St. Luke's Place, the designation for a beautiful block of Leroy Street in the lower West Village west of 7th Avenue, is worth visiting just for its charming vine-covered Greek and Renaissance Revival townhouses, but it also exudes some powerful cultural and historical caché.
Line up the numbers of the houses, and the literary, artistic and political lives unfold
- #1, once home of artist Theodore Roszak
- #4, the house of Audrey Hepburn's blind character in the movie Wait Until Dark
- #6, Mayor Jimmy Walker's dandy pad
- #10, the Huxtables (exterior shot for The Cosby Show)
- #11, publisher Max Eastman and later, Timothy O'Leary
- #12 once home to novelist Sherwood Anderson
- #12 1/2 attorney Leonard Boudin and his daughter Kathy (Weather Underground)
- #14 poet Marianne Moore, #15 painter Paul Cadmus
- #16, Theodore Dreiser, who starred writing An American Tragedy here. (Information source, thanks to New York Songlines.) I should like to point out that these people did not necessarily live on the same block at the same time, especially the fictional ones. In my imagination, however, I like to think of the potential here for a fun block party. While Dreiser is flipping the burgers on the grill, Timothy O'Leary is making the lemonade.
When I visited New York during my teenage years, I walked around this area with my mother and some of our New York friends, and the images of the curving streets, genteel brick townhouses, lamp posts, hidden restaurants, and theaters made an enormous impression on me. I still continue to harbor a deep-rooted romantic attachment to this area, and exploring the neighborhood again gives me an opportunity to understand why.
Image: St. Luke's Place, New York.