

Sandy Koufax visited one weekend, but equally noted celebrities are and have been full-time residents. . . . .Since 1988, Billy Romp, a tree farmer from

Shoreham, Vermont, has sold Christmas trees on the corner. Christmas on Jane Street (1998) describes his, his wife Patti’s, and their three children’s

annual trips to Greenwich Village. Sleeping in their tiny camper parked nearby, they became known as “the tree people.”]

[Patricia Fieldsteel, writing from Nyons, France, has some different details.  She described the birth of the Jane St. Garden in The Villager (16-22 May,

2007), for she lived in the Village in 1969 when the garden's site was occupied by 3-story Greek Revival Buildings on 8th Avenue.  In 1975 the plot

now known as "36 Jane St., Block 625, Lot 34" was bought at auction by a novice real estate developer, 26-year-old Gregory Aurre Jr. of West 12th,

who hired architect Stephen Lepp to design a 4-story combined apartment/commercial building for the site.  Jane Streeters charged that it was not in

keeping with the street, and rumor had it that the building was to be a high-class brothel.  On May 12th, a workman sent by Aurre entered the garden

and dug it up.  An angry crowd led by Jean Verral arrived to help save what had not been destroyed.  Ultimately Landmarks rejected Aurre's proposal,

and the city rented it to the Jane Street Block Association for between $6,000 and $10,000 a year.  In 1977, Aurre pleaded guilty as part of a 24-count

federal indictment for participation in an unrelated banking conspiracy in which he obtained $160,000 in fraudulent loans between 1973 and 1975 -

he was sentenced to prison. . . . The garden then was replanted and a landscape designer re-did the area ("Pamela R. Berdan, a creative, talented

visionary but nonetheless a bit of a witch").  An old-fashioned Dutch windmill was built in the garden by Evan and Arthur Stoliar, and a Dutch theme

coinciding with the visit of a Dutch princess was planned at the 3rd annual Jane Street Fair, 9 October 1982.  According to Fieldsteel, when the

limousine disgorged the princess and Mayor Ed Koch spotted "the lone, bewildered princess across the street, [he] ran to her rescue, yelling "Here,

Princess!  Here, Princess!", she nodded graciously, and he escorted her to the dais.  The festival netted $20,000. . . . Bill Bower and the West Village

Committee are credited with obtaining a 25-year lease at $40/year to maintain the space as a community garden.  Bower and Berdan, who had worked

together on the St. Vincent's Hospital garden, did not continue working happily.  He held the keys and locked Berdan out.  With two escorts, Berdan

was permitted to remove plants she'd put in at her own expense. . . . The street at one time was adopted by an individual calling himself "The Friendly

Neighborhood Poet," or as he said, "poyt," and he accepted remuneration for bringing "poytry" to the area (until he was found to be selling items with

neighbors' Social Security Numbers on them and was reported to the Sixth Precinct.  Sleeping beneath the windmill, however, and not noticing that it

had caught fire, he escaped the fire but was escorted to Rikers . . .  and the damaged windmill was torn down.  Fieldsteel's article is filled with other

memories that Janestreeters will not want to overlook.]

Where Jane Street crosses 8th Avenue and continues westward to the Hudson River

 



#37 & 39     Here was an electrical substation building erected in 1924 by and for the Edison Electric Illumination Company. It was an addition to

its building at 30-32 Horatio Street and stands on the site of a church erected in 1836, one occupied by successive Presbyterian church groups, first by

the village Presbyterian Church, then the Jane Street Church, and finally the Fifth Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. In 1966-1967 it

was remodeled as an apartment house, the upper floors of which have central triple windows flanked by single windows.



Jane Street looking west, the former electrical substation now apartments on the right




#38-40    Here are three-story houses built in 1845 for John Marsh of Mendham, NJ.

#41 & 43    These two five-story apartment houses were built in 1888 for Robert Dick. The cornices reflect the influence of the Queen Anne style

popular at his period.


#42  In March 2013, Jack Wetzer e-mailed his memories of the area.  He now lives in Key West, Florida, lived on the first two of four floors of 42 Jane Street. The ground floor – from the front, lowest level, half below sidewalk level – very like Lavern and Shirley, the television situation comedy that ran on ABC from 1986 to 1983 – was the yard. It was concrete but we were able to have a BBQ, chairs, planters, etc. It was small. The yard was shared with the cooking school which was located on Eighth Avenue, adjacent to the garden. I can’t recall the owner’s name (but keep thinking Lydia Marshall) was married and was French. She had celebrity chefs come to the school on occasion and had James Beard and Julia Childs in attendance once in awhile.

