New York City William Hemp New York Enclaves

ISBN 13: 9781400047352

New York Enclaves

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9781400047352: New York Enclaves

First published in 1975 by Clarkson Potter, New York Enclaves offers readers an intimate glimpse of twenty-six of New York’s most beloved hidden spots. All of the architectural gems that it celebrated a quarter-century ago still exist and continue to enchant visitors and native New Yorkers alike. In this revised edition, author William Hemp has updated his text and added several new pen-and-ink drawings. His animated commentary illuminates the nooks and crannies that are easily overlooked in the noise and bustle of modern Manhattan. Hemp’s lively exploration of this unique city includes treks to South Street Seaport, where Manhattan received its reputation as a “haven for ships,” and through the cast-iron structures of SoHo—the “crusty old great-grandfathers” of New York’s skyscrapers. Explore the literary legacy of Greenwich Village, including Edna St. Vincent Millay’s unique home on Bedford Street, and Patchin Place, where e.e. cummings wrote his poetry. Or poke about MacDougal Alley, where Jackson Pollock created many of his masterpieces, and relax in Central Park’s Strawberry Fields, one of the enclaves added to this new edition.

Hemp’s charming illustrations and stories bring to life the lore of Manhattan’s richly historical sites. Become a real New Yorker—regardless of where you live—as you discover these architectural treasures and their picturesque views.

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About the Author:

WILLIAM H. HEMP is the author and artist of three books, including If You Ever Go to Dublin Town and Taos: Landmarks & Legends. He also worked as a television talk-show host in Taos, New Mexico. He lives near the ocean on Long Island, New York, with his wife, Maggie.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter 1

South Street Seaport

White-maned walt whitman once described New York as the City of Ships, and South Street, in the early nineteenth century, was known as the street of ships. In those days the waterfront was a forest of masts, spars, and jibbooms. The bowsprits of clipper ships like the Flying Cloud stretched clear across the barnacled docks, poking their nautical noses almost into the windows of the ship chandlers' offices opposite. The street, lined with saloons like Jip and Jake's and Shanghai Brown's, swarmed with tattooed sailors, travelers, and townspeople scurrying to market. The odor of rum, molasses, wine, and spices was intoxicating.

You get a taste of the salty life on the old New York waterfront by setting course for the South Street Seaport. Here, a conglomeration of cobblestoned blocks, bounded by Peck Slip and Pearl, Front, John, and South Streets, has been restored in the heart of the old Fulton Fish Market, a flotsam and jetsam affair anchored along the East River.

On entering the seaport, you are welcomed by the Titanic Memorial Lighthouse, a monument to the 1,505 souls who died as heroes on April 15, 1912, in the North Atlantic collision with an iceberg of the White Star leviathan declared "unsinkable." At the foot of Fulton Street, beady-eyed gulls hover over a pilothouse that pipes you aboard the flotilla of tall ships and small boats floating proudly at the piers. These include the 1911 four-masted Barque Peking; the 1908 lobster-red Ambrose Lightship; the 1930 canary-yellow

W.O. Decker tugboat; the fire-engine-red tugboat Helen McAllister; the 1885 schooner Pioneer; and the square-rigger Wavertree, launched in Scotland in 1885.

Just west of the wharf and Pier 17, a multitiered marketplace, stands Schermerhorn Row, a staggering sight of high-pitched roofs and Flemish bond brickwork. This business block was built during the War of 1812 by Peter Schermerhorn, a prominent citizen who ran a ship chandler's business on Water Street. It is the only remaining complex of commercial buildings in the Federal style of architecture in Manhattan.

The galleries of South Street Seaport Museum on Water Street contain a treasure trove of nautical memorabilia that includes the Der Scutt ocean-liner collection, Monarchs of the Seas. It showcases plans, models, and film footage evoking the majesty of a time when ocean liners like Cunard's RMS Queen Mary and the Art Deco SS Normandie were the last word in luxury travel.

Time to break for lunch and wet your whistle? Then land at the Bridge Café at 279 Water Street, housed in a sagging three-story red clapboard structure snuggling in the shadow of Roebling's masterpiece, the Brooklyn Bridge. The proud owners proclaim that it was originally listed as a wine and porter pub as early as 1794, making it Manhattan's oldest bar in the district's oldest remaining wood-frame building.

To landlubbers and seafarers alike, the South Street Seaport and the old Schermerhorn block tell the story of New York as a seaport city. By casting an eye about the timeworn cobblestoned streets and exploring the well-scrubbed ships, you are transported to 1524, when Giovanni da Verrazano, a Florentine in the service of Francis I, rounded Sandy Hook and sailed the Dauphine into New York Harbor, launching Manhattan Island's history as a haven for ships.

Washington-Harrison Street Houses

Just a stone's throw from the Hudson River and not very far from where the 110-story twin towers of the World Trade Center stood until tragically destroyed by a terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, huddles a small group of historic pink-brick dwellings known as the Washington-Harrison Street Houses. They make a touching tableau juxtaposed between two towering housing complexes on a cobblestoned street in the trendy district now known as TriBeCa (Triangle Below Canal).

