Happy New Year! And what better way to kick off a brand new year than by sharing one of our favorite series with you: Then & Now. Let’s turn the clock back almost 100 years ago to a time when bohemians roamed the Village.
Until the early 1920s, the buildings around Sheridan Square were a lot shorter than they are today. With the exception of the eight-story building at the junction of Washington Place and West 4th Street, which still stands, the square was characterized by three- and four-story brick and wood structures.
Around this time, in 1916, a small monthly magazine called The Ink Pot began publishing stories from its headquarters on Sheridan Square. With one Peter Newton acting as the editor, The Ink Pot was one of a number of short-lived publications in the neighborhood that covered the colorful lives of various Village bohemians. It also provided advertisements for shops, restaurants, and galleries in the area.
The “Then” photograph in this article, courtesy of the Library of Congress, shows Peter Newton and Forest Mann in front of the building that housed The Ink Pot. Mann was part of the editorial staff of The Quill, a similar magazine with an office at 143 West 4th Street (a building that still stands as part of the Greenwich Village Historic District). It is not clear who is who in the photograph, but given Newton’s connection to The Ink Pot he could very well be the man holding the pipe at the doorway.
The photograph offers no written clues as to where in Greenwich Village this photograph was taken, but a “Sheridan Square” tag on the Library of Congress website proved to be just enough to lead me in the right direction. A couple of other historic photographs, including one that shows this building in context with the streetscape, helped me narrow my search to the north side of the square (also known as the western end of Washington Place). After reading that The Ink Pot’s office was located in “an old triangular building” (via a 1923 edition of The Quill) and finding it on the 1916 Bromley map, I figured out that the “Then” photograph was taken at 133 Washington Place.
The “Now” photograph reveals that this building and its neighbors have long been replaced by the six-story brick apartment building at 15 Sheridan Square. The Greenwich Village Historic District Designation Report indicates that this larger edifice was constructed in 1924 to the designs of John Wooley. Tall in comparison to the buildings it replaced, it is now joined by even taller buildings around the square.
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