Across the street was the Jane Street Seafood Café, a great restaurant owned by Kevin.

When a Dutch princess visited 36 Jane, a Dutch windmill was constructed and hundreds of tulips were planted. A very big event and a lot of preparation went into the party.

The electrical substation at 37 and 39 Jane had already been turned into apartments.

The owners of 42 Jane Street at the time Steve Garrick and I rented, and before and after, were Leonard and Deborah Franklin. He was a retired attorney but did a little work on the side to keep busy and he managed his investment portfolio and that kept him busy. She was an artist. Leonard passed away and I have lost track of Deborah; last contact was 2007. She moved to 45 W 60th Street. They cut us an extraordinary deal. The apt. was a mess and they were only looking to rent for 18 months and then were planning on gutting it. We offered to renovate and they agreed that, if they signed off on the plans, they would take the cost of the renovations, amortize at the then going rate of 18% for 10 years and reduce our rent accordingly for a 10-year lease. We had 2 rooms on each floor, plus a bathroom on each floor, that we completely renovated. The two rooms on the 2nd flood each had fireplaces and 10-12 foot ceilings with a huge pocket door separating the rooms. The kitchen was large enough to have a center island and a table and chairs. We had a pantry with the frig and shelving and the garland stove fit where there used to be a fireplace. The yard entrance was off the kitchen. We were also given access to ½ of the basement, which we used for laundry and storage.
 
One of my favorite restaurants nearby was Cottonwood.
 
I worked in many places: Coopers and Lybrand [now PricewaterhouseCoopers], Bloomingdales, and was int. audit manager; Caswell-Massey, Inc [building between 8th and 9th Ave. at 14th street] as VP Finance; DF Sanders on West Broadway as VP Finance [great restaurant on Broome St and West Broadway was Chanterelle]; and finally Concord Limousine as VP Finance.
 
Steve Garnick and I were partners until about 1987, we split, remained friends. Steve was the chef at the executive dining room at Macy’s 34th St, 6th floor and operated a catering business out of our kitchen on Jane St.  I met Abe Mesa while staying at my beach house in Cherry Grove, Fire island; we moved to alphabet city, Ave C, and stayed there until late 1990; sold Fire Island house and then we moved to Key West. Steve had AIDS at the time and was unable to support himself [the typical dementia issues], so I paid for him to remain at Jane St until I moved to Key West and then asked him to come live with us until he passed Oct 1991.
 
Abe and  I had a gift store in Key West; Abe became a US citizen and changed his name to Wetzler; I got a job with Keys Energy Services, the electric utility in the lower Keys.

Abe was diagnosed with renal cell cancer on his 30th birthday in 1995 and died 30 days later. I still live in Key West with Abe’s brother and a very good friend of mine, Blas Mesa – hence the facebook name [we wanted one page so we added both our names]. I am with Keys Energy Services for 21 years now and currently serve as Assistant General Manager and CFO.
 


#42-50    Here is a fine row of Greek Revival houses, all built on land which was sold by the estate of Richard Townley in 1845 and dates from 1846.

People who lived there were Ira Crane, a mason, at #44; Thomas Crane, who owned a granite company, at #46; and Gustavus A. Conover, a builder, at

#48.



#45    The number was not used in the present numbering system.

[Patricia Fieldsteel, writing from France in The Villager (12-18 December 2007), described in detail what she remembers while living in “a studio on

the parlor floor, that had 4-foot-by-8-foot windows looking south on Jane between Eighth Avenue and Hudson Street.”  Click here for the article (with

information about homelessness, transgendered hookers, crickets, cicadas, mockingbirds, etc.)].

#47 & 49     These two four-story brick town houses were built in 1837-1839 for Alexander Mactier, a merchant and a large property owner in the

neighborhood. A fourth story was added to #49 after 1858. In 1870 the front of #47 was extended forward for J. W. Johnston. Both houses were altered

in the 20th century to provide basement entrances.

#51    Here is a five-story building built in 1870 for William H. Aldrich, owner-architect

#52 & 54    It is likely that in 1848 Gustavus A. Conover, who had purchased the land and paid the taxes, built #52, a simplified version of the Gothic

Revival style. In 1851, #54 was built for an agent of the Merchants Exchange, John M. Patterson.

[In 1997 #52 was renovated with a 400 square foot addition.]

[The following was received 5 June 2007 from David Broad, who now is professor and head of the psychology and sociology department at North

Georgia College and State University:

I lived at 52 Jane from 1958 to 1967 while I attended Southerland Junior High (Hudson and Grove), Stuyvesant H.S. (345 E. 15th St) and

NYU (Washington Square).  My mother, Frances Wegner, was a newspaper reporter for the Long Island Star-Journal and Long Island Press. 

