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an annotated walk down macdougal st in greenwich village

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I thought I would tryout a thread using this great site called nysonglines. It lists important historical info along the individual streets of ny. So this is macdougal street in Greenwich village moving from the northern end (w8th st) to the bottom end (prince st):


Note Macdougal runs a little south of this map into soho too



just around the corner from macdougal st on w8th st is electric lady

Electric Lady Studios, at 52 West 8th Street, in New York City's Greenwich Village, is a recording studio originally built by Jimi Hendrix and designed by John Storyk in 1970. Hendrix was the first major music artist to own his own recording studio.[citation needed] A variety of artists have recorded music there, including Billy Cobham, Curtis Mayfield, Carly Simon, Peter Frampton, David Bowie, Christina Aguilera, Stevie Wonder, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, John Lennon, Billy Joel, The Clash, Frank Zappa, The Rolling Stones, Guns N' Roses (Chinese Democracy Sessions),Patti Smith, Kiss, Weezer, Interpol, Ryan Adams, Steve Earle, Al Green, the Dave Matthews Band, Rancid, D'Angelo and Common (as well as the majority of the Soulquarians).

In 1968, Hendrix and his manager Michael Jeffery had invested jointly in the purchase of the Generation Club in Greenwich Village. Their initial plans to reopen the club were scrapped when the pair decided that the investment would serve them much better as a recording studio. The studio fees for the lengthy Electric Ladyland sessions were astronomical, and Jimi was constantly in search of a recording environment that suited him.

Construction of the studio took nearly double the amount of time and money as planned: permits were delayed numerous times, the site flooded due to heavy rains during demolition, and sump pumps had to be installed (then soundproofed) after it was determined that the building sat on the tributary of an underground river. A six-figure loan from Warner Brothers was required to save the project.

Designed by architect and acoustician John Storyk, the studio was made specifically for Hendrix, with round windows and a machine capable of generating ambient lighting in a myriad of colors. It was designed to have a relaxing feel to encourage Jimi's creativity, but at the same time provide a professional recording atmosphere. Engineer Eddie Kramer upheld this by refusing to allow any drug use during session work. Artist Lance Jost painted the studio in a psychedelic space theme.[1]

Hendrix spent only four weeks recording in Electric Lady, most of which took place while the final phases of construction were still ongoing. An opening party was held on August 26, 1970 and the following day Hendrix created his last ever studio recording: a cool and tranquil instrumental known only as "Slow Blues". He then boarded an Air India flight for London to perform at the Isle of Wight Festival, and died less than three weeks later.


along w8th street


SE Corner at MacDougal (32 W 8th): Versailles clothing was 8th Street Bookshop, classic Beat bookstore; Bob Dylan was introduced to Allen Ginsberg here in 1964.


176: Was the Jumble Shop, Prohibition-era tearoom; later Shakespeare's.


171: Tenth Church of Christ Scientist was built in 1890 as a Romanesque factory building designed by Renwick, Aspinwall and Russell. In 1921 it was acquired by the Christian Scientists and in 1966 the church gave it its current virtually windowless Modernist facade. On the right is my pic of it Saturday. It’s being restored into condos. Both shots are taken from inside macdougal alley across the street.



Created 1833 as stables for the houses behind it along Washington Square North. It’s one of the very few real London-like “mews” left in ny:

Jackson Pollock (1912 – 1956) stayed in No. 9 in 1949-50.


15 1/2-17 1/2 were the first site of the Whitney Museum. Gertrude Vanderbuilt Whitney (1875–1942) had her studio there.


In front of No. 15 is one of New York's last gaslights.


10-10 1/2 was playwrights salon in 1960s


more macdougal alley




continuing south on macdougal street

NE Corner (27 Washington Square North): This building has been the home of Matthew Broderick and Uta Hagen.


across the street is Washington square park, currently undergoing heavy renovation


Washington Square Park

Originally a marsh surrounding Minetta Brook, in the early years of New York this area was used as a graveyard for slaves and yellow fever victims, a dueling ground and a place of execution. Near the northwest corner can be found the Hanging Tree, perhaps the oldest tree in Manhattan. It's apparently not true that the Marquis de Lafayette on his 1824 visit to New York witnessed the festive hanging of 20 highwaymen here, but Rose Butler was hanged here in 1820, the last person in New York State to be executed for arson.

