Skip to main content

Lessons from East 10th Street

A walk on 10th Street from the Hudson River to the East River, or vice versa, affords many pleasures, including the opportunity to look at some of the city's most beautiful townhouses, local libraries, and historic churches, to sample the wares from small neighborhood stores, and to grab a decent cup of coffee. This sort of lateral city walk can also introduce visitors to some of the historical and visual distinctions between the west side and east side in this part of downtown.

Residential block of E. 10th from Fifth Ave. to University Place with townhouses from the 19th century

"The Ava"
9 East 10th Street, built in 1888
decorated in East Indian style with teakwood
once home to writer Dawn Powell

Devonshire House, detail
28 E. 10th Street at University Place
designed by architect Emery Roth, 1928

In general, the west side of Fifth Avenue tends to run formal and subdued in its color choices, while the East Village blocks, especially in the more eastern stretches in the Avenues, would be the more likely location to enjoy a brightly painted mural of cats and dogs or of a unicorn. The west side doesn't seem to go for this sort of thing, so that's why the myriad visual stimulations of E. 10th make for a rather fetching walk.

Grace Church
802 Broadway at E 10th


intersection of 4th Avenue and E 10th

Townhouses on the market
James Renwick, 1854
123-125 E 10th
St. Mark's Historic District
near intersection with Stuyvesant Street

Walking several blocks of any street most anywhere can provide a sense of the area. Whether there's variety, continuity, and above all else, visible evidence of human use (people out walking, playing, etc.), can provide a good sense of the health of a place. The idea of mixed use development, coupled with elements of surprise and delight, even a certain degree of messiness, is known among contemporary city observers and urban planners as essential elements of vital street life.

St. Marks Church in the Bowery
131 East 10th Street

Russian & Turkish Baths
268 E 10th

St. Nicholas of Myra Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Church
288 East 10th Street at Avenue A

Human scale buildings and visual breaks in conformity certainly entertain those of us who like to see the world on foot. The opposite scenario is unwelcome, both for walking types and the area itself - a bland conformity block after block, an anesthesia or blindness to the historical landscape we have inherited. So far, E. 10th is still okay.

apartment buildings in 300 block of E 10th Street
across the street from Tompkins Square Park

NYPL Tompkins Square Library
331 East 10th

Charlie Parker Place
E 10th and Avenue B
The jazz legend lived at 151 Avenue B from 1950-1954

Follow these square scenes of East 10th Street, and understand that each one deserves fuller appreciation and exploration. This area of Manhattan goes deep, encompassing the Dutch foundations of New York in Peter Stuyvesant's farm, the commercial and religious life of the 18th and 19th centuries, turn-of-the-century immigration from southern and Eastern Europe, the burgeoning bohemia of the Village in the 1910s and 1920s, the aspirations of public housing, the downtown scene, a revolution in jazz, a cultural center of Latino New York, the neighborhood of "Rent" and of rising rents, stories of old-time and recent residents who love the place, and the many dreams and anxieties of every business that has run its course here.

Public School 64
605 East 9th (rear view on E. 10th between Avenue B and Avenue C)
1904-1906 by C. B. J. Snyder
(note: The two previous posts on this website featured a building by Snyder. Crazy coincidence, that.) 

Urban Vets Animal Hospital
163 Avenue C (at E 10th)
mural by longtime area resident and artist Antonio "Chico" Garcia.
Garcia worked in the city for 35 years. He moved to Florida, but he has returned to NYC
since then to paint a mural on Grand Street. (Story on Curbed, Jan. 4, 2012)

Dog by Chico. Urban Vets.

A walk in any city should be as stimulating. Strolling East 10th Street at any given time is like what the pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus said about rivers. You can never step in the same street twice. This is especially true of New York and of this street in particular.

Unicorn by Chico


For more on West 10th, read these posts:
West 10th Street, From Fifth Avenue to Waverly Place
The Tenth Street Studio Building and a Walk to the Hudson River
From the Arch and Back Again: A Nighttime Stroll to See the Holiday Lights

For more on Chico, see this interview with the artist on The Local East Village, The New York Times, from November 7, 2011.


View A Walk on 10th Street in a larger map

Images by Walking Off the Big Apple made with the CameraBag app for the iPhone. Locate "Walking Off the Big Apple" on your mobile browser and stroll along. Walking the length of 10th Street from river to river is just a little over 2 miles.

