Over the fall semester and multiple visits to Carmine Street, I have been able to explore the history as well as today’s reality of a unique part of Manhattan. A few business owners on Carmine Street were generous enough to give me some of their time to discuss their experiences on the street. There was an evidently strong sense of community on Carmine Street, located in Greenwich Village, which began as an “affluent residential neighbourhood in the early 19th century to a vibrant community of working-class immigrants and artists in the 20th century.” Of the multiple identities that make up Carmine Street, the most visible is the Italian influence. An outlier from Little Italy in Soho, the Italian heritage of the street was encouraged with the Italian church, Our Lady of Pompeii, standing prominently on the corner of Bleecker and Carmine Street. The Italian heritage today is expressed in most media representations of Carmine Street through Joe’s Pizza, one of the most famous pizza places in the city. The Italian cafes of Carmine Street and Greenwich Village provided a space for the counter-culture to exist. Thus, Greenwich Village was considered the East Coast birthplace of the Beatnik movement in the 1950’s. The traditions from the area’s Italian immigrants were the physical host of the social movement, where new forms of art, music, poetry, and literature flourished and characterized the spirit of the street. The Italian heritage mixed with the Bohemian culture of Greenwich Village provides a unique aesthetic to Carmine Street, where both narratives can be seen on the street today.
The document for the “Greenwich Village Historical District Extension II” provided an incredible source of knowledge on the history of the Village. The origin of Carmine Street began as farmland under British rule, owned by the Trinity Church. Apparently the name “Carmine” came from an official of the Trinity Church, Nicolas Carman. The land on Carmine Street was later developed and importantly, Greenwich Village did not change the colonial street pattern even after Manhattan‘s grid plan was officially adopted in 1811. During the Civil War, Carmine Street saw great demographic change, as the African American inhabitants of the area were drafted to war. European Immigrants took their place in the Village and in the 1890’s there was an overwhelming flux of Italian Immigrantion. Approximately two million Italian immigrants came to New York City in the first decade of the 20th century. Many Italians settled on and around Carmine Street, where they established a a community around their own religious and social institutions.
The most prominent Italian institution located on Carmine Street was Our Lady of Pompeii church, built in 1926 to replace a smaller church founded in 1892. The purpose was to serve the local population of recent immigrants and provide a network of support. Our Lady of Pompeii was the second Italian-speaking Church in the area that helped with the assimilation of Italian immigrants in America and today, perpetuates as a symbol of the Italian-American culture in the neighbourhood. Carmine Street became a little pocket of Italian culture where the church remained at the center of the movement. Italian businesses and restaurants flourished in the area and still do today. Aesthetically, the intersection at Carmine Street, Bleecker Street and Sixth Avenue looks like New York’s take on Italy- the fountain at Father Demo Square embodies a distinctly European vibe. The outdoor cafes, gelato shop, and benches surrounding the fountain cultivate a charming atmosphere for people to spend their leisure time. Each hour, the ringing church bells add a peaceful aura to Carmine Street. Out of all of the unique elements on Carmine Street, the most notable recognition that the street has received from the media is through an Italian institution, Joe’s Pizza. Over the years, Joe’s has been featured on Conan O’Brien’s TV show, it was the background for Peter Parker’s job in Spiderman 2, it was seen in “The Night We Never Met” starring Matthew Broderick, and was published as Adrien Brody’s favourite pizza place in “MY NY”. The wall of Joe’s Pizza displays photos of the many celebrities who have visited and upholds the exciting and glamorous notions of celebrity in New York City. Joe’s pizza has come to represent New York Pizza, an important culinary tradition in New York and remnant of the street’s Italian heritage.
The immigrants that settled on Carmine Street lived in tenement buildings that are still on the street today. Although the neighbourhood was primarily Italian, there were also immigrants from a range of different European countries as well. Around the First World War, “the allure of bohemian Greenwich Village attracted middle-class professionals, which catalyzed the neighborhood‘s transformation from a working-class, ethnic community into a sought-after neighborhood of rehabilitated row houses and tenements,” much like how they appear on the street today. Although the majority of recent changes on the street have been commercial, there are some families that have lived on Carmine Street for a very long time. Above Carmine Street Guitars there is a single-family residence that has been in the family for five generations. The guitar shop owner “Carmine Kelly,” told me about an old electric box in the basement from “New York Electric” instead of Con-Ed, to put a rough date on it. Other business owners have added to the sentiment that Carmine Street is a more family-oriented street. The facilities in the realm of Carmine Street, such as the elementary school at the church, the Downing Street playground and the Carmine Street pool across Seventh Avenue, all provide a unique haven for children Manhattan.
The population break-down that once lived in this building: a wide range of immigrants with many different jobs.
Today, most of the tenement buildings that were once home to immigrants are home to an eclectic group of people, families, and the commercial levels hosts a diverse array of local businesses. Every business owner that I spoke with on Carmine Street told me the same thing; that everyone knows each other on Carmine Street. The business owners keep keys for each other, they have local customers that are very loyal, and they do favours for one another…. Not one’s typical assumption from the image New York City is often associated with. In this community, there are different groups of older people from generation’s past that spend time on Carmine Street and chat together. Dowling describes, “The nexus between Carmine and Bedford Streets, like a few other areas in the West Village, is a place where families have lived for generations and you can find shopkeepers milling on benches outside their stores chatting with the locals, discussing everything from politics and 9/11 to the neighborhood gossip, of which there is plenty.”
