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Throwback Thursday: The Kickoff on King Street

Welcome to the inaugural post in our Throwback Thursday series where we will share some of our favorite old photos of everyday life in the Village, East Village, and Noho. Do you have a great old photo of you, a friend, or a relative in one of our wonderful neighborhoods? Please share them with us in the comments, via email at gvshp@gvshp.org, or on our Facebook page!

Then-King Street
Photo caption: “Maybe the Giants Could Use Them” – taken on September 5, 1964 by New York World Telegram & Sun staff photographer Paul Palumbo. Source: Library of Congress.

Fifty years ago this fall, four Italian-American kids were photographed playing football on the streets of the South Village for the New York World Telegram & Sun newspaper. The image, entitled “Maybe the Giants Could Use Them,” was taken on September 5, 1964 by staff photographer Paul Palumbo. It captures a quintessential New York City moment – kids at play on the city’s streets – which reminds me of my own father who was likely playing street hockey in Brooklyn on the Saturday that this photograph was taken on King Street.

The view from MacDougal Street west towards Sixth Avenue provides us with a glimpse of many buildings now within the Charlon-King-Vandam Historic District (designated less than two years later on August 16, 1966). Interestingly, the photograph marks New York’s final year without the Landmarks Law, which was enacted the following year in 1965.

A range of building types spanning the area’s architectural development can be found here, from the 1820s Federal houses on the right to the 1960 white brick apartment building just visible on the left. Those Federals, located at 15 and 17 King Street, are hard to miss with their gabled roofs. The designation report for the Charlton-King-Vandam Historic District notes that these two houses “most clearly retain their original Federal flavor. Although their doors and lintels have been altered, they retain their original pitched roofs, dormers and cornices. The doorways are in their original state, as are their shallow stoops.” This historic district is particularly well-known for its intact Federal houses, one of which will be featured in GVSHP’s upcoming house tour on Sunday, May 4th (buy tickets in advance here!).

Past these two Federals are more 19th century rowhouses and tenements. Loft buildings loom in the background. Just out of the picture is 43 MacDougal Street – which would be to the photographer’s right – an 1846 Greek Revival rowhouse that has fallen into disrepair over the last few decades. After much persistence from GVSHP and neighbors, the owner of the current building is finally working with the Landmarks Preservation Commission to return it to livable condition.

Now-King Street
Same view in April 2014. Photo by GVSHP.

Today, thanks to landmark protections, these beautiful historic buildings look much the same as they did on that sunny afternoon in 1964. Terra cotta-colored street signs, which indicate the street is part of the Charlton-King-Vandam Historic District, are visible under the yellow street light on the right-hand side of the 2014 photograph. Perhaps the most noticeable change here is the increase in street trees, which have gradually been planted all over Manhattan in the last few decades.

Stay tuned for more Throwback Thursday posts featuring everyday street scenes in our amazing neighborhoods!

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