December 21, 2011

From the Arch and Back Again: A Nighttime Stroll to See the Holiday Lights

Running around to complete holiday preparations is often so frantic that the idea of taking an extra leisurely walk for pleasure seems somewhat ridiculous, if not inefficient. Yet, taking this additional stroll, especially in a city known to produce stress, provides the means to walk off some of the excessive pressures of the holiday season. In addition to the benefits of unwinding an overly tight psyche, a restorative walk around the neighborhood can include the pleasures of the city draped in bright holiday colors. It's a nice change from our city uniform of browns, grays and blacks.

We begin at the Washington Square Arch, our little Paris-like monument in Greenwich Village's famous park. As a neighbor, I am proud of the Arch, the holiday tree, and the views of the Empire State Building, festooned in red and green, in the distance up Fifth Avenue at 34th Street.

Holiday Lights, Greenwich Village, 2011

Taxis veer south on Fifth Avenue toward its finale in the Village at the Arch.



Holiday Lights, Greenwich Village, 2011

New York would be hard to imagine without the beacon of the Empire State Building.

Holiday Lights, Greenwich Village, 2011

Strolling up the lower stretch of Fifth Avenue we encounter apartment buildings of some architectural distinction. A tree with red ornaments and enough white lights to cause a power failure decorates the lobby of Harvey Wiley Corbett's One Fifth Avenue, the neighborhood's Art Deco skyscraper.

Holiday Lights, Greenwich Village, 2011

The Empire State Building does present itself as a worthy landmark for the city. I mean - just look at this.

Holiday Lights, Greenwich Village, 2011

It's time to turn west on W. 10th Street. On one of the most beautiful blocks in New York, at least by daylight, a few residents have made the effort to decorate their stoops, windows, and doors.

Holiday Lights, Greenwich Village, 2011

Most Americans, dependent upon automobiles, typically drive around particular neighborhoods and street blocks to see the lights. In the city, we walk. I suppose it's possible to hail a taxi and give the driver directions to drive around to look at New York holiday lights at night, but I wouldn't advise it.

Holiday Lights, Greenwich Village, 2011

The visual hegemony of Christmas, and I am sorry I just typed that phrase, still insists that the holiday should conform to the landscape of the nineteenth century. Quaint New England villages or Dickens's London provide the standard. Actually, Greenwich Village, with its human-scale architecture, winding streets, and century's old townhouses, comes close to fulfilling holiday expectations.

Holiday Lights, Greenwich Village, 2011

Many famous people have lived along this block on W. 10th at one time or another: Mark Twain, Emma Lazarus, Sinclair Lewis, Emily Post, and Hart Crane.

Holiday Lights, Greenwich Village, 2011

Also Kahlil Gibran, Dashiell Hammett, Dorothy Thompson, Edward Albee.

Holiday Lights, Greenwich Village, 2011

Sean Parker, the founder of Napster and co-founder of Facebook, bought the house at 40 W. 10th St. Considering the aforementioned company, I guess he aspires to write a book or a play.

Holiday Lights, Greenwich Village, 2011

At the end of the quiet stroll along the intersection of W. 10th Street with 6th Avenue, we encounter our busy New Yorkers hurrying up and down the avenue sidewalks. A few friends who have lived in the city all their lives have remarked to me that this section along 6th Avenue near the Bigelow Pharmacy has basically looked the same for decades.

Holiday Lights, Greenwich Village, 2011

Holiday Lights, Greenwich Village, 2011

At Waverly Place, we turn east for the return to Washington Square. The scene at the Washington Square Hotel's restaurant looks cozy.

Holiday Lights, Greenwich Village, 2011

Ahhh, here we are back at the Arch. The tree looks majestic. It's been a nice walk. The two Washingtons, "Washington at War" on the left of the arch by Herman MacNeil (1916) and "Washington at Peace" on the right by Alexander Stirling Calder (1918), signal the end of yet another walk toward home.

Holiday Lights, Greenwich Village, 2011

Happy holidays, everyone.

3 comments:

Phil Davis said...

It looks lovely. I hope you have a very Merry Christmas. Let's get together soon after and catch up.

Jon said...

Beutiful post and pics Tery. Merry Xmas to you too!

cindy said...

Thanks WOTBA for taking us on a stroll through the Washington Square Arch area. For those of us who can't get to NYC this Christmas. Happy Holidays to you!