I found an older Italian man named Tony, who was born on Carmine Street and is the superintendent of one of the buildings on the street. I stood with Tony outside of Cho’s Grocery (on the corner of Bedford and Carmine) in the rain and asked him a few questions about Carmine Street. Tony is part of the Italian legacy on Carmine Street and had been on the street all of his life. Our conversation was fixated on all of the businesses that had changed over the years. Tony also described the Italian block party that used to occur every July, of which is unique to time and space on Carmine Street. The continuous commercial changes on Carmine Street have also been seen by Carmine Street Guitars, a business that has been there for 21 years. There used to be 10 other guitar shops on the block, as music was a massive part of the Village culture from the 60’s and onward. Kelly says that the music scene is still fairly vibrant although there are fewer places to play than there used to be.
Carmine St at 6th Avenue NYPL Digital Gallery. New York Public Library
Carmine st at Bedford. NYPL Digital Gallery. New York Public Library
It is important to note the role of certain businesses in a place, that impact the community in ways that cannot be measured in monetary ways. In Jane Jacobs’ book The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jacobs discusses the elements of a safe street. Carmine Street has both “eyes upon the street, eyes… [of] the natural proprietors of the street” and the sidewalk, which has “users on it fairly continuously, both to add to the number of effective eyes on the street and to induce the people in buildings along the street to watch the sidewalks in sufficient numbers.” Carmine Street has recently lost a local establishment, The Grey Dog coffee shop, which undoubtedly increased the number of people spending time on the street. The Grey Dog had to leave because of financial complications with their lease after 15 years on Carmine Street. One new business owner on Carmine Street, who is friends with the people who ran the Grey Dog told me about the transition on the street from when the coffee shop first opened. Apparently, the street was slightly more dangerous 15 years ago then it is today. It presents an interesting connection, if the business that fostered community on the street helped make Carmine Street safer over time. The culture of the coffee shop is a place where people can feel comfortable spending time and it became a draw for locals and outsiders alike. Carmine Kelly says that the street has noticeably quieted down since they left and most business owners lost their local coffee shop, a vital community institution. Jane Jacobs explains how the city culture forces people outside of their home and into public space for certain rituals that people in the suburbs would normally do in private, such as doing laundry or having coffee. To put it in perspective, Dowling said, “ To the local residents losing The Grey Dog on Carmine Street [it] would be like losing their living room.”
The (old) Carmine Street location of Grey Dog Coffee , which has now moved to Soho.
Ultimately, the Carmine Street we experience today is characterized by a historically rich street that maintains a strong community amongst business owners and its residents. The identity of Greenwich Village is synonymous with a unique culture, yet Carmine Street seems to have it’s own unique identity within the Village. Carmine Street is charming, quaint, laid-back, and friendly. The community seen on the street today shows it’s older generation observing the busy, new generation in the public spaces that foster social interaction, such as Father Demo Square and the Downing Street playground. The Grey Dog coffee shop will surely be missed as a business that provided a space for such social interaction amongst locals. The presence of some businesses adds quirkiness to a neighbourhood historically known for it’s nonconformity and association to the Beat generation. Even in 1811 Greenwich Village decided against joining Manhattan’s grid plan. The Bohemia of the street today is translated through vinyl shops, bookstores, and cafes. According to Zukin, “Each area of the city gets a different form of visual consumption catering to a different constituency: culture functions as a mechanism of stratification.” The vision of public space is derived from commercial culture. On Carmine Street, the historical background of the neighbourhood fosters an eclectic and diverse marketplace today. The aesthetic of the buildings on Carmine Street and the heritage of Greenwich Village led to it’s historic preservation. Carmine Street was a part of the Greenwich Village Historical District Extension II that was designated in 2010. Carmine Street has been greatly influenced by the Italian heritage on the street and the eccentric Village atmosphere, which can be felt through it’s strong sense of community today.
Thank you to everyone on Carmine Street for your help with the interviews:
– Unoppressive Non-Imperialist Bargain Books
– Carmine Street Guitars
– Victory Garden
– Trattoria Spaghetto
NYPL Digital Gallery. New York Public Library : http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/dgkeysearchresult.cfm?keyword=Carmine+Street
Dowling, Dar. “Looking for a Miracle on Carmine.” Westview News 20 Sept. 2011. Web.
Klose, Olivia, Marianne Percival, and Virgina Kurshan. “Greenwich Village Historic District Extension II Deisgnation Report.” Director of Research. Ed. Mary Beth Betts. New York: 2010.
Lourie, Richard. “Like Italy, Only Not Far Away.” New York Times: E.2:35. ABI/INFORM Complete; Arts & Humanities Full Text; National Newspapers Premier; New York Times; ProQuest Central; ProQuest Education Journals; ProQuest Research Library; ProQuest Social Science Journals. Mar 08 2002. Web. 12 Dec. 2011 .
Jacobs, Jane. The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Westminster, MD: Vintage, 1992.
Historic District Council. Path: http://www.hdc.org/neighborhoodatrisksouthvillage.htm.
Zukin, Sharon. The Culture of Cities. Cambridge: Blackwell, 1995. Print.
