A Walk to a Mews and Alley, Unplowed

(Also read this updated story from April 2012 on Washington Mews as it undergoes a renovation.)

Even as the snow started to come down, and the snow was blowing hard by that Sunday night, one wondered when the plows would come. As the night fell into day, the city awoke under a great canopy of powdery snow, the kind more typical of Aspen or Vail than Uptown or Downtown, and the snow had arranged itself in artistically creative drifts. As the snow fell from the sky, it turned cars into white abstract sculptures, burying the hoods and roofs and settling around the tires, demobilizing even many in motion and abandoned in the middle of the street.

The scene on Monday morning presented a pretty sight, but still the plows, for many, especially in the outer boroughs and on side streets throughout the city, were nowhere in sight. The plow trucks, as expected, took care of the big avenues first, and then the smaller side streets, although hours and days would go by before many of these were cleared. Emergency vehicles could not find their way to rescue the suffering. The city is currently investigating why the plows did not come.

MacDougal Alley, Wednesday, December 29, 2010 at 1:37 p.m.

Forget the alleys. A few days after the storm, I decided to peek in on two of the most famous small alleys in Greenwich Village - MacDougal Alley and Washington Mews - to see how they fared during the blizzard. These little places, nestled on either side of Fifth Avenue between Washington Square North and 8th Street, with MacDougal Alley on the west and Washington Mews on the east, seemed removed in place and time from the modern politics of snowplows, winter postcards from the past.

Washington Mews, December 30, 2010 1:41 pm
MacDougal Alley, December 30, 2010, 3:28 pm.

MacDougal Alley once included a stable at No. 19 remodeled by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney in 1907 for her own studio, and subsequent acquisitions of eight more buildings served as the foundation for the Whitney Museum of American Art. Washington Mews was once lined with stables on its north side, and the south side features hobbit-ready houses built in the 1930s. NYU owns many of the buildings here. The scale of the tall apartment buildings nearby on Fifth Avenue makes the alley and mews seem all that more diminutive. It's quiet on these two small snow-hushed streets, enough perhaps to hear the ghost sounds of dependable horses, their whinnies, neighs and thumping of hooves as they prepare for the next snow.

Images by Walking Off the Big Apple.

View MacDougal Alley and Washington Mews in a larger map


NewYorker said...

I like that part of the city around NYU :P

Pascale said...

mm MacDougal Alley... that's a heck of a lot of snow! Happy New Year Teri !