Village Preservation’s Historic Image Archive is a treasure trove of photographs that display the visual history of our changing neighborhoods and notable New York City landmarks and sites. We are fortunate to have recently added to that a collection of images from Linda Yowell, a longtime Village Preservation Trustee, valued chair of our Preservation Committee, and West Village resident. An award-winning architect and preservationist, Linda has worked on townhouses, apartments and loft buildings, and educational institutions throughout New York City and in the Hudson Valley and the Berkshires. She has also served as President of the Center for Architecture Foundation, Secretary of the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, and on the board of the Salisbury Association and the Historic House Trust of New York City.
Linda’s photographs document streets, buildings, and storefronts throughout Greenwich Village, with a particular emphasis on the West Village in the 1990s. There is also a range of images taken in the 1970s-80s, and on the whole the collection tells the story of buildings within an area of the city that are in the process of being restored, altered, or sometimes destroyed. She often captured architectural details of row houses and storefronts, documenting features that contribute to the distinctive qualities of the neighborhood.
Threaded throughout these images are the storefronts of small businesses, some remaining to this day, some long gone. A melancholy truth of New York City is that its unique small businesses are too-often transient. Greenwich Village, the East Village, and NoHo contain many small, independent businesses, and they are among the features that make these neighborhoods so special. Village Preservation works hard to help support and protect them.
This image shows a special store that unfortunately went out of business in 2015. For more than twenty years, House of Cards & Curiosities occupied the storefront at 23 8th Avenue. It housed an eclectic array of trinkets, such as tiny animal figurines, rare stationery items like one-of-a-kind stickers and colorful rubber erasers, and even shark teeth and fossils. The novelty shop served as an incidental hospital gift shop, with St. Vincent’s Hospital located just down the block, and was also popular among both locals and tourists visiting the Village.
Another location that has long been full of “curiosities” is 632 Hudson Street. The pair of buildings, 630 and 632, began their life as two adjoining townhouses in 1847, one built for the family of Stephen Kane, a sashmaker, and the other for the family of Richard Towning. By 1855, No. 632 was operating as a boarding house, and in 1881 Hugh King, an Irish immigrant, purchased both houses and converted them into a general storefront and warehouse for his liquor importing and exporting business.
632 Hudson Street’s next adaptation was as a sausage factory, as seen in the above 1982 photograph. The Esteve family, proprietors of Esteve Packing Corporation, bought the building during World War II, and retained it until the 1990s (though the sausage factory closed in 1983). The building had fallen to a degree of disrepair by the time Karen Lashinky purchased it in 1992. She transformed it into “632 on Hudson,” adaptively reusing the building as an event space, replete with an astonishing collection of antiques and artifacts from all over the world. Learn more about this building’s fascinating history here.
Right next door is Myers of Keswick, captured here in 1999, and a family business that happily remains to this day! A “traditional British store in the heart of NYC,” Myers of Keswick was founded in 1985 by expat Peter Myers and his wife Irene. They chose the location based on its proximity to meat markets at the time, as that made it easier to source the ingredients required to make their traditional sausage rolls and Cornish pasties.
A West Village mainstay, Garber Hardware, used to be found at 49 8th Avenue. The hardware store has been family-owned and operated since its inception in 1884 (perhaps making it one of the longest standing hardware stores in New York City). Though Garber’s is no longer located on 8th Avenue, they are now just a few blocks away at 710 Greenwich Street, with a second location in Chelsea.
There are so many more storefronts and architectural treasures to discover in the Linda Yowell Collection. Click here to view the full collection, and email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to donate your own images.