Carmine Street Introduction
Carmine Street is located in Greenwich Village in Manhattan, between 6th and 7th Avenue. Bedford and Bleecker streets run perpendicular through Carmine Street, making the street is about 2.5 blocks long. It is wider than most streets in the area because there are lanes for two-way traffic, compared to many one-way streets in the area. The closest Subway station is West 4th Street-Washington Square, which is served by the A, B, C, D, E, F, and M trains.
Above: Carmine Street (local map)
Carmine was originally called Carman Street, named for Nicholas Carman. Nicholas was an official of Trinity Church, which owned land in the Village (nysonglines.com)
There was once a small cinema called “Carmine Street Theater” that showed films from 1914-1926. The theater appears to have closed in 1926 for “Our Lady of Pompeii Church” (cimematreasures.org). This is a Catholic church, which holds mass in many different languages, such as Italian, Brazilian or Filipino. The church also has a small elementary school, for children in pre kindergarten to grade 8.
Above: A view of Carmine Street in 1934; store fronts with Residential Apartments above, similar to it’s appearance today.
It is rumored that Edgar Allen Poe moved to Carmine Street in 1837. It was said that he lived at 113 ½ Carmine St although that address no longer exists today (A Centenary Tribute).
Today, on Carmine there are many local businesses such as retail stores, restaurants and cafes along the tree-lined street. On the upper levels of the buildings it is primary residential. A landmark on Carmine Street includes a church called Our Lady of Pompeii, which looks beautiful situated behind Father Demo Square. Where Carmine St, Bleecker St and 6th Avenue intersect there is “Father Demo Square” consisting of benches, trees and a fountain. It is a very pleasant square and adds to the character of the neighbourhood.
Above: Father Demo Square and Our Lady of Pompeii church on Carmine Street.
On the other side of 7th Avenue, where Carmine ends there is “Tony Dapolito Recreation Center” formerly called “Carmine Street Recreation Center.” Although this is reacreation center is technically located on Calrkson St, across from Carmine Street, there is an outdoor pool and a painted wall called the “Carmine Street Mural” which was painted in 1987(Carmine Street Mural).
Above: A photo of Carmine Street Pool and Mural from 1987- From Haringkids.com
A local business was featured in the movie Spiderman 2. Joes Pizza located on the corner of Carmine Street and Bleecker was the set for Peter Parker’s “job” in the film. He is fired as a pizza delivery boy from Joe’s Pizza early in the film.
Above: A still from the Movie “Spiderman 2” starring Tobey Maguire on the corner of Bleecker and Carmine St.
By Ryann Fraser
“Carmine Street Mural.” NYC Department of Parks & Recreation. N.p., 17 Dec. 2001. Web. 14 Sept. 2011. <http://www.nycgovparks.org/sub_your_park/historical_signs/hs_historical_sign.php?id=11966>.
Farley, Damien. Cinema Treasures. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Sept. 2011. <http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/13592>.
“A Centenary Tribute.” Wikisource. N.p., 22 Apr. 2011. Web. 14 Sept. 2011. <http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Page:Edgar_Allan_Poe_-_a_centenary_tribute.djvu/89>.
Naureckas, Jim. “Carmine Street .” New York Songlines. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Sept. 2011. <http://www.nysonglines.com/carmine.htm>.
Carmine Street: Text From Street
Carmine Street mainly consists of restaurants, shops, cafes and residences, as well as a picturesque church and square. As I was walking southwest on Carmine Street, I found an old, hidden banner placed on the side of a building. It was an interesting sign for a bookstore in the area, “Unoppressive Non-Imperialist Bargain Books.” The presence of this bookstore on Carmine street speaks to the notion of the alternative culture that exists in Greenwich Village to this day. This non-traditional bookstore with a name that promotes liberal thinking and free speech, is unique to the Eastcoast birthplace of the Beatnik culture. It is unlikely that a bookstore like this would exist in many places in the United States because of the massive bookstore chains that dominate, as well as the introduction of new book technologies such as the Kindle. It is considered a city gem in this part of lower Manhattan. From what I could tell, they have loyal customers, low prices and wide selection of uncommon books that uphold the ideals of the counter-culture from the 50’s and on. Their customer list includes Patti Smith, Yoko Ono, Susan Sarandon, Richard Gere, and Sean Lennon.
This bookstore is important to the environment of Carmine Street and the Village. Greenwich Village was the center of the “Beat Movement” (The Greenwich Village Society for Historical Preservation). “Unoppressive Non-Imperialist Bargain Books” features cutout of the musician Bob Dylan in the front window and many books on Dylan, a highly influential icon of the Beat generation. Bob Dylan started by playing at cafes in Greenwich Village in the 1960’s and he is a key figure in the history in the neighbourhood. Today, the area remains quirky, artistic, and alternative because of the history which has been maintained through stores like ” Unoppressive Non-Imperialist Bargain Books” on Carmine Street.
Above: Storefront, complete with Bob Dylan Cutout
The Greenwich Village Society For Historic Preservation. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Sept. 2011. <http://www.gvshp.org/_gvshp/resources/history.htm>.
The Experience of Carmine Street
The experience of walking on Carmine Street is one that is varied. The street is not a uniform street with a certain theme; therefore I noticed it conveys different experiences in the 2.5 block span that it occupies. Some streets in Greenwich Village and the West Village are very homogenous and have an evident pattern. I would consider Carmine Street to be a rebellious neighbour, that which doesn’t fit a particular mold.
Above: View from the same point on Carmine Street, Left side & Right side. Display of the variations one can find.