These early Federal houses were not always anchored to this spot. Some were once situated two and a half blocks away amid the wagonloads of cabbages, cauliflowers, radishes, and rutabagas that once comprised the old Washington Street produce market. When that busy enterprise moved up to the Bronx, the federal government, under a special grant for historical restoration, provided the funds needed to relocate these houses to their present site at the corner of Greenwich and Harrison Streets.

The dwellings date from 1767 to 1828 and were built for specific owners on property that was originally part of the well-known farm of Annetje Jans. The land was granted to her by the director general, portly Wouten Van Twiller, in 1636. As the city grew up from Wall Street in the early nineteenth century, the commercial activities of the Washington Market expanded northward until, by the end of the century, the entire area was wholly commercial. By then there were no more than a handful of the original town houses left. Now that they have been grouped together and restored to their original glory in 1972-1974, the Washington-Harrison Street Houses present a late-eighteenth-century to early-nineteenth-century profile that exists nowhere else in the city of New York.

Who lived in this L-shaped cluster of charming dwellings during their early days? Well, we do know that the house situated at No. 31 Harrison Street was built in 1827 and originally owned by Jacob Ruckle. It is typical of the small but comfortable dwellings of the merchant class of New York City in the early nineteenth century. The dwellings at Nos. 29 and 33 Harrison belonged to Sarah R. Lambert and Ebenezer Miller, respectively. Nos. 315 and 317 Washington Street, now moved to Nos. 25 and 27 Harrison, were designed and built by John McComb, the city's first native-born architect. He also created New York's City Hall, completed in 1812 and considered to be the most beautiful in all fifty states. The McComb house at No. 27, with a fan-lit doorway, was the architect's own residence and one of the very few surviving Manhattan houses dating back to the eighteenth century-1796 to be exact. These houses once stood on what was once a very picturesque spot, beside a cove on a small spit of land, just one hundred feet from the river.

The Washington-Harrison Street Houses, with their high-pitch roofs punctuated by dormer windows and tall chimneys, show the craftsmanlike attention to detail that is so characteristic of the Federal style. If John McComb were alive today, he would be content to know that the masterpiece in which he lived during his early years as an architect is now as sparkling fresh and spanking clean as it was back in 1796. That was back in the days when the New York Stock Exchange was doing business beneath a grove of buttonwood trees in the open air on Wall Street.

Mott Street

When the fieldstone Church of the Transfiguration, at 25 Mott Street, was built in 1801, there was not a Chinese person to be found anywhere in New York. Then, in 1807, Pung-hua Wing Chong, John Jacob Astor's manservant, visited the city. Whether he was the first Chinese to settle on Manhattan Island is anybody's guess. Some say it was Quimbo Appo, who supposedly arrived in the 1840s. Others contend it was Ah Ken, a Cantonese merchant who opened a cigar store on Park Row. Whoever it was, he started Mott Street on the happy road to becoming the Main Street of New York's Chinatown, once called Five Points. With a population of about 150,000 residents, the enclave is now the largest Chinese community in the western hemisphere.

Today, Mott Street is as colorful as a dragon kite, as surprising as a fortune cookie, and home to the throngs of Chinese people scattered about the metropolitan area. It is to this cacophonous carnival below Canal Street and off Chatham Square, where chop suey was invented in 1896, that they come on weekends to shop, play mah-jongg, meet old friends, and dine in the exotic atmosphere of the ancient Orient.

One of the city's great adventures is a stroll down Mott Street at sundown amid the hodgepodge of tea parlors, restaurants, and souvenir stands. As you meander along, a peek into shop windows rewards you with mouthwatering displays of roast ducks with golden-brown skins.

The many-splendored treasure to be found on Mott Street is the rich collection of Chinese restaurants, some upstairs, some at street level, some subterranean. The fun comes in searching out a favorite for yourself. The cuisine is always authentic and prepared in one of many sumptuous styles, from the long-favored Cantonese to the more exotic Mandarin, spicy Szechuan, or hard-to-beat Hunan. Be it at a spotless lunch counter or in a lacquered emporium, you can feast on such favorites as scallops in black bean sauce or shredded beef beneath a warm blanket of snow peas.

Searching for a bit of antiquity? Well, you'll find it at 32 Mott Street General Store, the very oldest in Chinatown. This venerable emporium has been offering tea sets, brass Buddhas, jade statues, and decorative urns since 1891, when Lee Lok first opened its doors.

Strolling east off Mott to 13 Doyers Street, you arrive at the Nom Wah Tea Parlor, which is situated at the bend in the narrow lane. Since it opened in 1920, this tile-floored tea parlor has been a popular favorite with New Yorkers and visitors alike for its genuine Chinese tea luncheon. This usually consists of dim sum, an assortment of Oriental pastries such as minced pork with vegetables encased in a wonton covering, or ha gow, chopped shrimp with mixed Chinese vegetables encased inside a plump dumpling, served to your table from steaming carts on wheels.

For dessert, you might order a Frisbee-size almond cookie washed down with a scalding cup of oolong tea. Then queue up at the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory at 65 Bayard for a double scoop of green tea ice cream.

The Chinese New Year falls on the first full moon after January 21, and dancing dragons and serpentine chains of costumed children roll around the ...

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