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The Village Street: Hipstamatic Images of Greenwich Village, a Map, and a Walk

The Village has its share of green spots, but the downtown equivalent of the village green - the shared communal space that traditional villagers used for grazing and celebrations - would probably be its famously intricate web of streets. The off-grid narrow alleys and cobblestoned streets make the neighborhood, especially in its western sections, one of the most entertaining to explore on foot. The scale of the buildings, residences and shops encourages intermingling and stopping for a chat, the kind of interactions neighborhood activist Jane Jacobs noted in her books on the city. When developers propose a gargantuan project for the Village, the natives, not surprisingly, grow alarmed.

While exploring the streets to research the previous post, 25 Radical Things to Do in Greenwich Village, I took many images of Village scenes using the Hipstamatic app for the iPhone. A popular app for camera phones (see related post), the Hipstamatic's filters, limited field of vision, and square frames create a kind of heightened or altered reality. This sort of illusion seems suitable to the traditions and myth of the New York neighborhood.

I have selected several of the images here to discuss briefly, but I've put fifty of them on Flickr WOTBA (a place for supplemental images). I've also documented the sites represented by the images on a Google map and suggested a walk. The 1.7-mile walk follows a path I've followed several times over the last month, one I've enjoyed, and the images I selected tend to be grouped along this walk. I've written about other parts of the Village on this site, so streets like Bleecker may be better represented in other posts.

Waverly Restaurant, 6th Avenue and Waverly Place

(above) Waverly Restaurant, 6th Avenue and Waverly Place. Fans of the TV series Mad Men will recall that our favorite handsome ad man, Don Draper, moved to this area of the Village following his divorce. I like to think he lives above the restaurant. The place is actually a pretty nice diner, with comforting plates of food. Part of the decor consists of framed photographs of celebrities of years past who have since lost some of their distinction.

Jeffrey's, 172 Waverly

(above) Jeffrey's, 172 Waverly Place, is one of the neighborhood new hot places, but the combination grocery store and restaurant fits in well in its surroundings. Stop by for a lunch at the counter or pick up selections to go. Hope that they still have carrot cake when you visit.

Taim, Waverly Place near 7th Ave

(above) Taim, 222 Waverly Place. A tiny place specializing in falafel, hummus, and related Israeli fare. Lines go out the door, but stay in place - the line moves quickly - for one of the best sandwiches around.

Abingdon Square

(above) Abingdon Square. Captured on a day leading up to Halloween, hence the pumpkins assembled for the neighborhood party, the square is one of several places to gather for conversation or, in most cases, to simply sit alone and read. Many New Yorkers live in small apartments, so public parks like this serve an important social and psychological function.

Li-Lac Chocolates, 8th Avenue

(above) Several stores such as Li-Lac Chocolates, 40 8th Avenue, have catered to the surrounding area for decades. They offer specialty items, too, such as a chocolate Empire State Building in three different sizes.

This self-guided walk begins in Washington Square Park, proceeds up Waverly Place, and with a jog north on W. 4th (noticed I said "north"), it knocks around some charming scenery in the northern reaches of the West Village. Back south on Hudson, the walk continues along Bedford and then eventually swings back up to the park, via Minetta Street and Minetta Lane. The placemarks on the map indicate locations in the images. View here or, for the full effect, see them enlarged on Flickr.



The images were taken at different times in October and November, 2010. It's rather obviously, in many of the images, the fall season.


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