My stepfather, Lloyd Wegner, was a photographer.  He was friends with Leon Seidel who owned the Lion's Head Tavern, and Cora Wright

who was a columnist for Popular Photography They were like my uncle and aunt. 
 
My mother wrote a short story that was published (New Yorker ?) called "Mrs. Manowich and the Cats," about our neighbor at 50 Jane who

fed about twenty cats in her yard every day.  They all gathered at the appointed hour of the feeding, and it was quite a spectacle.  The tag-line

was, of course, that they kept coming for weeks after she died. 
 
Thanks for the website, with so many heart-warming images for me.]



#53 & 55    These three-story brick houses were built in 1846 for George Schott, a tobacconist who also owned 624 and 636 Hudson Street around

the corner.

[In the original 1971 movie, Shaft , Shaft’s apartment was at #55.]

#56    A four-story corner house, it was erected in 1852 for Leonard Appleby.

#57    The building was built for George Schott in 1846.

[Mi Cocina, a restaurant that went out of business in 2008, had its entrance on Hudson Street.]

#58-66    The five brick Greek Revival residences were erected in 1848-1849 by Stacey (Stacy) Pitcher, a mason at 117 Crosby Street, as a part of his

development of the block. #62 and 64 have fine craftsmanship and design of the ironwork of their hand railings at the stoops. The stair rails are wrought

iron with castings set between the vertical spindles. #62 displays square openwork panels of wrought iron that make the transition from the stair hand

railings to the more widely spaced railings of the landing itself. #62 retains its original wrought iron areaway railing with modified Greek Revival fret

design at the base. #64 has ornamental latticework cast iron porch at its landing and respects the design of the original ironwork. The stone basement

of this three-unit row is handsomely rusticated. 

[ Greenwich Cleaners Inc. is now at #66, its entrance being on Greenwich Street.]

#59    This number is not used in the present numbering system, but at the site was a bricked-up doorway, which once served as the rear entrance to

624 Hudson Street.

#59-63    A huge nineteen-story apartment house was erected in 1962-1964. At one time seven houses stood here facing Hudson. “The Cezanne rises

to a height of 19 stories. Built in 1962-1964, it has not attempted to band or streamline the windows horizontally in the manner which was so unusual

in the 1930s and carried over to the 1950s. The windows, which have wood sash, are grouped in twos and threes and, in the wider grouping of threes,

a picture window is inserted in the middle. More attention to neighborhood fenestration might, at no extra cost, have produced a more compatible

building.”

[When The New Republic published his first story, writer John Cheever (1912-1982) was a teenage dropout who lived on the corner where #61 now is.

Guitarist-singer Jimi Hendrix; actor Brad Midnight Express Davis; and Limelight Cafe operator Helen Gee once lived here.]

The Cezanne

 


#65-67    A charming courtyard with a simple wrought iron railing; it is the entranceway for #809-813 Greenwich Street.

[It now is an entranceway to the Greenwich Street houses only by way of Jane Street.]




#68    A seven-story factory and loft building, it was designed in the tradition of McKim, Mead & White (architects of the New York Herald Building

and the Boston Public Library) by David H. King Jr.  It was built in 1897 for Helene M. Cavarello. “Although not in character with the residences in

the area, this is an unusually fine commercial structure and set a standard for this area which was never surpassed.”

[ Its entranceway now is on Greenwich Street.  Calvin Trillin, among others, remembers the Eclair baking factory that was here.]




#69    Where once a two-story corner house with a rear lot and a stable once stood, now there is a parking lot at the corner of Jane and Greenwich streets.

[It now is a design studio adjacent to the Furniture Company, with an entrance on Greenwich Street. Painter Jasper Johns in partnership with Julian

Lethbridge owns the garage, a workshop on the corner. According to the street’s oldest resident, Jean Verral , silent movies were sometimes shown in

that vacant lot.]




#70-80    The six brick Italianate residences here are similar architecturally, but the house at #80 was built in 1849 while the remaining five were

erected in 1855. The row was built for Joseph Harrison, a merchant and real estate speculator.



#71-81    The six brick Greek Revival residences here were developed in 1846-1847 by Peter Van Antwerp, an attorney at 33 Pine Street who resided

at #75. The other houses were built as residences for two lumber merchants, William Foster (#73) and William Dunning (#79); and a planer, Daniel D.

Clark (#71). Stephen H. Williams (#81), a carpenter-builder at 105 Bank Street, likely planned and built this row.

