Washington Square Park Via Hand-Drawn 1925 Map — The Lack of Symmetry! (The Bus Station!)


The plans for the recent redesign of Washington Square Park were a tad obsessed with all things being symmetrical. Yet, as we know, it wasn’t always this way. This hand-drawn map above was created by Robert Edwards, the publisher of the Quill, a monthly Village publication published in the 1920s (for I’m not sure how long), in July of 1925. Edwards published Quill magazine, at least for some time, from “46 Washington Square” (no north, south, east, west). He noted that this map was “almost accurate.” And tho’ this map does make it look like the fountain was aligned with the Arch in 1925, it was not at that time or for half a century prior. Note the Bus Station within the park!

Via Slate, A Hand-drawn Map of Bohemian Greenwich Village, 1925:

This map is an affectionate representation of Greenwich Village printed in a 1925 issue of Quill magazine. Billed as “almost accurate,” the map was sketched by the magazine’s publisher, Robert Edwards.

Quill, founded in 1917, carried the tagline “A Magazine of Greenwich Village.” During a time when the neighborhood represented the utmost in urban bohemia, the magazine covered the art, literature, and culture of its residents. Quill even addressed sex directly, publishing the work of the controversial Margaret Sanger.

Edwards’ map showed the businesses that he thought were important to his community: bookshops, coffee shops, restaurants, theaters. Many of these landmarks are now gone. The website Greenwich Village History collects images of some of the vanished businesses’ interiors and exteriors, including a photograph of the Washington Square Book Shop at 17 W. 8th St. (now a spa). Some spots, like the Provincetown Playhouse at 133 MacDougal, still persist, having made it through renovations and changes in ownership.

Besides showing the businesses that mattered to Edwards, the map gives a sense of the diversity of populations living in the Village. Washington Square North, Edwards wrote, was the property of the “Aristocrats” and the “Idle Rich.” “Erin” (Irish immigrants) held down W. 10th St. between Waverly and Greenwich, and “Italia” and “Artists” populated several blocks on the south side of the map.

(Ed. note: Provincetown Playhouse just barely exists…)

A larger version of the map with additional streets in the Village can be seen at Slate.

Additional issues of the Quill as well as the Greenwich Villager can be seen here at Harry Ransom Center which did a great job with the history!

Image: Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

‘Hat tip’ to Romio Greenwich Village site for finding this map.

3 thoughts on “Washington Square Park Via Hand-Drawn 1925 Map — The Lack of Symmetry! (The Bus Station!)

  1. If you ever need reminding that things could have been worse, look at this utter monstrosity proposed in 1951:

    http://gvh.aphdigital.org/items/show/665

    What a soul crushing travesty. I am no fan at all of “Washington Square Village” or Silver Towers, let alone what NYU has proposed to add to them in recent years, but this concept art makes me want to climb into a time machine, go back 62 years, and punch Mr. Eggers and Mr. Higgins in the face for their insult to my home.

  2. VLM, so true! And big sigh…

    Thanks, Richard. I came across that link in researching this but did not include it. That would have been beyond and I don’t actually know what stopped that from happening. But thank goodness. Maybe we’ll look back and NYU Expansion “2031” will somehow be stopped.

    Thanks for the link. Climb back in a time machine… that’s great.

    Cathryn

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