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Washington Mews

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Washington Mews is a private gated street in New York City between Fifth Avenue and University Place just north of Washington Square Park. Along with MacDougal Alley and Stuyvesant Street, it was originally part of a Lenape trail which connected the Hudson and East Rivers,[1] and was first developed as a mews (row of stables) that serviced horses from homes in the area. Since the 1950s the former stables have served as housing, offices and other facilities for New York University.

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[music] The southwest corner of Washington Square Park is famous for its street chess scene. That got popular in the 1960s and is largely credited to a chap Since then, these tables here have seen a lot of famous called Bobby Haywood, who was the first person to put a chessboard on top of a trashcan in the street. Well, since then these tables here have seen a lot of famous faces like the world champion Bobby Fisher and also, film director Stanley Kubrick, who was a frequent player in the 1960s. [music] Here on the chess tables today, we can find a variety of chess hustlers. Some charge per game, some charge based on the result, which is technically illegal, but nobody seems to mind. And some charge for a lesson. Or if you're in a bit of a hurry, you can try a five-minute game - speed chess. [music] Done. Just from memory, though. [music] This lovely, large elm tree behind me here is the oldest tree in all Manhattan. It's thought to be over 300 years old. Back in the 19th century, people used to call it The Hanging Tree, although there are no surviving records to prove for certain if there were ever bodies hanging from the branches, here. What we do know for sure, that at least one hanging took place in Washington Square Park. That was at the Gallows near the center of the park. [music] We also know that this area of Washington Square Park used to be a potters field, which was a burial place for the poor or homeless. And is thought that still today, there are some 20,000 bodies buried right here beneath our feet. [music]


Washington Mews is on land that in the 18th century was part of a large farm owned by Capt. Robert Richard Randall; upon Randall's death, he bequeathed the land to what became known as Sailors' Snug Harbor.[2] The institution leased the land, using the resulting income to establish its Staten Island complex; the homes built on the land along the north side of Washington Square and the south side of Eighth Street came with two-story stables built along what became known as Washington Mews.[2] The private stables were used by the families of men such as Richard Morris Hunt, John Taylor Johnston, and Pierre Lorillard.[2]

In 1881, New York City's Department of Public Works ordered the construction of Washington Mews first gates at each end, in an apparent attempt to distinguish the Mews from public streets. In 1916, Sailors' Snug Harbor had a dozen of the stables remodeled into artist studios, designed by Maynicke & Franke; during the 20th century, artists living there included Paul Manship, Gaston Lachaise, and later Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney.[2][3]

Around 1950, New York University leased most of the entire property and gradually converted the buildings along the Mews into offices and faculty housing. In 1988, NYU hired architect Abraham Bloch to design a new six-foot-high Fifth Avenue gate, replacing the simple posts-and-chain used since the studios were built.[2][3]



  1. ^ Nevius, Michelle & Nevius, James (2009), Inside the Apple: A Streetwise History of New York City, New York: Free Press, ISBN 141658997X , pp. 5 & 67
  2. ^ a b c d e Gray, Christopher (November 20, 1988). "Washington Mews – Gates for Protection Against The Threatening City Beyond". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-04. 
  3. ^ a b Budny, Virginia (2006). New York's Left Bank: Art and Artists off Washington Square North 1900–1950. New York. ISBN 0979050707. 

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This page was last edited on 12 August 2017, at 16:46.
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