Since Carmine Street is essentially located between two major avenues, both ends appear to be busy. Beginning at 7th avenue and walking Northeast, the street settles down to just a few pedestrians, rather than swarms like some places in New York. It is quite pleasant to stroll down Carmine and there are many local businesses that call for a passer-by’s attention. There is a co-mingling of upper class businesses to lesser class, such as laundry mats or locksmiths. The mix on Carmine creates a distinctive vibe that does not discriminate or showoff- a walker can feel comfortable being there. De Certeau states that, “Walking affirms, suspects, tries out, transgresses, respects, etc, the trajectories it “speaks. (Walking in the City, pg 98).” This statement holds true for one’s experience on Carmine Street, because most don’t take the time to recognize how they feel on a street, but they interact with it regardless. If a pedestrian were to stop and look at the architecture of the apartment buildings above, they might notice a classic New York setting, one that could bring about nostalgia from typical depictions in media texts.
Above: Different architectural style where Carmine Street meets 7th Avenue.
Above: Intersection at Carmine and Bedford, one of the upper class restaurants “Market Table” in the background.
Above: Street-view of Carmine towards 6th Avenue.
The character of Carmine Street is highlighted by Father Demo Square at the 6th Avenue end. It is a meeting point where many different people congregate and spend time interacting with the city and each other. The sound of chatter, the water fountain and cars on bustling 6th avenue all combined, add to the experience of Carmine Street’s hub. The square is a pleasant place to sit back and observe the city in action from the ground-level. I like to relate the square to De Certeau’s reference of the Place de Concorde in Paris, in accordance with Malaparte. “The Place de Concorde does not exist, it is an idea (Walking in the City, pg 104).” The Concorde represents something more than just a space for people to occupy; it is a vital part of the experience in Paris. For downtown New York City, Father Demo Square on Carmine provides a rare experience that has meaning due to the fact that everyday life occurs there.
Above: Father Demo Square, 6th Avenue in the background.
Above: The fountain in the square, Carmine and Bleecker St in the background
De Certeau, Michel. The Practices of Everyday Life. N.p.: University of California Press, 1984. Print.
History on Carmine
In late August of 1873 there was a tragic murder that took place within a family that lived at No.81 Carmine Street. An eighteen year old, James Broderick had been stabbed and killed by his father, Michael Broderick. The father had also stabbed their other son, John yet he was only wounded by the incident. Local residents seemed to be concerned over this event because there were a couple articles following up on the tragedy. The newspapers were able to sensationalize because it was an “in-family” killing, rather than a run-in with a stranger like most of the other murders on Carmine. The first articles only provided speculations for what could have been the cause behind the killing and include interviews with their neighbours. Some defend the father and other’s claim “he had to be crazy to do it.” John, the brother who had been stabbed as well, testified in court. His story relayed that the brothers had attacked the father together. Ultimately, the Jury concluded that the father, Michael Broderick had acted in self-defense. This article also included details of the family and their jobs- allowing insight into the neighbourhood’s compostion. They were an Irish family of 7 altogether and the father was a truckman on Great Jones Street. John mentioned in his testimony that he was a cartman at No.89 Vesey Street. He also said he sometimes he lived on West 10th Street, and the newspaper added, “John was a bad boy, living with an disreputable woman in the tenth street.” From what I could gather, they were not a well-off family and maybe that speaks for the general population living on the street.
In February of 1894, there was a story of a missing child “Alma Potter.” I was interesting in the article for a few reasons. The newspaper seemed to lack a “filter” and would print brutally honest, personal details. This also helps to understand what kind of people lived on Carmine Street at the time. The article read:” they (the Potter family) are very poor” and that her mother was “a habitual drunkard.” From these details and the case of the Broderick murder, it was likely that it was not an elite area back in the 1800’s, although these families could have been exceptions.
In relation to the current situation at Carmine Street, there is an article dating back to October of 1931, where a city pool opened on Carmine Street. Because of the location, it is likely where the Tony Dapolito Recreation Center stands today.
The area’s considerable Italian population correlates with the Church that has been standing at the corner of Carmine and Bleecker since 1926. An article in the New York Times on July 17th 1981 documented the eighth “Festa Italiana” of Our Lady of Pompeii Church. An article in 1988 also mentions the Pompeii day, so it must have been a popular celebration over the years. This celebrated the Italian presence in the area and is important in showing the multicultural aspects of more recent Carmine Street inhabitants. The Italian presence has had an influence on Carmine Street that is still seen today, such as casual outdoor cafes, pizza shops and gelato all gathered around Father Demo Square.
The articles that I found on the database were so interesting to go through! I was a little shocked at the amount which Carmine Street; a seemingly peaceful Greenwich Village street has been documented for violence! The historical newspaper database shows a few notable fires, deaths and murders. There was also the occasion cultural event or marriage, yet many of the articles were usually about something bad that had happened. I really enjoyed reading the articles on Carmine Street because of the old-time language used. The newspaper articles also give details of the street, like the types of businesses that existed there. It is a great way to obtain perspective on the types of people who lived there, although it is important to remember that there was a reason it had been documented and usually it was due to an unfortunate occurrence.
THE BRODERICK TRAGEDY.: FURTHER DETAILS OF THE CARMINE STREET MURDER THE POST-MORTEM EXAMINATION CONDITION OF THE WOUNDED BOY.
New York Times (1857-1922) [New York, N.Y] 24 Aug 1873: 8.