In 1826 this area was designated the Washington Military Parade Grounds, which soon was transformed into a public park. Washington Square was at one point the center of New York society, later becoming the unofficial quadrangle of NYU. In 1961 it was the site of protests over a police crackdown on folksinging, and in 1963, local activists kicked cars out of the park. The present landscaping of the park dates to 1971.

SE Corner: The hanging tree


29 ( SW corner): Eleanor Roosevelt took an apartment here in 1942; it was her main residence from FDR's death in 1945 until 1949.



33 (NW corner): NYU's Hayden Hall, built in 1957 as a resident for law students, incorporates the Holley Chambers Hotel, formerly at No. 36, where you could spend the night for $2.50 in 1939. (''HC'' can still be seen over the door.) Theodore Roosevelt is claimed as a former guest here, but the building dates back only to 1929, when it was built as the Knott Apartment Hotel.

37 (SW corner): Notable terra cotta on this 1928 building.


In the southwest corner of the park the chess players can be found who were featured in Searching for Bobby Fischer. Playing them for money is a bad idea.


137 (NW Corner): NYU School of Law Lawyering Program is on the site of Polly's Restaurant, run by Evanston-born anarchist Paula Holladay. Upstairs was home to the Liberal Club (1913-19), whose membership seems to have been a who's who of radical writers and intellectuals: Emma Goldman, Max Eastman, Margaret Sanger, Jack London, Upton Sinclair, Lincoln Steffens, Sinclair Lewis, Sherwood Anderson and Theodore Dreiser have all been claimed as members. Also the meetingplace of Heterodoxy, which Mabel Dodge described as a club for "unorthodox women, women who did things and did them openly." Earlier, the building was the home of Nathaniel Currier (partner of Ives).



Provincetown Playhouse

133: Pioneering off-Broadway theater that featured the talents of Eugene O’Neill, Edna St. Vincent Millay, e.e. cummings, Djuna Barnes, Paul Robeson, Tallulah Bankhead, etc. Bette Davis made her stage debut here. Now does children's theater.



131: This building was not, as legend has it, built for Aaron Burr, but was, like 127 and 129, built about 1829 in the Federal style.

129: La Lanterna di Vittorio, NYU hangout with nice garden. In the basement is The Bar Next Door, an intimate jazz room. Was Eve's Hangout (1925-26), tearoom and speakeasy run by Eve Addams, "Queen of the Third Sex"; "Men Admitted But Not Welcome" was the sign. Closed by police; Addams was convicted of obscenity and deported for writing a story collection called Lesbian Love.

Note pineapples on railing--an old symbol of hospitality.



the other (east) side of macdougal here below wsp is sadly one long nyu building, but it had a lot of history:


SE Corner (40 Washington Square South): NYU School of Law's Vanderbilt Hall (1951). Rico Fonseca, "The Artist of Greenwich Village NYC," can often be found here with his psychedelic works. (true, but not last Saturday--  it was freezing!)

Eugene O'Neill had a room in a boarding house formerly on the corner here (at No. 38 Washington Square South) in 1916, when he was having an affair with Louise Bryant--Mrs. John Reed.


146: Replaced a building that housed The Calypso, a Caribbean restaurant (noted for its curry) where author James Baldwin worked as a waiter. His friends would often drop by to see him--like Paul Robeson, Marlon Brando, Eartha Kitt and Henry Miller.

144: Another building replaced by the law school was used by Anais Nin as a print shop--she self-published her first three books here.

138: Was the address of The Bat, an Italian restaurant noted in the 1939 WPA Guide.



continuing south to the next crossblock, which is w3rd st

SW Corner (110 W. 3rd): NYU law school's D'Agostino Hall (1986). "A fine work," says the AIA Guide.


130-132: Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women in this 1852 house.


122: Macdougal Ale House is in a Romanesque tenement.


same building in whole. Taken from off the street in minetta alley.