Comments

Traci said…
Love the architecture and the murals.

Popular posts from this blog

Museums in New York Open on Mondays

Please see this post for current announcements of reopenings . Please consult the museum websites for changes in days and hours. UPDATED September 23, 2020 Advance tickets required for many museum reopenings. Please check museum websites for details. • The  Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)  reopened to the public on  August 27 , with new hours for the first month, through September 27: from 10:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday to the public; and from 10:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.  on Mondays for MoMA members on ly. Admission will be free to all visitors Tuesday through Sunday, through September 27, made possible by UNIQLO. See this  new post on WOTBA for a sense of the experience attending the museum . •  New-York Historical Society  reopened on  August 14  with an outdoor exhibition, "Hope Wanted: New York City Under Quarantine,” in the rear courtyard. The exhibit by activist Kevin Powell and photographer Kay Hickman will highlight how New Yorkers weathered the quarantine

From Penn Station to New York Landmarks: Measuring Walking Distance and Time in Manhattan

(revised 2017) How long does it take to walk from Penn Station/Madison Square Garden to well-known destinations in Manhattan? What are the best walking routes ? What if I don't want to see anything in particular but just want to walk around? In addition to the thousands of working commuters from the surrounding area, especially from New Jersey and Long Island who arrive at Penn Station via New Jersey Transit or the Long Island Rail Road, many people arrive at the station just to spend time in The City. Some have questions. Furthermore, a sporting event may have brought you to Madison Square Garden (above Penn Station), and you want to check out what the city offers near the event. This post if for you.  The map below should help you measure walking distances and times from the station to well-known destinations in Manhattan - Bryant Park , the Metropolitan Museum of Art , the Empire State Building , Times Square , Rockefeller Center , Washington Square Park , the High Line

25 Things To Do Near the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

(updated 2016) The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) at 11 W. 53rd Street is near many other New York City attractions, so before or after a trip to the museum, a short walk in any direction could easily take in additional experiences. Drawing a square on a map with the museum at the center, a shape bounded by 58th Street to the north and 48th Street to the south, with 7th Avenue to the west and Park Avenue to the east, proves the point of the area's cultural richness. (A map follows the list below.) While well-known sightseeing stops fall with these boundaries, most notably Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick's Cathedral, and the great swath of famous Fifth Avenue stores, cultural visitors may also want to check out places such as the Austrian Cultural Forum, the 57th Street galleries, the Onassis Cultural Center, and the Municipal Art Society. The image above shows an intriguing glimpse of the tops of two Beaux-Arts buildings through an opening of the wall inside MoMA's scu

25 Things to Do Near the Metropolitan Museum of Art

(updated) Sitting on the steps in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of those iconic things to do in New York City. On a sunny day, the wide steps can become crowded with the young and old, the tourist and the resident. It's tempting to stay awhile and soak in the sun and the sights. Everyone has reasons for lingering there, with one being the shared pleasure of people watching along this expansive stretch of Fifth Avenue, a painting come to life. Certainly, just getting off one's feet for a moment is welcome, especially if the previous hours involved walking through the entirety of art history from prehistoric to the contemporary. The entrance to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fifth Avenue The Metropolitan Museum of Art should be a singular pilgrimage, uninterrupted by feeble attempts to take in more exhibitions along Museum Mile. Pity the poor visitor who tries "to do" multiple museum exhibitions in one day, albeit ambitious, noble, and uplift

Traversing Manhattan: An Afternoon Trip to the Battery and Back Again

  Wherein the vaccinated sightseer from Northern Manhattan travels to the southern end of the island by means of the express bus, the MTA subway, and the NYC ferry, with a little sauntering on foot In Battery Park, during the first blushes of spring in New York. View of One World Trade Center Residents of the far north and far south of Manhattan are the ones most keenly aware that they live on an island. The north end of the borough tapers to a relatively small area of land, bounded by the confluence of the Harlem and Hudson Rivers and the waters of Spuyten Duyvil. The land is hilly and green, with an old growth forest. The Battery sits on the southern end, a land where the geography is defined by the meeting of the East River, the Hudson River, and the vast New York Harbor. Manhattan stretches a little over 13 miles on the long side and just 2.3, more or less, at its width. On 42nd Street, approaching Grand Central Terminal. A resident of the hilly northern terrain may sometimes long