THE CARMINE STREET TRAGEDY.: THE CORONER’S INQUEST THE PRISONER’S STATEMENT A VERDICT OF JUSTIFIABLE HOMICIDE.
New York Times (1857-1922) [New York, N.Y] 26 Aug 1873: 8.
LITTLE ALMA POTTER FOUND.: LOST BY HER MOTHER NEAR HER HOME — MISSING FOR NEARLY TWO DAYS.
New York Times (1857-1922) [New York, N.Y] 05 Feb 1894: 3.
CITY POOL IS OPENED.: LEVY DEDICATES PLAY BUILDING FOR CARMINE STREET AREA.
New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 30 Oct 1931: 25.
Festa on Carmine St.
New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 17 July 1981: C19.
Carmine Street: The 2000 Census
In the 2000 United States census, Carmine street was located in tract# 67, which spanned an approximate 0.25 mile radius in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, from Hudson Street to 6th Avenue. The government uses the census to obtain statistics on an area’s population in order to make informed decisions in regards to public matters such as transportation, housing, food, and economic structure. A census is done every decade and places focus on a population in time, within a certain place. The census is an interesting observation tool from an urban anthropological viewpoint because it gives the exact statistics on the individual citizens that occupy a certain space in the city.
In the year 2000, tract 67 contained 5,645 people amidst the 1,537,195 occupants in Manhattan. The statistics show that the dominating race in the area is white, represented by 83.3% of the population. The following race was Asian, making up 5.7 % of the area’s population. Since the 1960 census, there have been considerable changes in diversity, as the area was determined 97.7% white at the time. This area contains diversity, but within the landscape of Manhattan, it would be considered less diverse then some areas yet also less homogenous than others as well. The census data does not provide the sense from walking on the street, where I think there is a sense of the diversity present. The 83% white population is made up of many Europeans, which makes it appear more culturally diverse even though it is statistically not as ethnically diverse. In the 1940 census, there was a category for “foreign-born” individuals which would provide detailed knowledge of the area’s ethnic range.
The “households” were most interesting to examine because there were 5,631 people in households. There were 1,781 in family households- a 33% family area is what I would imagine to be considered low on the spectrum. From my knowledge of the area, I have taken into account its proximity to NYU as well as the “single” life that New Yorkers tend to live over suburban dwellers. The majority of households are made up of non-family households. Importantly, there were more than double the amount of single female householders than single male householders. There is also a surprising number of elderly citizens, making up 14% of households. There is a playground and community center on Carmine, therefore I was surprised to see that there are not many children under 18 in the tract, there were approximately 164 in 2000. After having spent a good amount of time on Carmine Street, it is interesting to observe concrete statistics on the residents provided through the census, in comparison to the perception one can get from being physically present.
2000 Census Summary File 1 Population Division – New York City Department of City Planning
1960 Census Summary, Tract 67 New York City. Social Explorer Reports: http://ezproxy.library.nyu.edu:26953/pub/reportdata/htmlresults.aspx?ReportId=R10118598
Carmine Street represented in Fiction: Maskarna på Carmine Street
I discovered a Swedish fiction novel written by Håkan Nesser that was based on Carmine Street in Manhattan. Nesser’s book is called The Worms on Carmine Street, which was published in 2009 in Swedish. The English version is set to release in 2013, yet I was able to use a translated excerpt from the beginning of the novel. Nesser is well known in Sweden for his crime novels. Ironically enough, I found myself sitting next to two Norwegian writers in a café on Monday who were very well acquainted with his work and immediately noted that Nesser writes crime novels and mysteries. Nesser lived in Greenwich Village and incorporated many local details in this novel, giving a distinctive, believable reality to this work of fiction.
The main character in this novel is Erik Steinbeck, a successful author, who lives on Carmine Street in New York with his artist wife Winnie. They moved to New York after the tragic disappearance of their young daughter, who was stolen in the couple’s prior home in the fictitious European city of Aarlach. It is interesting that their home in Europe was fictitious and then instead of remaining in an abstract urban representation, they relocate to a very real New York City instead. This notion plays on New York as an iconic city to experience the most extreme of urban environments. Yet the more focused setting of the novel, in Greenwich Village is an important element to the book, essentially seen by the use of Carmine Street in the very title. Erik expresses that his general sentiment and feelings correlate with that of his environment. Specifically at the “Hudson Park Branch” library, near Carmine Street, where he spends his time writing and describes, “sitting in this dirt-coloured shabby place” yet for Erik, “it is the right place anyway; I feel it clearly. The writing setting per se has always been important to me and in this case it has been even more significant than ever.”
There is a sad, despairing tone in the beginning of the novel because of the tragedy the characters faced with the loss of their daughter. The first sentence of the novel is: “We came to New York with four full suitcases and two empty hearts”. It is important to keep in mind the effect of the character’s emotional state and how it is conveyed in their environment. Both characters are emotionally vacant which is relayed through the descriptions of their environment. There is often a slight negativity, exemplified in their apartment shopping experience, “rejecting one exorbitant and impossible mouse-hole after another.”
