Monday, July 15, 2013

1961 Village Map

There's a 1961 map of Greenwich Village hanging in the men's room at Julius' bar. If you see it there, you might think, as I did, that it's an antique, a one of a kind that you'll never be able to find. But that'd be wrong. A week later I saw it again, this time in the window of a frame shop on 14th Street.



The map, originally drawn and published by cartographer Lawrence Fahey, was rediscovered and reprinted by local tour guide and amateur historian Tom Bernardin, author of the Ellis Island Cookbook.

Tom told me the story behind the map: "When my dear friend Margot Gayle died, her daughter called me and asked if I wanted to go to her apartment for Greenwich Village and New York City books and stuff. Fortunately, I had a friend here and we loaded up a taxi. For the longest time, I had the map, folded, staring me in the face. A friend was unemployed and teaching himself Photoshop. So I had it scanned and he spent hours meticulously cleaning it up. Fold lines, etc. Quite a job. I had 800 printed. Quite a financial layout and my friends think I am nuts. But I knew it was just too wonderful not to have it out there."



This large, handsome poster is an extraordinary time capsule of the Village in 1961--which basically means the 1950s. It took Fahey three and a half years to make the map and he published the first edition in 1960. "Every important place in the Village is drawn on the map," says the cartographer's explanation, including bookstores, bars, restaurants, shops, movie houses, and places to buy chickens.

Fahey opted not to include the Hudson River Waterfront because, he wrote, it "lacks the charm of the 'Old Village' and the zest of Bohemia. The same is true of the area south of Prince Street where depressing loft buildings and dark streets would hardly appeal to any visitor."

These areas were omitted so the map could include Astor Place and its environs, including the galleries of 10th Street, Fourth Avenue's Book Row, and McSorley's Old Ale House, "that famous old 'for men only' hangout."



The slice of the city you'll find in this map is filled with the vanished. The people who lived in its world and roamed its streets cared about different things. They must have loved books, because there are lots of bookstores. They also must have loved going to the movies, listening to jazz, and drinking coffee in ramshackle cafes.

Of all the coffee houses listed, I believe only Cafe Reggio remains. The bookshops have been wiped out. A few of the restaurants are still in operation, like Seville and Gene's, but most are gone or have been gutted and re-branded, like Fedora, Rocco's, and the Waverly Inn.

This is the kind of artifact you'll want to gaze at for a long time, the kind that can transport you--and break your heart.



You can buy a copy of the map for $20 by contacting Tom Bernardin directly via email: ellisbook@aol.com, or telephone: 212-229-0202. Then have it framed at the 14th Street Framing Gallery.

14 comments:

Rick Ortiz said...

4th Avenue was Book Row, in the vicinity of Strand...
I miss those days...

Mark said...

This is super!

I got to dine in at least a dozen of those restaurants, many of which hung on until the 90's and beyond. I'm going to get a copy of this map!

The Street Formerly Known as Prince said...

"the area south of Prince Street where depressing loft buildings and dark streets would hardly appeal to any visitor."

Some people, even cartographers, just didn't get it.

I guess that's why there are a lot of rich-on-paper artists still there.

Pat said...

Albert's French Restaurant featured a short bus tour of Greenwich Village along with the dinner. I went with my mother around the time this map was drawn. Briggs bookstore on Fourth Avenue was Harold & Gertrude Briggs. After Harold died Gertrude moved the bookstore to two different locations on East 7th Street. The last was 64 East 7th Street, Books 'N Things.

Anonymous said...

My parents used to go to the Rienzi's all the time with friends. The Dante is still full of neighborhhod people.

Love this project and have ordered my map.

Moira said...

Wow!! I thought I was the only one with an original copy of that map. Found mine back in the 70s. Not sure where I bought it, but something tells me it was likely the old Canal St flea market that was in a parking lot on the corner of Greene St.

I clearly recall spotting it on a table- buried under a pile of random junk. It was folded up and thickly swaddled in a piece of Saran Wrap with a little round price sticker on the corner. I asked the curmudgeonly old proprietor if I could open it up and look at it, but he said I had to take it "as is". My instincts told me I was holding something precious, so I forked over the $2. Funny, the details the stick in your mind.

It occupies a special place in my heart, as a map freak and a NYC history nut- and since my family has been based in the West Village since 1970, it's particularly evocative for me. Every once in a while I unearth it, spread it out, and take a trip back in time- checking the tally as the years pass, noting what's still around and what's disappeared.

Always meant to have it framed, and always felt it was something that should be enjoyed by the wider public. Kudos to Tom for making the effort to share it. And many thanks to Jeremiah for the excellent blog.

Anonymous said...

No bike lanes, in this map, where ShittyBikes can shill!

laura said...

first time in village was 1960. i got to see real beatniks & some "gay" people. (didnt know what to call them, children didnt know of such things). i returned in 1963 as a weekend visitor. later on weekdays, evenings, then overnights. finally i moved there, i still think its great.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that, like many Americans, you're obsessed with heritage chiefly because your country has relatively little in world terms. That's why it genuinely "breaks your heart". Here in Europe, London to be exact, we're surrounded every day by buildiings and places that are [i]thousands[/i] of years old, which explains why we can't get too worked up about 50-year-old coffee shops. Indeed, this natural churn (and renewal) of establishments is what actually defines any large city, and none more so than New York.

Kevin Edwards said...

I live in athens ohio and have an original fahey 1961 village map forsale check online craigslist athens ohio...just talked to george glazer there in ny about its worth

i found this site when i googled lawrence fahey

Sam Vaseghi said...

A great Photo Jeremiah! It found its way to be the cover of a great Greenwich novel by Maurio Mevlud Martino, "No Ballyhoo". Published soon by www.l-aleph.com

mauro mevlud martino said...

dear jeremiah... thank you for helping to preserve the best traditions of the past... i was pleasantly surprised to hear the story behind it and so happy that sam vaseghi, my publisher, chose it as the cover for my novel 'no ballyhoo' that will soon be released... it is very appropriate and i believe such a rare but destined find... mauro mevlud martino

Katherine Fahey said...

Thanks so much for posting this Lawrence was my father. This is my favorite of his maps. He was a great guy. I miss him every day.

Marie Rooney said...

Thank you for posting this. Lawrence was my uncle, I grew up looking at his maps. We all miss him.