“Manhattan” and “quiet” are two words that many people do not associate with each other and put together in the same sentence. Yet many pockets of Manhattan offer quiet, especially when we calm the mind enough to find the inner peace that allows it.
As one of those Manhattan walkers whose mind often can be preoccupied with swirling thoughts, concerns, the next destination or deadline, and to-do reminders, I’ve found architectural and building details are one of the easiest and surest ways to clear the mind and invite the quiet. It doesn’t take hours or miles of meditative walking either. It can be as simple as looking at the details of a single block.
Greenwich Street, between West 10th and Charles streets, is one such pocket of quiet with rewarding details, which I discovered after first stopping to look closely at a single, quirky, and utterly inspiring tree that is smack in the middle of a chain-link fence (see Mindfulwalker.com’s “A Tree Grows in Chain Link”). I was taken in by the quiet of this Far West Village block as I listened to birds chirping away on an early-spring afternoon. (Don’t they sound happy?)
The tree’s uniqueness caused me to focus on what was around me. Suddenly I started spotting eye-catching and intriguing details and features on this block made up primarily of four- and five-story 19th century buildings. What a mix of colors, textures, signs, and nifty adornments here, and such strong hints of the history. Soon I was walking the block more slowly, breathing more deeply, and seeing the details of Greenwich Street unfold.
Here’s a look:
This patterned brick arch is over the windows of the Village Landmark, a residential building at 259 West 10th St., at the corner with Greenwich Street.
A remaining sign on the surface of this residential building, at 704-706 Greenwich St., tells of its former life.
The sign shows the year of construction of the former livery stable at 704-706 Greenwich St. At one time in the 1970s it was converted into a disco, and later it was combined with the northern lot into a multiple dwelling, according to the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.
The bright Garber Hardware sign, at 710 Greenwich St., says “we’re your friendly neighborhood hardware” in a way that no Home Depot can. A family-owned business that has been in the West Village for several generations, Garber’s retains the sign from its old location at 49 Eighth Ave.
This brickwork looks like a braid at the southeast corner of Greenwich and Charles streets.
A reflection in the building at 711 Greenwich St. almost has the look of a Hopper painting. The building is the home of the Stephan Weiss Studio, once the workplace of artist and entrepreneur Stephan Weiss, the late husband of fashion designer Donna Karan and co-founder of Donna Karan International. Now, it’s the site of Karan’s Urban Zen Foundation activities, international exhibits, and private fund-raising events.
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