Meet 10th Street
Beginning in the East Village and ending among the tangled streets of Greenwich Village, 10th Street maintains its charm with a mix of the historic and the new. The street appears more residential than most due to a magnificent block of nineteenth century townhouses sprawled between University Place and Fifth Avenue and a beautiful section between Fifth and Sixth Avenues that is one of the loveliest I have walked thus far. The lush gardens, planters, and flower pots found there are a treat to behold. Juxtaposed against this serenity are the many outstanding eating and drinking establishments. When I was here on a weekend evening shortly after the summer ended, every single restaurant and bar was packed. New Yorkers were clearly back in town. People were spilling out onto the sidewalks, sharing cocktails and stories of adventures in the Hamptons. I felt as though I was experiencing avenue action situated in brownstone propriety.
Just three blocks from one another are two of the city’s most notable churches. In 1799 the construction of St. Mark’s-in-the-Bowery was completed, making it Manhattan’s second oldest church building. A National Historic Landmark, Grace Church, on the corner of 10th and Broadway, is a magnificent architectural structure that was completed in 1846, and is considered one of the city’s greatest treasures. Also on 10th is the regal, pre-war Devonshire House, the historic Tompkins Square Library, Marshall Chess Club, and the famous Russian and Turkish Baths.
In addition, 10th Street has two charming side streets of its own. To the east, remnants of the area’s Dutch beginnings are still apparent on tree-lined, picturesque Stuyvesant Street, located between East 10th Street and Third Avenue. It is one of the city’s oldest and most historic streets, as it originally ran through Peter Stuyvesant’s farm. It is also the city’s only street that runs due east and west relative to the Manhattan street grid. Another side street to this side street is found on the west side. Between Sixth Avenue and Greenwich Avenue is the very private Patchin Place, an intimate, gated cul-de-sac.
10th Street has a rich history of writers, designers, architects, activists, musicians, actors and painters who have lived and worked here. No. 130 West 10th has a particularly fascinating story as not only is it where folksinger Woody Guthrie lived and played with the Almanac Singers in the early 1940’s, but it was also purchased by Alan E. Murray, who invented the popular Space Shoe. After his death, the Space Shoe company moved to California, but “Murray Space Shoe” remains on the door frame in large letters to this day. Many years later, Sonic Uke took over the building and were known to sit out on the steps playing their ukuleles. Alas, they have also moved on. On the East Side, Clash City Tattoo and The Millinery Shop, continue this legacy of artistry in exciting ways.
Wandering into each of the antique shops between Fifth and University and meeting the owners who have been on 10th Street for decades made for an interesting switch from the types of places I had come to expect. Over in the East Village, which was recently designated an historic district by the city, I became enamored with one stretch of 10th. There, several businesses cater to healthy living. Quintessence restaurant and Live Live & Organic have both been on this street for years, bringing healthy food and beauty products to the East Village long before others even knew what the concept was all about. Nearby is Molecule, where the purest water Manhattan has to offer is “made.” West 10th Street is also home to Gingersnap’s Organic, a vegan and raw restaurant with juices, “munchies,” wraps, and more.
Meals in attractive backyard gardens are also not difficult to come by on this street. Gnocco’s garden can be enjoyed over the tastes of the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, and Moustache‘s over authentic Mediterranean cuisine and Arabic music.
When in search of a proper drink, stopping by the Blind Barber is a must. It is a barber shop by day and bar by night. Be sure to check out our video. In a similar fashion, The Vacancy Project serves as an art gallery, hair salon, and coffee shop. The space occupied by Julius’ Bar was a grocery store in 1840 and became a bar in 1846. During Prohibition, it was a speakeasy, and its humble beginnings and long history on the corner of what used to be known as Amos Street (West 10th) and Factory Street (Waverly Place) makes Julius’ the oldest bar in the Village.
One absolutely cannot escape dessert on 10th Street. Sundaes and Cones has extraordinary flavors from wasabi to tiramisu and Van Leeuwen Ice Cream uses high quality ingredients, original recipes, and even has vegan options. Then there is ChikaLicious Dessert Bar and ChikaLicious Dessert Club where there is often a line out the door, as every treat is made to utter perfection.
So much of New York City’s dynamic history can be gathered just by walking 10th Street. Manhattan’s Dutch foundations and immigrant beginnings can still be seen here, and the bohemia of the Village has not been forgotten among all of the new and wonderful establishments that call this magnificent street home.