Minetta Street, Greenwich Village
Minetta Street offers a welcomed respite from Greenwich Village’s notorious crowds, tourists, and traffic. The quiet block has all the best of this town: 19th-century architecture, trees, peace & quiet, solitude… and a rich history you can’t help but encounter as you walk the street’s near-empty sidewalks. In the 17th century, the area was occupied by partially freed slaves who farmed and made their homes along a brook called “Mannette” that flowed into the then-pristine Hudson River. Construction workers in the 19th century covered the brook to make way for expansion — but the bend in Minetta Street today hints at the water still flowing underneath.
Minetta has survived many incarnations: shocking New Yorkers in the late 1800s with mixed-race saloons, brothels, openly gay bars, murders, and rampant crime; a 1920s renaissance of tenement tear-downs, building renovations, courtyards, and gardens; and a quiet, reposed era that turned the block into a popular filming location (Serpico, 13 Conversations About One Thing). And because all Greenwich Village locations partake in music history, Bob Dylan famously wrote “Blowin’ In The Wind” in 1962 inside the old Fat Black Pussycat cafe — now Panchito’s Mexican Restaurant, visible in bright red in the above photo.