The New York City that represents an escape and great anonymity is shown through their move to Manhattan, in order to build a new life. “The novel follows their progress in their new neighbourhood as they, by now virtual strangers to each other, attempt to get on with their careers (James Walker).” Their cautious conversation and unfamiliarity leads to a scene out on the streets nearby their home that is filled with details of geography. Erik crosses Barrow Street and with a glance to the left, he sees Winnie who is also crossing Barrow Street, but in the opposite direction and on Bedford which runs parallel. Erik claims that she is “fifty meters away from me at most; no, probably no more than forty” yet he loses sight of her behind a van. He continues to Christopher Street but does not see her and goes back to the library on Leroy Street. When he arrives back at the apartment on Carmine Street, he mentions that he saw her on Bedford and she denies it. She says that she was at Union Square, in the opposite direction of Bedford and Barrow Street in relation to Carmine Street, and is clearly a lie to her husband. The distance in their relationship makes this depiction of the neighbourhood seen more impersonal than it truly is. As the characters move through space and time, I feel as though it connotes a deeper meaning into their character development. This is a local area, not a bustling New York street like Broadway where “strangers are always blurry” as mentioned in The Colossus of New York – a husband and wife should be able to recognize each others presence when walking in the given space.
The text presents Carmine Street as a somewhat grungy and desolate backdrop at the beginning of the story. The two different images on the separate novel covers present dreary images even though one is an abstract painting and the other is an actual photograph. The picture on the cover presents an austere and disorienting scene that visually sets the novel; the literal use of a window pane in the frame “suppress(es) the horizon line, giving the viewer no point of orientation in the sequence (After Images of the City).” The title, the “worms” of Carmine Street does not signify pleasant images either. In their apartment on Carmine, a description from Winnie’s point of view provides a necessary character insight; “the light coming in through the dirty windows is ideal, almost too good.” Their situation in this neighbourhood perpetuates their sadness and I am guessing that as the book continues, significant story changes could lead to an entirely different interpretation of the street. My hypothesis is that in overcoming obstacles, the area will be presented in a new light. I was surprised by the depressing description of the Carmine street area, but the characters outlook influences the context, and how the reader interprets a place. Fiction gives a wide range of sense data and it would be possible for a dramatic shift in their perception of the street. Fiction is very subjective, therefore the “dirty windows”narrative functions to focus our attention on negative aspects, in sync with the character’s attitude.
Walker, James. Swedish Book Review from The Worms on Carmine Street http://www.swedishbookreview.com/article-2010-2-nesser.php
Colson and Whitehead. The Colossus of New York. Doubleday, n.d. 74-85. NYU Blackboard. Web. 16 Oct. 2011
Resina and Ingenschay. The After-Images of the City. Ithaca: Cornell Univesity Press, Print.
Carmine Street in Film
Joe’s Pizza is a Greenwich Village establishment that has been captured twice in Hollywood films. Joe’s pizza has recently moved from the iconic corner on Carmine and Bleecker, to another location on Carmine Street. Joe’s Pizza symbolizes the quintessential New York pizza joint and brings it to life on the big screen. The “Night We Never Met” was made in 1993 and stars Matthew Broderick. This romantic comedy is an archetypal New York film, encompassing elements of fast paced city life offering everything except an affordable apartment. The movie exemplifies an aspirational way of being in the city and experiencing life in a passionate manner. The film follows three individuals and their various experiences in the city, which helps to illustrate the “too many experiences and too many moods [of the city] (Pile, pg 203).” The scene on Carmine Street takes place with Matthew Broderick and his friend walking along Carmine towards Bleecker Street. They are talking in front of Joe’s Pizza and Broderick declares, “I’d like to meet a girl from Norway” and in an instant a blonde girl with a map and Scandinavian accent appears, asking them “Pardon me, do you know if I am Greenwich Village?” The scene that occurs right in front of Joe’s Pizza is crucial in demonstrating an idea that New York City culturally represents- the possibility of that anything can happen at any given moment. This coincident, which appears as an everyday occurrence in New York shows the opportunities that are available in the city, in tune with a “the world is your oyster” narrative. The editing that makes everything fall perfectly into place in this scene is also an entity distinct to film: “Film appears to capture the ‘flow of life’ of the city, but it is in fact a patchwork of time-spaces, stitched together into a seemingly seamless sequence (Pile pg 204). “ The psychogeography of Carmine Street in “The Night We Never Met” was portrayed to show a positive mood of the city through the interaction in which Broderick’s whimsical desire to meet a Norwegian girl is met. The area is shown as a lively and unique place in time and space, as well as showing consistent themes involved with New York City in film.
Spiderman 2 was also filmed in 2004 at the same location, Joe’s Pizza on the corner of Carmine and Bleecker Street. The film portrays this area with a very different mood in compared to how it is seen in “The Night We Never Met.” Peter Parker is a pizza delivery boy, working at Joe’s Pizza on Carmine. Joe’s Pizza has a delivery guarantee of 29 minutes or less, so the theme revolves around the hustle and bustle of the city. The area appears to be very busy, filled with people moving quickly outside of the restaurant, giving an impersonal sense to the street. The boss also tells Peter in a rude, impersonal New York manner, that he will be fired if he doesn’t hurry up and get pizzas delivered, giving him a ridiculous task that is clearly not possible. The Carmine Street experience in Spiderman 2 shows negative aspects of the big city, it’s toughness and complete lack of outgoing qualities.