Circling the Met: A Springtime Visit to Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum of Art

For a double feature of art and nature, the Metropolitan Museum of Art happens to be conveniently situated in Central Park. The front of the museum faces Fifth Avenue, its monumental wings stretching the blocks between E. 80th and E. 84th. The sides and the back of the museum are within easy walking distance of several prominent landmarks within the park.  Cedar Hill in Central Park Before a visit to the Met, consider taking a walk around the museum beginning on the southern side. A walk in the park can serve as a good preparation for a museum visit, because looking at or noticing the shapes and colors of the built and natural environment can enhance the art experience. Cedar Hill in Central Park The path south of the 79 Street Transverse leads to a scene at Cedar Hill very much like a panorama, with a vast wide-angle expanse of green grass and hill. Take the first path that leads back over 79th Street to the southern side of the museum. This path brilliantly disguises the motor traffi

At the New Moynihan Train Hall, and the Zen of Going Nowhere

After slowly wandering around the Moynihan Train Hall , opened earlier this year in the James A. Farley Post Office Building across from Penn Station, an Amtrak worker approached me and asked if he could help with directions. “No,” I replied, “I’m just here to look at the station.”  Moynihan Train Hall, between Eighth Avenue, Ninth Avenue, 31st Street, and 33rd Street in Midtown Manhattan I wasn’t taking a train anywhere, not an Amtrak train to Philadelphia or to Boston. I was here to look at this impressive, even enlightening building. The architectural design is somewhat restrained and serious. Bright signage at the Moynihan Train Hall At a time when the idea of actual travel is just picking up, for some New Yorkers like myself, just the novelty of seeing a new transportation project in the city seems to suffice. It’s like mental preparation for taking an actual trip.  Looking up I remember catching Amtrak trains at the old Penn Station, not the beautiful and monumental edifice that

Taking a Constitutional Walk

A long time ago individuals going out for a walk, especially to get fresh air and exercise, often referred to the activity as "taking a constitutional walk." The word "constitutional" refers to one's constitution or physical makeup, so a constitutional walk was considered beneficial to one's overall wellbeing. (Or, as some would prefer to call it, "wellness.") The phrase is more common in British literature than in American letters. As early as the mid-nineteenth century, many American commentators expressed concern that their countrymen were falling into lazy and unhealthy habits. Newspaper columnists and editorial writers urged their readers to take up the practice of the "constitutional" walk. One such essay, " Walking as an Exercise," originally printed in the Philadelphia Gazette and reprinted in New England Farmer , Volume 11, 1859, urges the people of farm areas to take up walking. City dwellers seemed to have the

14 Useful Mobile Apps for Walking New York City

Texting and walking at the same time is wrong. Talking on the phone while strolling down the street is wrong. Leaving the sidewalk to stop and consult the information on a cellphone, preferably while alone, is OK. What's on Walking Off the Big Apple's iPhone: A List Walkmeter GPS Walking Stopwatch for Fitness and Weight Loss . While out walking, Walkmeter tracks routes, time, speed, and elevation. This is an excellent app for recording improvised or impromptu strolls, especially with many unplanned detours. The GPS function maps out the actual route. The app keeps a running tally of calories burned while walking, useful for weight loss goals. Another welcome feature is the ability to switch over to other modes of activity, including cycling. An indispensable app for city walkers. $4.99  New York City Compass , designed by Francesco Bertelli, is an elegant compass calibrated for Manhattan, with indications for Uptown, East Side, Downtown, and West Side. While facing a cert

25 Radical Things to Do in Greenwich Village

A list of 25 things to Do in Greenwich Village with history of protest, old cafes, and signs of change. Hipstamatic iPhone images of contemporary Greenwich Village by Walking Off the Big Apple (Revised and updated.) Flipping through  Greenwich Village: A Photographic Guide by Edmund T. Delaney and Charles Lockwood with photographs by George Roos, a second, revised edition published in 1976, it’s easy to compare the black and white images with the look of today’s neighborhood and see how much the Village has changed. A long shot photograph of Washington Square taken up high from an apartment north of the park, and with the looming two towers of the World Trade Center off to the distant south in the background, reveals a different landscape than what we would encounter today.    On the north side of the park, an empty lot and two small buildings have since given way to NYU’s Kimmel Center and a new NYU Center for Academic and Spiritual Center Life. The Judson Memorial Church