THE LATIN QUARTER OF NEW YORK. ITS QUAINT OLD HOUSES;
A PICTURESQUE QUARTER LYING BETWEEN WASHINGTON SQUARE AND THE RIVER.
This is one of the best advertised sections of our little community and displays much skill in getting on the front page. To the New Yorker it is rather a pleasant retreat, altogether too far downtown for residential purposes, hence abandoned to those queer people who like to go around in sculptors' aprons, long hair and bobbed hair and soft slouch hats, or none at all. It prides itself upon its Bohemianism, its art and its general superiority to the average citizen.
To the credit of Greenwich Village, however, let it be said that it does not take itself half so seriously as the rest of the city thinks it does.
You know this Bohemian part of New York is made up of old houses which is so picturesque through not having much plumbing and so forth and heat being furnished principally by the talk of the tenants on Bolshevism, etc. These inconveniences makes an atmosphere of freedom and all that and furnishes a district where the shoe clerk can go and be his true self among the many wild, free spirits from Chicago and all points west. Well, this neighborhood could stand a lot of repairs, not alone in the personal sense, but in a good many of the buildings, but these are seldom made until interfered with by the police or building departments.—Nina Putnam.
There are quite a number of creditable performers in the art line in their midst, and publicity never did an artist any harm in the world. So the succession of "fakirs' balls," "costume parties," etc., are to a certain extent strictly business. The "Festa" given by the villagers in MacDougal Alley for the Red Cross fund during the , War was an event which attracted attention the country over. No such artistic achievement was ever before re--corded, even by those doughty villagers themselves, and the amount of public interest was shown by the attendance, which was so great as to call for a force of police reserves to keep the crowd in line.
Mrs. Harry Payne Whitney, Mrs. W. K. Vanderbilt, Jr., Mrs. Guinness, Mrs. Maynard, Mrs. Delano and a host of nation-wide-known women in society headed the affair, and many thousands of dollars were raised for the fund. It is the backing of such names as these that creates the spell which fascinates the outside world.
Several notable locations are in the Village. The home of Washington Irving's sister at 15 Commerce street. General Mortons house at 95 Morton street opposite "Mr. Williamson's Garden" mentioned in Washton's Diary. The residence of Mme. Bonneville, 309 Bleecker street where Tom Paine, author of the Age of Reason, lived. He died in a small wooden house at 50 Grove Street. At 82 Jane Street is the site of William Bayard's house, where Alexander Hamilton was taken to die after being mortally wounded by Burr in the duel; Richmond Hill, Aaron Burr's residence. The old Grove Street school, visited by Lafayette, and the three-story brick house still standing, occupied by W. B. Astor, brother of the original John .Jacob.
The night life of the Village centers for the most part around the innumerable small restaurants and tea rooms. The limit of originality has been reached in selecting names for these various resorts. The Pig and Whistle affects a Dickens atmosphere, and the decorations recall Tony Weller, Wilkins Micawber, Little Nell, and Dombey & Son. For this little inn is modeled after one of his books and the famous one in London. Even the little square-paned curtained windows and old Dickens prints are there to complete the picture and atmosphere. Not much attention is paid to the napery in these places; paper napkins, plain wooden tables and chairs with benches running along the walls, make up the general run of' furnishings. Pipe racks, gaudily painted nooks and corners with more or less clever wood carving here and there; Chinese lanterns, old English lanterns and odd conceits in lighting effects, impart more or less of a novel effect to the visitor. The food is all well cooked, and nicely served and in some places even daintily.
"Puss-in-Boots," "The Dragon Fly," "The Pirate's Den," "The Mad Hatter," "The Black Parrott," "Little Sea Maid," "The Wigwarn," "The Garrett," "Treasure Island," "Little Russia," "Paul and Joe's," "The Samovar," "Three Steps Down," "Aunt Clemmy's" and a dozen others, provide amusement and attraction for the visitor. Most of these little places are tastefully painted on the outside in some cheerful bright colors; vivid greens, brilliant carmine, jet blacks, Mediterranean Blues, Spanish yellows, and other startling combinations used with artistic and successful results. The very pretty custom of having flower boxes on the window sills with brilliant flowering plants is also a feature of Village decoration, and adds a lot of freshness, decidedly enjoyable. Many of the old tenement houses are now being remodeled. and to the credit of the owners be it said they have employed clever designers who understand and interpret the spirit of the Village architecture, and some of these altered buildings are fascinating in their appearance. In the meantime rents have greatly increased as a result and the tenure of the bobhaired bohemian is likely to be curtailed in consequence.
To many readers who have regaled themselves only with the "Tickle Toe" philosophy, the "Soul light Shrines" and frivolous sides of life in Greenwich Village, it may come as a surprise to learn that there is also a very serious and dignified side to it as well. Many old families of large wealth formerly lived in the Village, and their interest in it is still keen and piously cherished. They have been mainly responsible for the erection of a beautiful building for the local Theatre. This structure is no cheap affair, but compares favorably with the best in town. It is admirably located on Sheridan Square, and faces on three streets, and well worth a visit. Some of the plays presented have won wide commendation, and special efforts are made to produce works of genuine merit by unknown authors. The Provincetown Players at 139 MacDougal Street, have also scored importantly in recent successes and altogether the stage has no reason to be ashamed of the product of Greenwich Village.
But perhaps the institution of which the genuine Villager is most proud is the Greenwich House, at 27 Barrow Street, which under the leadership of Mrs. V. G. Simkhovitch, (born a Kingsbury, but married a Greek professor in Columbia,) and a Villager, has become a-notable influence for good. As an example of what settlement work should be, Greenwich House is a splendid illustration.
Something like twenty-two hundred persons are in attendance every week at the various meetings held in the House. There are babies' Clinics, Health and Hygiene Clinics, First Aid, Kindergarten and Montessori Classes. There are clubs for boys, girls, and growns-ups. Topics of interest on daily affairs are discussed, lectures given and classes are held in the evening for self improvement. Nor is everything confined to such sober work. There is plenty of recreation. Social meetings, dances, gatherings of informal characters, Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, a summer centre for children, and a place to care for babies during the day time. An assembly hall for general meetings, a gymnasium for basket ball and other games. Music, pottery, and industrial art is taught. In short the program of the work done in a year at the Greenwich House is a credit to the splendid band of men and women who have so unselfishly devoted their time and their money to the work of making themselves neighborly. That they have gone about their work in the right spirit is best evidenced by the popularity of the institution and the wonderful weekly attendance.
Mrs. Simkhovitch is not alone in her glory. She has gathered around her a group of co-workers whose fame is nation wide. Mrs. Henry Payne Whitney, Miss Ida Tarbell, Mrs. A. Gordon Norrie, Miss Cornelia Gallatin, Mr. Ogden Mills, Mr. Thomas W. Lamont, Mr. George Gordon Battle, Judge Learned Harned, and at least twenty others. With so talented a board of managers it is not so difficult to account for the huge success of the Greenwich House.
Mrs. Simkhovitch was also first president of the United Neighborhood Houses of New York, an organization lately formed by a federation of forty-five different associations, all working toward the goal of social betterment in developing community life and higher neighborhood standards.
The map which you will find at the end of this chap-ter, includes all that you have seen from City Hall to 14th Street, on both East and West sides. By adding it to the first map you will see that you have already covered a third of the Island.
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