The juxtaposition of Carmine Street seen in the different films presents two distinct experiences that render Pile’s ideas of capturing a scene within a city, “journeys that are emblematic of city life in the way they mark particular trajectories in space and time.” One of the problems that Pile mentions of film in the city is: “how to explore the experiences of the city and how to evoke moods” due to the never-ending variability that can occur. The contrast of how Carmine Street is presented in both films is central to this idea because each film shows the street in a very different capacity- but also, a capacity that the street is flexible enough to adapt to. The atmosphere of the street can be manipulated to have different connotations, one presenting opportunity and possibility; where as the other is lacking. Joe’s Pizza, as seen in film is an important establishment on Carmine Street as it represents the quintessential New York pizza parlour, uniquely symbolizing a slice of New York culture. Joe’s Pizza on Carmine Street represents an experience of the city that was captured in films, exposed through two very different moods that the city encompasses. Joe’s pizza is no longer on the corner, although it is a few doors down on the same block. The old, iconic corner location only exists in film now and demonstrates the idea of the ever-changing city.
The Night We Never Met
Leach, Neil, ed. Pile, Steven.”The Problem of London, or, how to explore moods of the city.” The Hieroglyphics of Time and Space. Print.
Night on Carmine Street
“Sometime, the dreams have to become reality, and when they do it will be at night.” Joachim Schlör
Sea of people at the Halloween Parade on 6th Avenue (photo credit: http://photos.halloween-nyc.com/)
Monday night was the 39th Annual Village Halloween Parade, which took place on 6th Avenue, in Greenwich Village. The parade passed by Carmine Street on it’s way up 6th Avenue. Thousands of people were dressed in elaborate costumes and celebrating in the streets.
Carmine Street was partially shut down between Bedford and Bleecker in order to maintain control over the masses passing through. There were police on the street keeping watch over the crowds in celebration. Schlör discusses the need for police surveillance in cities at night, although Carmine usually does not have police stationed on the street. The street is well lit, uniquely wide and populated so that there is a safer atmosphere than some of the smaller and dark streets in the area.
The Village Halloween Parade is a very unique celebration and distinct to this area of New York. Thousands of people come just to observe the parade. There are dance sequences, live music, spectacular costumes and décor. Carmine Street during the night generally has a quiet atmosphere because it does not host many nightclubs or evening attractions. There are many restaurants and cafes on Carmine Street which are busy at night, but it seems to be separate from the 24/7 attitude of New York City. During the warmer months, people sit outside at the cafes and it has a peaceful, almost European vibe. Carmine street has a nice atmosphere at nighttime. Although the Halloween Parade does not direct onto Carmine Street, with its passing on 6th avenue it brings entertainment to Carmine Street, as well as a crowd that is not normally present. The parade and its circus-like environment is not typical of Carmine Street, but it is an annual occurrence that embodies such unique characteristics of Greenwich Village. Greenwich Village is an area of Manhattan that is known for its more eccentric qualities, which can definitely be observed in the Halloween Parade.
Video of 2011 Halloween Parade:
Schlör, Joachim. Nights in The Big City. Reaktion Books, Page 14. Print.
Carmine Street on Television
Everything seems to come back to Joe’s! Joe’s Pizza on Carmine Street has been featured in many various media representations since the 1980’s. While searching for television scenes that were shot on Carmine Street, I found very little that did not involve Joe’s. Therefore, I have come to embrace Joe’s Pizza as a draw on Carmine Street (which is not easy for a Celiac; completely gluten free) because it represents New York Pizza. There is a reason that so many different outlets have chosen to film at Joe’s and it has received much recognition over the years. According to Sadler and Haskins,” any one building in Manhattan can stand in for the whole big apple,” which is relevant as Joe’s Pizza has come to represent New York pizza.
On November 3rd 2011, the TBS talk show “Conan” starring comedian Conan O’Brien featured a segment filmed at Joe’s Pizza on Carmine Street. “Conan” is usually taped in a studio in Los Angeles, but he returned to the city and taped the show here for one week. Conan dedicated an entire segment to New York pizza, showing its priority as a New York commodity. Therefore, Joe’s stands to represent this celebrated culinary element of New York. In the show, Conan says that he wants to experience the greatest things in New York, emblematic of the tourist mentality. From Haskins and Sadler, “The advanced capitalist nature of the city acts as a driving force to attract attention to the image of the city and develop New York as a tourist destination for all to see.” Through the media, such as with this clip from Conan, practices of enjoying New York pizza have been reinforced as a New York experience. Conan is also critical of the pizza in Los Angeles, evoking a sense of New York City pride amongst a cheering audience.
The scene on Carmine Street begins with Conan introducing Joe’s Pizza on the street. It is also important that this is the current location of the shop, opposed to the previous location on the corner of Bleecker Street, where it was seen in “Spiderman 2” and “The Night We Never Met.” While Conan is outside of Joe’s pizza, he points out a bike frame, locked up and missing most of its parts. Unlike the clean image presented on the set of Seinfeld, Conan shows a real New York environment. “The first thing Seinfeld did in reinventing the image of the city was clean up the paths (pg 203).” Conan poking fun at the bike functions in the complete opposite way of the image presented in Seinfeld, where Haskins and Sadler claim, “These path images market New York City as an ideal place, where people can walk down the street and not worry about their personal safety.” What is shown on Conan captures a true part of New York and would not be considering dangerous, but it is clearly not a set!