[Alexander Hamilton died at a physician’s home near but closer to the middle of the area between #81 Jane and Horatio Street. Someone named Jaynes

is said to have built a house at 81 Jane in 1750, but it was torn down in 1800.]


#80 1/2, 82    Built in 1886, the pair of five-story brick apartment houses tower over the nearby buildings. The architect was M. Louis Ungerich for

ohn Totten.


#82 Jane Street contains a plaque (below) that claims Alexander Hamilton died here.
 

 
                

[ A plaque installed in 1936 at #82 erroneously states that Alexander Hamilton died here in 1804 after his fatal duel across the Hudson River in

Weehawken with Aaron Burr. He had been brought, still alive but paralyzed from the waist down, to the William Bayard House, close to but not

specifically at #81 Jane, except that the street then was curved in the direction of Horatio Street. According to Greenwich Village and How It Got That

Way, by Terry Miller, the William Bayard House never stood at #82 but, instead, was “just below the present Gansevoort Street. . . close to the present

Horatio Street—possibly even in its path, as Horatio wasn’t mapped until 1817 or opened until 1835.”]

[Al Trojanowicz (63-56 75 Street, Middle Village, NY 11379 altz@earthlink.net), retired Fire Department New York marine historian, writes that a

resident of 82 Jane Street was John J. Harvey.  Harvey was pilot of the FDNY fireboat Thomas Willett known as Engine Co. 86 and berthed at Pier 53,

Bloomfield Street.  On 2/11/1930 he operated the Willett at the fire aboard the North German Lloyd liner Muenchen berthed at Pier 42, Morton Street.

        http://www.fireboat.org/history/jjh.asp
 
As a result of explosions aboard Muenchen, the fireboat alongside was severely damaged, some firemen were injured, and John J. Harvey was killed. 

It is notable that he was stationed and was killed near his Jane Street home.   The new fireboat completed the following year was named for Harvey. 

It is no longer owned by FDNY but has been preserved and is on the National Register.]
 

 

The fireboat John J. Harvey


#83    Robert H. Bayard in 1853-1854 had this four-story brick residence built. It is Anglo-Italianate in style, with an English basement. The house is

crowned by an Italianate cornice with vertically placed, paired console brackets and paneled fascia.

[ Gay historian Jonathan Ned Katz and MacArthur Fellow Alan Berube once lived here.]



#84 & 86    Built in 1858 in the local vernacular of the period, the two brick houses were originally only two stories in height but later another story was

added. #86 retains its stoop, which is enhanced by a simple iron hand railing. Both residences, erected for Samuel D. Chase as part of a row of three, are

crowned by bracketed Italianate cornices of identical design.

#85-87    A low two-story brick building, it was erected after the middle of the 19th century on the site of a former stone yard. In 1885, the two original

houses were altered to a stable and carriage house. It now serves as a garage and factory building.

[ At the site now is Pro Piano, which rents upright and grand pianos.]

#88-90    Replacing a row house at #88 and a stable at #90, this one-story 1919 brick structure serves as a warehouse and garage for the building on the

corner, #94 Jane Street.

[ #88 is now a four-story building owned by the 88-90 Jane Street Corporation. Composer David Diamond once lived here.]



#89-93    Built in 1919 as a one-story garage, this brick building was raised to two stories in the early 1960s.

[ #89 is now a studio belonging to Industria Superstudio, a commercial photography company at 775 Washington Street.]

#92    Italianate in style, this three-story house with basement is all that remains of several houses built in 1858 for John B. Walton.

 

Looking eastward from Washington Street, showing a cobblestone road in need of repairs



#94    The corner two-story brick industrial structure was erected in 1948.

[ The entrance to a commercial photography company is on 777 Washington Street.]

#95    A three-story vernacular structure with a completely incoherent design, it was erected in 1849 as a residence. “A one-story extension at the rear

of the lot was a later addition. Not the slightest effort was made to reconcile window sizes to each other or to relate them to the large door. The building

serves a useful purpose in the community but, at no extra cost, the varied window sizes might, in the hands of a skillful designer, have been made

exceptionally attractive, befitting its location in an Historic District.”

[ The building, once listed as Moore’s Wholesale Meats, has been boarded up and not in use for years. In November 2003, however, it has been

completely renovated. Across the street, buildings on the corner were taken down in 2009, and new ones will be built.



#97 - 99    [A public park with a small waterfall is now at #99, between Washington and West streets. It is gated in the evenings.]

#99    [An eleven-story luxury building with 175 units of 2-, 3-, and 4-bedroom apartments, #99 was completed in 1999 by architects

Fox and Fowle.]


