Greenwich Street is a north-south street in the New York City borough of Manhattan. It extends from the intersection of Ninth Avenue and Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District at its northernmost end to its southern end at Battery Park, interrupted between Cortlandt Walk and Liberty Street by the World Trade Center site. As the World Trade Center is redeveloped, the street's sections will be reconnected.
Main east-west streets crossed include, from north to south, Christopher Street, Houston Street, Canal Street, and Chambers Street. Greenwich Street travels through the Meatpacking District, the West Village, Hudson Square, and Tribeca North of Canal Street, traffic travels northbound on Greenwich Street; south of Canal Street, it travels southbound.
By the late 18th century, lower Greenwich Street had become part of one of the most fashionable residential neighborhoods in the city, lined with four-story Federal-style mansions, although upper Greenwich street was home to artisans, shopkeepers and an enclave of free blacks. Greenwich Street still maintained its status as a choice address in 1820, but by the 1850s, the wealthy residents had fled uptown, and private residences on the street became unusual. One who stayed for a time was hotel owner Amos Eno, who left once he was "surrounded by immigrant boarding houses," according to his daughter. In 1873, the Butter and Cheese Exchange opened on the street, not far from where dairy products arrived daily at the freight railroad terminals. By 1882, a steam generation plant of the New York Steam Company was located at Greenwich and Dey Streets.
In the early 19th century, circus impresario John Bill Ricketts opened his "New Amphitheatre" on Greenwich streets, designed by Joseph-François Mangin, where sell-out crowds watched his "Equestrian Circus" which featured "clowns, tightrope walkers, tumblers, acrobatic riders, mounted Indians and fireworks." This continued a tradition for the area, as 150 years earlier "Vauxhall Gardens", which boasted a wax museum and fireworks and served afternoon teas, was put up by Samuel Fraunces, of Fraunces Tavern, near the present corner of Greenwich and Warren Streets.
In 1824, painter Thomas Cole, who had arrived in the U.S. in 1818, maintained his residence in a garret on Greenwich Street, exhibiting his paintings in local shops. Poet and writer Edgar Allan Poe lived in a boardinghouse on the street briefly between 1844 and 1845, but did not like the neighborhood, complaining of dirty streets and the noise made by clam-and-catfish vendors.
Also located on Greenwich Street in the mid-1800s was one of the many outlets of "Madame Restell", actually Ann Lohman, who sold pills for aborting unwanted pregnancies. The Greenwich Street location doubled as a lying-in facility for women who wanted to bear their child. In 1846 an angry mob, riled up by Restell's competitors and false claims of murder, descended on her Greenwich Street headquarters and attempted to evict her from the city; 40 policemen restored order. Restell, who got rich running her enterprises, was arrested a number of times, but was able to buy her way out of trouble, and eventually built a mansion at Fifth Avenue and 52nd Street.
In 1867, engineer Charles T. Harvey managed to get permission from the New York State Legislature to build a short stretch of elevated track as an experiment. Located on Greenwich Street north of Battery Place, the half-mile single-track set-up, which had two stationary engines at each end, attached by cables to a car which the motors shuttled back and forth, was ready for testing by June 1868. Harvey himself went bankrupt in the Black Friday of 1869 caused by the speculations of Jay Gould and James Fisk, but the company he set up went through a number of reorganizations and emerged in 1872 as the New York Elevated Railway Company, which utilized steam locomotives to pull cars on a single elevated track that ran up Greenwich and Ninth Avenue to 30th Street, where a connection could be made at the terminal of the Hudson River Railroad. Eventually, this would become the Ninth Avenue El, which was demolished in 1940.
Both Greenwich Street – originally called Greenwich Road – and Greenwich Avenue, with which it is sometimes confused, derive their names from the formerly independent country village of Greenwich, which was subsumed by New York City as the city grew northward. "Greenwich" means "Green village", with the "wich" derived from Latin vicus through Saxon wick. Of the two roads, Greenwich Street was the shorter, more scenic and popular route to the village, but often flooded until the 19th century, when landfill moved the river's edge farther away.
The IRT Broadway – Seventh Avenue Line runs under Greenwich Street from Vesey Street south to its end. The Cortlandt Street and Rector Street stations (1 train) serve it directly. Due to the September 11 attacks, and the resulting destruction of the World Trade Center, the Cortlandt Street station has been closed until 2015 at the earliest, pending the redevelopment of the World Trade Center site. Other subway stations serve Greenwich Street from nearby. These include (from north to south) the 14th Street – Eighth Avenue station (A C E L trains); the Christopher Street – Sheridan Square (local), Houston Street (local), Canal Street (local), Franklin Street (local) and Chambers Street (express) stations on the IRT Broadway – Seventh Avenue Line (1 2 3 trains); and the Chambers Street – World Trade Center station (A C E trains).
The Christopher Street PATH train station (HOB–33, JSQ–33, JSQ–33 (via HOB) trains) is located on Christopher Street just east of Greenwich Street. The World Trade Center PATH station (NWK–WTC, HOB–WTC trains) is located at Vesey and Greenwich Streets.
The World Trade Center Transportation Hub is being built between Greenwich and Church Streets, to connect the five stations at the World Trade Center site (2 3 A C E trains, N R trains, and PATH trains). The combined station will connect via the Dey Street Passageway with the Fulton Center (2 3 4 5 A C J Z trains).
The uptown M11 bus travels on Greenwich Street from Bethune Street to Gansevoort Street.
Two buses intersect with, but do not stop on, the street:
- The crosstown M8 bus crosses Greenwich Street in both directions, westbound on Christopher Street and eastbound on West 10th Street.
- The crosstown M21 bus crosses Greenwich Street in both directions, westbound on Houston Street and eastbound on Spring Street.
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- Moscow, Henry. The Street Book: An Encyclopedia of Manhattan's Street Names and Their Origins. New York: Hagstrom, 1978. ISBN 0823212750, p.55
- Burrows, Edwin G. & Wallace, Mike (1999). Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195116348.
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