Conan standing on Carmine Street, outside of Joe’s Pizza
“Conan’s Old Bike… Thank you New York”
The segment inside of Joe’s Pizza is quite funny as Conan dishes more criticism of Los Angeles and such contrasts present a superior image of New York. The Italian-American owner “Joe” helps Conan prepare a classic New York style pizza. There are shots of their pizza and the customers there. The scene within Joe’s Pizza demonstrates what Haskin and Sadler describe as nodes, which “constitute the public spaces of a city. Central Park, popular restaurants, shops, and apartment buildings are nodes, for these are the primary settings for television shows and also for social interaction in New York City.” Conan featured Joe’s Pizza shop because it fit the image of the setting he wanted to portray. There are many pizza shops all over New York and I have been quite shocked with the attention that Joe’s has received over the years.
Conan shows Joe a Los Angeles Pizza: “Squash Blossoms, Eggs, Hazelnuts and Crab”
Joe: “That’s disgusting”
A link to the video here:
Sadler, William J., and Ekaterina V. Haskins. Metonymy and the Metropolis: Television Show Settings and the Image of New York City. Print.
Audio Clip from Carmine Street
I arrived at Carmine Street on Tuesday evening at the perfect moment. The church bells from Our Lady of Pompeii church began ringing at 6:00 pm, right as I walked up to Carmine Street. I stood under the church and listened, while recording the environment sounds with my phone. The church bells were lovely! I think that this recording is a wonderful depiction of the peaceful moment that I experienced on Carmine Street. I was on the street observing as others were rushing by, en route elsewhere, talking on their phones, walking dogs, etc. I was just recording the sounds and watching.
The sound clip from Carmine Street includes church bells, the occasional voice of a person passing by, cars passing by and a bus stopping. It is so interesting to hear the sound clip after it happened. It sounds like a movie set… nearly perfect. I was surprised by the lack of visual content, and that ability to change our perception. Although I think it is important because it is such a distinct clip to Carmine Street. Corbould says that noise in Harlem “indicated a distinctive and valuable culture” and in certain ways, the church bells from this clip reflect the culture that is found on Carmine Street. Carmine is a rather quiet, leisurely and quaint street. There is a somewhat European vibe that this end of Carmine street exudes. It provides a setting where people can hang out, like at the Trattoria and Father Demo Square, such a place where the bells can be enjoyed. It is an unique part of the city and the central point of Carmine Street, where it’s charm can be seen and heard. It is hard to convey the feel of a street and it especially hard to write down how it sounds. I think this clip is an accurate representation of how Carmine Street sounds on a Tuesday night at 6:00 pm if one stops and takes the time to notice.
I wanted to add photos of my night on Carmine. It was beautiful!
Corbould, Clare “Streets Sounds and Identity in Interwar Harlem” University of Sydney 2006
Carmine Street: As seen in Digital Media
Although it is called the Downing Street playground, the entrance to this hidden playground is located at 29 Carmine Street. I have yet to go inside the playground, but I have noticed it from the outside. Carmine Street is a vibrant street that has many restaurants, so when you “google” it, lots of restaurant reviews appear from the usual suspects- yelp, nymag.com, menupages,etc. I wanted to find something not relating to food for this post- this street is seriously brimming with restaurants ! It has been very clear that the restaurant culture is a significant part of the street’s identity and it is how the street is often represented. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see that this playground on Carmine Street was featured in the NY times article, covering the top playgrounds in the city, according to author Helene Stapinski. Galloway states that “moving through the city, and through public spaces, has always been a performative practice where the citizen is relatively able to use the material world for her own purposes and enjoyment, and engage in critiques of everyday life.” In the NY times article, the author travels to many different playgrounds in the city with her children and creates a map, featuring the parks. There is also a comments section, where people can add their thoughts to her article, most comments were about why she should have included their own local parks in the article. Stapinski writes:
“Unless you know better, the Downing playground looks like a private courtyard. From the street you can glimpse monkey bars and swings through a series of octagonal windows. Because it’s usually empty, with tall London plane trees surrounding the perimeter, it’s one of the most tranquil public spots in the city. A tiny oasis in this crazy town. There’s a handball wall, decorated in chalked children’s graffiti, and a curving slide. And lots of peace and quiet. There’s also an old bathroom that’s not half bad.”
Helene Stapinski, NY Times
The rest of the article can be found :
This playground is interesting because it is hidden. One would have know about it or intentionally seek it out in order to find it. Even on the internet, seeing the playground from bird’s eye view à la Google Earth, is actually quite difficult. The playground is covered by trees, so you can’t actually tell that a playground is even there. The small, 0.22 acres of public space must be entered through a doorway of an old brick building, with an American Flag hanging above. There is a sign for the park, but it is easy to walk past. Stapinski describes the playground as a courtyard, which I find to be an excellent description. Unlike how the world has been turning virtual, this park is very much a physical place. In terms of it’s virtual representation, the playground cannot be seen from Google earth. Both views, from above and the street, do not show that there is a playground there. It is something that is not obvious on Carmine Street or it’s representations on the internet, but another layer of local knowledge that is needed. Everything that exists in the real world has some kind of representation online, but in this case I feel that the physical place has more of a presence than it’s virtual counterpart.
Bird’s Eye view:
The entrance to the play ground on Carmine Street:
Galloway, Anne. “Imitations of Everyday Life: Ubiquitous Computing and the City.” Cultural Studies, Vol. 18. 384-408.
Stapinski, Helene. “New York’s Big Backyard.” NY Times. Summer in the City, 6 June 2008. Web. 21 Nov. 2011.