Perfectly placed in West Village, Horatio Street is perhaps the heart of the village uniting the Meatpacking District and Chelsea. A rather glamorous address among the downtown scene, Horatio Street boasts historic addresses, fabulous shopping and beautiful scenery. What I’ve come to discover is that Horatio is one of those quintessential New York streets that is very well known, but rarely talked about.
It’s an address that assumes extreme privacy, but with total proximity to everything you could ever want living in the West Village. Through this assignment, I have learned what sets Horatio Street a part from its neighbors in the West Village is the community that it inhabits. The theme in the final post comes from a quote I found during the historical New York Times database assignment.
The article is titled Once-Gritty Neighborhood Comes Alive and truthfully, that is a spot on assessment. ”We’re a mixed bag — gay, straight, single, married, children, elderly,” said Carol Yankay, then president of the Horatio Street Association. ”You know everyone. Even if you’re not a friendly person, they’ll make it your businesses to know who you are. We consider that an asset.”
In Corbould’s Streets, Sounds and Identity, he describes the residents of Harlem and how with the encounter of a celebrity, they reacted with rousing ovation and with what might have been possible artificial enthusiasm stirred up by an actual committee. This could not be the further than the reaction notable residents such as Tom Colicchio and Euan Rellie receive when they step out of their buildings. This really speaks to what Yankay said in the Times article such that knowing everyone and relating with those in which you live near is totally a hallmark of this community.
The video below shows employees from NAUTICA and Oceana who joined forces to clean debris from the banks of the Hudson River at Horatio Street. Twenty six bags of trash and recyclables were collected during the three hour event. A number of environmentalists reside along Horatio, so this is just one of the groups that aim to make their environment cleaner and better, not only for them, but for the greater New York City community.
The beginning of Horatio, at Jackson Square Park, evidences this perfectly. Once in a declining state, members of the Jackson Square Alliance sought to transform the park and give it new life for the community with a larger objective than just being a park. Earlier in the fall, the New York City Gay Mens Chorus hosted “FIREWORK!” Flash-Mob at Sing-A-Thon which was said to be a fantastic event. As one of the members of the Alliance noted, the park has asserted the power of public space to create community, which is exactly what the NYCGMC and future events will continue to uphold.
The design, or rather, the way Horatio forms is so unique. In Walking in the City by DeCerteau, he explains the difference between synecdoche and asyndeton. He says, “Synecdoche makes more dense; it amplifies the detail and miniaturizes the whole. Asyndeton cuts out: it undoes continuity and undercuts its plausibility.”
From Chinatown where I live, I take the 1 train up to Christopher Street, walk up 7th avenue, turn left onto Greenwich Avenue, and then a left onto Horatio which brings you to Jackson Square – an actual triangle of Greenwich Avenue / West 13th Street / Horatio Street. It was completely confusing at first; however, I have come to appreciate the complexity of it now.
Once you reach 8th Avenue and Horatio and continue to walk west to the Hudson, begins that transformation of synecdoche and asyndeton. The street assumes such a different narrative as you walk toward the Hudson. On the left side, it’s completely residential – a mix of brownstone and series of apartments. On the right side, it’s a mix of schools, playgrounds and restaurants. Then, between Hudson Street, it’s cobblestone, which adds a different feel to the walk further west.
As with all real estate, the closer you get to the water, the calmer the environment feels, which could not be more true of Horatio. I’ve mentioned this several times over, however, the aptly titled West Coast building could not be more perfectly placed as you approach the end of the street and reach the water. It’s interesting, as a CA native, how the sensation of the sunset and proximity to water almost reverts me back to afternoons at home, even though two blocks away, I was walking on cobblestone and dodging cabs in the intersection – something totally unique to New York living.
Each week I am on Horatio, I would look for something new, correlating with the assignment; however, it’s the sense of community and lack of pretense that I enjoy most. I’ve only ever encountered families and residents walking their dogs or picking up their children. It’s a section of New York that feels totally unique that never gets boring, despite the fact is lacks that 24/7 feeling that rest of the city projects.