#100    [An eight-story apartment building, #100 is operated by 100 Jane Street Lic.]

#101 – 109    [A garage at this site extended through the block to 100-108 Horatio Street. In 1986 the Horatio Street side was demolished, according to

The Architecture of The Greenwich Village Waterfront (NYU Press, 1989).]

#111    [A six-story apartment building, #111 is operated by Jane Street Condo.]

#113 - 115    [Originally the Seamen’s Institute of the American Seamen’s Friend Society (1910), according to Stuart Waldman in Maritime Mile (2002),

it had an octagonal tower that housed a beacon light. Later, it became Jane West Hotel and is now called Hotel Riverview. First described as a

home-away-from-home “for seamen of all ranks and all nationalities visiting the Port of New York” and “a temporary refuge for “seamen in distress,”

in 1912 it housed surviving crew members of The Titanic. It is a six-story hotel that includes on the ground floor, where the hotel’s formal ballroom

once was, The Jane Street Theatre, which seats 280 and has a small balcony.]

[In 2008, the old Hotel Riverview was remodeled and became The Jane.]

 


                                                   
 

A first-rate New York Times article (19 July 2009) by Christopher Gray contains 16 online photos of the old and the new Jane, including the following of

the bar (which was not allowed in the original hotel):

         

 

Photo by Sara Krulwich/The New York Times


#118  [The NY Central Railroad’s elevated freight line from West 12th to Jane Street was completed in 1934.

The empty lot below became a parking lot.]

#124-132    [Originally a factory, it was gutted by fire in 1891. In 1978, it was converted from a paper warehouse to a

six-story multiple dwelling, Harbor House.]

#140-142    [A parking lot operated by Icon Parking Systems covers the area from Harbor House westward to West

Street.]

 
Some Books About Greenwich Village

Blake, Aaron, The Literary Map of New York
Churchill, Allen, The Improper Bohemians
Gold, Joyce, From Trout Stream to Bohemia, A Walking Guide to Greenwich Village History
“Greenwich Village Historic District Designation Report, 1969,” City of New York
Leisner, Marcia, Literary Neighborhoods of New York
White, Norval and Elliot Willensky, American Institute of Architects Guide to New York City
 

More about the 1961 map, above:

Contact the Author

 

Last updated  November 2012





Contact the Author with Question and Comments

 HAS ANYONE THE ANSWER?


(14 November 2012)

Brian Flanagan asks:

<brian.flanagan@flanaganrealty.com>asks:


My Grandmother, Mary Jane White, lived on Jane Street back in the 1920's or early 1930's.  She perished in a fire set by a space heater. 


 (17 August 2010)  
A friend emailed me your article and I was thrilled.  I was born in 1947 and lived in 41 Jane Street unitl I married.  Although they were pretty old buildings then, my childhood was fantastic.  Jane Street had been a designated "play street" and only people who lived there could drive through.  We had signs at the corner of Jane and 8th indicating it was a play street.  Because of the designation, we were allowed a sprinkler system on the hydrant at the corner for the summers.  There was a candy/soda fountain store where the gardens are now and Jane Street was packed with children from a very young age to teenagers.  There would be lines of girls awaiting their turn at jumping rope games while the older kids were listening and sometimes dancing to the music on their radios.  I was fortunate to be on the Charity Bailey Show on Sunday mornings on Channel 13.  She lived in a brown stone building across the street.  If you want, I could send you a photo that had been in the NY Times about her show.  The stories of Jane Street are endless and I belong to the Chelsea/Greenwich Village Assoc. with other people who were kids with me and attended the same school.  We met (15 of us) in the Jane Street Tavern in June and had a ball.  My building alone could be a sitcom.
 
Betty Taylor in Lincroft, NJ <elizat@comcast.net>
 

Greetings from Australia!
U. Stuart Auslander <stu@aus9.net>   Cc:    Martin Henner

I remember the street perhaps in 1956.
I don't remember the address, but Joyce Mertz had an apartment there.  She moderated a discussion group for teens in behalf of American Friends Service Committee. It was a formative experience in my life I met other bright teens & my first girl friend. Stuart Auslander

From:    Martin Henner <mhenner@comcast.net>
   
I don't remember Joyce Mertz from Jane Street. I recall the AFSC discussions at Bob Gilmore's home on St. Marks Place.
Later, Joyce Mertz, owned an elegant townhouse on 17th off of Grammercy Park. Joyce was the heir to the Publishers Central Clearinghouse (and sweepstakes) fortune. Martin Henner
henner@impartial.com