116: Below Frequency ("body piercing/watches") and Spring Gallery (Chinese gifts) is the storied space of Alibi. It was previously the Wreck Room and before that Scrap Bar, a punkish bar with post-industrial decor. In the 1970s, it had been El Cafe, a lesbian bar. In the 1950s it was the Gas Light Cafe, the "quintessential Beat hangout"; it launched the Village poetry-reading craze with readings by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Kerouac, Ginsberg, Corso, LeRoi Jones et al.; Bob Dylan played here and stayed in a room upstairs. Before that it was Louis' Luncheon, hangout for writers, Ziegfield Follies chorus girls, gays and lesbians.



114: Esperanto Café ("always open") was the Kettle of Fish (now on Christopher Street), hangout of Village characters like Joe Gould and photographer Weegee. Bob Dylan had a fight here with Andy Warhol over Edie Sedgwick.



this brings us to macdougal &  bleecker streets

aka the crossroads of Greenwich village


100 (NE corner): to the left, another café replaced Cafe Borgia when its owners retired after 60 years. a beaux arts tenement that went up in 1904.


I was only showing the eastside of macdougal, so before we cross bleecker I am backing up to w3rd st again to show the west side of it around here.

SW Corner at w3rd st: Ben’s pizza (since 1966) & bleecker bob’s records


Cafe Reggio

121: America’s oldest coffeeshop, Authentically charming since 1927. Featured in Godfather II, Serpico, Next Stop Greenwich Village, and the original Shaft.

JFK gave a speech out front in 1959.



119: Mamoun’s Falafel, opened in 1971, is said to be the first (of many) falafel joint in town.


117: Olive Tree Cafe, launched 1969, Mediterranean joint where you can write on the tables with chalk. Used to be the Cock and Bull; before that it was Swing Rendezvous, a 1940s lesbian bar. Became The Underground in 1967, noted for its psychedelic light screen. Now The Comedy Cellar, which boasts talent like Colin Quinn, Jerry Seinfeld and Jon Stewart. chappelle likes to pop in here unannounced, too.


teddy kennedy greets you at the below street level door to the comedy cellar


115 (NW Corner of minetta lane): Cafe Wha?, a long-running Greenwich Village club where Bob Dylan had his first NYC gig, and Jimi Hendrix gained fame.

Cafe Wha? is a club in Greenwich Village in Manhattan, New York City that has been home to various musicians and comedians. Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Springsteen, The Velvet Underground, Kool and the Gang, Peter, Paul & Mary, Woody Allen, Lenny Bruce, Joan Rivers, Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor, and many others all began their careers at the Wha? During the 1960s, it was owned by Manny Roth, uncle of David Lee Roth.

A little known appearance of the Jimi Hendrix Experience occurred on a weekend in early August 1967. Are You Experienced had not yet been released in America but word of their recent Monterey Pop Festival appearance was beginning to spread. The Café Wha? had scheduled The Animals along with Richie Havens for a Friday night show, but when people began to arrive they learned that lead singer Eric Burdon had cancelled due to a sickness with one of the band members. Instead, Havens would headline the show with the Jimi Hendrix Experience as the opening act. Their set consisted of most of what would be on their American debut, played with incredible energy on the small club stage. The performance was so powerful that when it came time for Havens, he slowly walked to the stage dragging his sitar behind him, turned to the audience and muttered “How do you follow something like that?”. Not to be out done, he too played a great set. The reason for this rare appearance of the Experience was speculated to have been a favor from Hendrix to the club owner for a fee of a few hundred dollars. There was also the connection between the Experience manager, former Animals bassist Chas Chandler. Whatever the reason, it was a night to be remembered by the audience lucky enough to have been there.

Cafe Wha? is located at 115 Macdougal Street, between Bleecker and West 3rd Streets, and is about two blocks from Washington Square Park.