This entire sequence of events is what has resonated with me throughout this assignment. As DeCerteau says, you begin with the magnification of detail. You notice every brownstone, the street changes from pavement to cobble stone back to pavement, and you pass Christian Louboutin with its ornate window display and a playground, and more. But as you near the Hudson, the real estate because a little less descript, the noise dissipates and the street does completely undo the continuity of “normal” New York living when you reach the water and then it’s as though you could be anywhere you wanted to be.
I really feel the appeal in Horatio lies within its construction. The following illustrates a bit of the journey you take walking from end to end, which is, just great. As part of the digital representation we covered, I juxtaposed screen shots from Google Maps of aerial views of Horatio with more detailed photos I took to offer a different perspective. The contrast, I think, is interesting, simply in the fact two mediums, a satellite and a personal camera are depicting the same location for one project.
These remaining montages are my most recent discoveries along Horatio. El Faro, on the corner of Horatio and Greenwich Street is a favorite of Olivier Zahm, founder of Purple Magazine. Here, he “dines” with French socialite Evgeniya Blaze. And lastly, following these photos, is a photo of the neon lights which have since been taken down at Christian Louboutin. Via NY City Map, I learned these lights were so bright, they caused the residents across the street to complain, and clearly, they won. Nice concept, unfortunately, it did not last too long.
Week 1 Entry
Perfectly placed in West Village, Horatio Street is perhaps the heart of the village uniting the Meatpacking District and Chelsea. A rather glamorous address among the downtown scene, Horatio Street boasts historic addresses, fabulous shopping and beautiful scenery. Named after General Horatio Gates, known as one of the most controversial military figures of his time, Gates was a retired British solider who served as an American General during the Revolutionary War.
Frequented by The Sartorialist, it is undoubtedly one of the most chic areas in the city. Largely due to the efforts of restauranteurs such as Florent Morellet and the influx of trendy shops throughout the village, it’s a street that is quintessentially all about New York.
With striking views onto the Hudson River, residents are lucky to enjoy Jackson Square Park, one of New York’s oldest and modest parks. Thought to be named after President Andrew Jackson, Jackson Square Park is designed to be a respite for those who visit, live and work in the West Village, says Adrian Benepe, the Parks & Recreation Commissioner. Furthermore, El Faro, a quaint, Spanish restaurant with great reviews and a delicious menu – I am looking to try the Paella a la Valenciana (yum!) – looks to be the perfect spot to enjoy a meal after a full day of taking in the sights on and around Horatio Street.
Notable residents range from real life Top Chef Tom Colicchio to financier Euan Rellie. Lastly, if you are, or happen to know, a distressed bride in search of a very specific wedding cake, this is the street that will recreate the empanada recipe of your Ecuadorian grandmother. Not too shabby.
Week 2 Entry
An almost entirely residential street, Horatio does not exactly boast many billboards, or any signage rather, on the block. However, on a completely chance encounter with my boss, I learned more about Jackson Square Park which has brought me to my latest post. At the completely confusing, yet beautiful, intersection of 8th Avenue , West 13th Street and Horatio Street, Jackson Square is such a standout of the West Village. Formerly a lowly park occupied by the homeless and an infamous Pigeon Lady, visitors of Jackson Square now walk along new blue stone pavement, enjoy a gorgeous, clean fountain and can even sync up with a complimentary Wifi connection.
Members of the Jackson Square Alliance sought to transform the park and give it new life for the community with a larger objective than just being a park. Recently, the New York City Gay Mens Chorus hosted “FIREWORK!” Flash-Mob at Sing-A-Thon which was said to be a fantastic event. As one of the members of the Alliance noted, the park has asserted the power of public space to create community which is exactly what the NYCGMC and future events will continue to uphold.
Truly just a lovely space, it feels completely unique compared to other parks I have visited in the city. There is a comforting feeling to the space, perhaps due to the fact that real people who live in the space sought out to make it better for the larger community which is just an added benefit to the now great park in Jackson Square.