Minetta Tavern

113 (SW Corner of minetta lane): An Italian restaurant founded in 1937, it was a meeting place for Ezra Pound, e.e. cummings, Ernest Hemingway, etc. Joe Gould worked on his Oral History of the World here; murals depict Village history. Until 1929 was The Black Rabbit, a speakeasy run by Eve Adams before Eve’s Hangout; Eugene O'Neill and Max Bodenheim were customers. Reader’s Digest was founded in the basement in 1923. The restaurant appears in the movie Jimmy Blue Eyes as La Trattoria, a mob-run joint--which is not so far-fetched, given that the owner was busted for running an Ecstasy ring in 2000.



107: Village Ma Thai was Rienzi's coffeehouse, a James Dean hangout. "If a couple meets at Rienzi's they break up at Figaro's and vice versa"--New York Unexpurgated.


99: Hummus Place was Kati Roll Company, Indian street food. Before that the Samurai Bar, aka The Smallest Bar in New York.


93 (NW corner at Bleecker St): It's easier to find the painted-over old name, Carpo's Cafe. But it's most notable as the former site of the San Remo, famous bohemian hangout of William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Miles Davis, Jackson Pollock, W.H. Auden, Dylan Thomas, James Baldwin, William Styron, James Agee, Frank O'Hara, Village character Maxwell Bodenheim, photographer Weegee, etc. Gore Vidal once picked up Jack Kerouac here. Lost popularity because the bartenders beat up the customers once too often. The setting of beat novel Go, it also appears as The Masque in Kerouac's The Subterraneans. Dawn Powell in The Golden Spur cited it as one of the four bars that defined the boundaries of New York.

These folks below are standing in front of it


Caffe del Marre

SW Corner (89 Macdougal): Formerly Mac Dougal's Cafe, before that a funeral parlor.


79-81: Cafe Dante, with trattotia and gelateria. Established 1915. (my fav olde village coffeshop)



77: New York Rifle Club, an Italian shooting society better known as Tiro a Segno, or "Hit the Target." Members have included Fiorella Laguardia, Enrico Caruso and Garibaldi.


69: Villa Mosconi


William F. Passannante Playground

NW Corner at Houston St: Named for a speaker pro tem of the New York State Assembly, a lifelong Villager and a champion of the neighborhood.


backing up again & looking at the eastside of macdougal, south of bleecker and le figaro:

Macdougal-Sullivan Gardens

74-96: These 1844 buildings, which had become slums by the early 20th Century, were renovated in 1921 by William Sloane Coffin Sr.'s Hearth and Home Corporation. A private garden is in the center of the development.

No. 92-94 was owned by Bob Dylan in 1966-68.





finally, here on the right side is macdougal-sullivan gardens (terrace homes) from across passanante playground from Houston


crossing Houston street into soho and continuing south on the last stretch of macdougal

you can see trump's soho building going up down there


a look east from Houston st


51 (SW corner): Something Special, a coffeeshop and mail drop used by numerous nearby notables, including Patti Smith, the Beastie Boys, Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker (who also used to work here). The building to the north, demolished for the widening of Houston Street, is said to have housed a bar that was part of Joseph Kennedy's rumrunning business.


some kind of slow renovation on this side of the street



on the east side st. anthony’s has the old separate boy-girl doors


54: Rosenberg Jewelry store was blowd up real good in the movie Men in Black.



38 (SW Corner at Prince St): Provence, noted for its Bastille Day celebrations


this is it for madougal st, it ends with father Fagan square at prince street in soho, 6th avenue is nearby


a final look back north on macdougal



*** I hope you enjoyed a leisurely “annotated” walk down macdougal st, a former bohemian enclave and a lesser known former little italy in manhattan ***




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great pictures and lots of information. thanks! I remember distinctly when Caffe del Mare was still a funeral home (about 25 years ago). The thought of eating in that location still creeps me out (I'm always tempted to tell the sidewalk diners of its past history as I walk by on a warm summer night). And I sorely miss the old Cafe Borgia diagonally across the street. Pre-Starbucks it (along with few other similar places in the area) was the place to go for espresso/cappucino--dimly lit and very "Olde New York."

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Pre-Starbucks it (along with few other similar places in the area) was the place to go for espresso/cappucino--dimly lit and very "Olde New York."


REALLY?  Sounds like my kinda street!!

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