Week 3 Entry
The most intriguing aspect of Horatio Street are the varied apartment buildings and brownstones that adorn this street. After I crossed Hudson Street is when I found the buildings to be the most exciting. They all seemed to tell a different story as I continued walking toward the highway and I will definitely have to do more research into their history.
Walking past this home, I was reminded of a discussion we had in class that brownstones such as this one, with a garage door, were once barns to house horses. Seeing the home now, in 2011, and so rich in history, makes it that much more exciting to know it once served an entirely different purpose, yet still remains in its same location. Furthermore, the playground that is under construction will be just fantastic to see when children and their parents fill the space.
Just a few steps down is the Christian Louboutin boutique. Obviously, Mr. Louboutin has made quite a resurgence back into fashion and his boutique is as decadent and fun as his designs. Extremely quaint, but with such an effective use of space, his corner spot on the block is of tremendous value.
Past Washington Street is my favorite part of Horatio. First, is El Faro restaurant which I am still dying to try. Then are these series of apartments which are so uniform in construction, I wonder what purpose they once served. Perhaps I will be able to speak to a resident of these apartments and find out why they look the way they do.
And lastly, my favorite building, right at the end of Horatio, facing the Hudson is The West Coast. A native of California, immediately, I loved the name of the building coupled by the great scene I spotted outside. There was a lovely couple who looked to have gone away for the weekend unloading their SUV with their two young children, their dog, and the doorman assisting them.
What felt so special about Horatio Street on this particular visit was the feeling of belonging to a particular community and that sense of being home. It’s so rare in the frantic pace of New York to have that home like feeling and for the lucky inhabitants of Horatio Street, this is definitely it.
Week 4 Entry
After reading a Once-Gritty Neighborhood Comes Alive in the 1997 issue of the New York Times, it is so amazing to see that all of the hopes and wishes of the residents of Horatio Street have come to fruition some fourteen years later.
No one minds that the neighborhood is a bit out of the way. Despite a 10- or 15-minute walk to the subway, ”It is a haven, especially when you come back from being uptown. The atmosphere just envelopes you,” said Kathleen Pustarfi, a then resident of Horatio Street.
Myself, a resident of Chinatown, I find that most districts in New York seem to attract very similar types of people. The West Village is that unique neighborhood that is a great exception to the stereotype of New York living. ”We’re a mixed bag — gay, straight, single, married, children, elderly,” said Carol Yankay, then president of the Horatio Street Association. ”You know everyone. Even if you’re not a friendly person, they’ll make it your businesses to know who you are. We consider that an asset.”
Today, all of the dreams the residents of Horatio looked toward have appeared to come true. First, with the groundbreaking developments at Jackson Square Park, as mentioned above, onto the developments by the Rockrose Development Corporation and lastly, the sheer unconventional offerings of living spaces that is appealing to a downtown crowd.
Lynne Funk, owner of an architectural firm at the time, noted the greatest appeal, in my opinion, of the neighborhood. She said, “It’s on a different schedule from a lot of the city,” which is exactly the sentiment I sense to this day. No matter where you come from, there is a certain appeal the west village offers, and specifically, an appeal that Horatio Street gives it’s residents and visitors.
Week 5 Entry
Walking through New York City, especially in a district like the West Village, no matter how amazing the building in front of you may be, there is always the question of what was once there? In a town where the only constant thing is change, it’s fascinating to get the story behind the current landscape we have today.
The New York Public Library’s Digital Galley provided me with some amazing photos of Horatio Street is the early 1900s. First, you see the view of Horatio Street / 8th Avenue / West 13th Street. This is one of the tricky formations where the beautiful Jackson Square Park now resides. Since I have studied Horatio, I wondered why a gas station occupied such great real estate on the block, but low and below, some form of a market / station seems to have been there since 1933 and nearly remains in the same condition.
Continuing on, I so loved this direct pairing of Horatio, in view east of Hudson Street, in 1935 and then today. Unfortunately, the trees and scaffolding block the view of the buildings on the right, but it’s great to see what the street has evolved into. Much more dense and far less commercial, the two views show how much West Village and the Meatpacking District have been built up over time.
Lastly, my favorite comparison is a photo I took by chance, however, almost perfectly matches a photo I found in my research. The photo on the left is a view onto Horatio, from Greenwich Avenue and west south side to Jane Street which is supposed to show the then new building being constructed at 1 Horatio.
Week 6 Entry
As a great counterpart to the photographs above, I found North River: A Novel by Pete Hamill. Set during the Great Depression in New York, North River is the story of Dr. James Delaney, a soldier in the Great War and abandoned by his wife and daughter. The story is all about Delaney’s honor and courage coupled with Hamill’s trademarks of chronicling New York, specifically Union Square, Greenwich Village and Chinatown in a way that resurrects the city from the very pages of the book.
What I enjoyed reading was how different the entire downtown scene used to be. Where Horatio Street is mentioned, other streets such as Jane, Bleecker and Hudson are mentioned as well, and today, all of these boast famous apartment building, chic eateries and trendy shops. In the novel, Delaney is cast up again characters like Sandro Botticelli, Frankie Motts mob, who actually congregate along Bleecker, The Naples Boys and Gyp Ferraro, a notorious gangster who lives with his mother on Spring Street.
One thing that has remained constant is that Horatio has always seemed to be a child friendly block. Even in the novel, there is a nod to children everywhere, running after one another, defying the icy winds of the North River.
Week 10 Entry
To focus solely on the sound of our streets this week was a very interesting task. It brought me out of the element of trying so hard to see new things and discover different aspects of my streets and forced me to really listen to my surroundings. The concept was so cool and definitely brought forth a different perspective onto Horatio Street.
I did an audio recording, simply my musings of what it’s like to walk down Horatio Street in the middle of a Monday afternoon. I started at the West Side High and walked up I suppose.
The best encounters were spotting an elderly gentlemen reading a newspaper on the corner of Washington and Horatio. He was very old fashioned, allowing the papers he had already read to float all along the ground beneath him. Furthermore, he was sitting more on a ledge than an actual seat. It didn’t look very comfortable, however, I’m sure he was enjoying himself.
Then, I walked in on a very heated conversation a man was having with what sounded to be a very disgruntled woman. There was a lot of construction taking place that day, so perhaps she was his client and they were having a disagreement.
Lastly, the playground, which was finally filled with children. Since I’ve began this assignment, the playground has been undergoing renovations, however, it was in full effect Monday and the children looked elated. I noted that that environment was not particularly welcoming to me as a child, however, the children seemed to be enjoying it.
And interestingly enough, I spotted Bethenny Frankel’s in-laws walking her daughter, their granddaughter. They passed me as I was approaching 8th Avenue and I couldn’t believe. Frankel is a former Real Housewife of New York and has a spin off as well called Bethenny Getting Married?
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________Week 11 Entry
In Galloway’s Intimations of Everyday Life, she says that in its broadest sense, ubiquitous computing is currently seen to comprise any number of mobile, wearable, distributed and context-aware computing applications. In this way, Ubicomp may consist of research into ‘how information technology can be diffused into everyday objects and settings, and to see how this can lead to new ways of supporting and enhancing people’s lives.’
This I believe is the best way to describe what the digital landscape consists of on Horatio Street, or rather, in the greater New York City region.
For example, take a screen shot of 3 Horatio via Google Maps Street View.
Compare it with a photo standing on the physical street.
Why bother to visit Horatio Street when you can view it via satellite thanks to Google? Right away, you notice Nick’s Hair Stylist is now FSC Barber and Crystal Energy Reading has expanded, and repainted, to become Psychic Crystal Readings.
With this diffusion of information technology into our everyday lives, it has in turn, become our everyday life. This plays off of a discussion we had during lecture that New York has, in many ways, lost that appeal that certain experiences only exist in New York, this is evidence of such. Of course you may miss the Marilyn Monroe dress blowing in the window of the vintage shop or to overhear the conversation had by this father and daughter regarding her employment issues, but such a dress can be see or, is in some capacity, replicated all around the world, and perhaps that conversation would not enrich someone’s perception of the street if they were too focused on their iPhone to observe the happenings around them. Digital is becoming paramount and New York is a haven for this medium.