Pict0205.jpg (143535 bytes) New York Architecture Images-Greenwich Village

Patchin Place




West 10th St between Sixth and Greenwich Aves. 












On March 20, 1936, Abbott photographed three quaint Village landmarks--Patchin Place, Milligan Place , and Rhinelander Row. She returned to Patchin Place again in 1937.

In 1835, Gilbert and Lucy Milligan granted Patchin Place to their son-in-law Aaron Patchin, and the property remained in the Patchin family until 1920. The ten houses on this tiny cul-de-sac, entered by an iron gate on the sidewalk of West 10th Street, were reputedly built in 1848 as boarding houses for workers at Brevoort House hotel on Fifth Avenue. After the turn of the century, artists and writers discovered the charm of these small houses, isolated from, but accessible to, the Village's cafe life. O. Henry, Theodore Dreiser, John Reed, and, in later years, Abbott's close friend Djuna Barnes and e.e. cummings lived on Patchin Place. After 1917, modern improvements, such as indoor plumbing, electricity, and steam heat, were installed to attract wealthier, more stable tenants. Patchin Place and adjacent Milligan Place were among the city's earliest examples of urban gentrification.

For her first photograph of Patchin Place, Abbott stood on the porch of no. 6, near the entry gate. Bright sunlight cast over barren ailanthus trees created a web of shadows on the sidewalk between the facing rows of houses. In the second photograph, which was included in Changing New York, she stood toward the back of the Place and pointed the camera up through the fire escapes and trees to show the tower of Jefferson Market Court across the street. She avoided the summer months when the trees were full of leaves; the greenery of Patchin Place, which enhanced its peaceful feeling, obscured its architecture.

In 1963, a new owner intended to tear down Patchin and Milligan Places to erect an apartment building, but community activists, led by Democratic district leader Ed Koch, saved the treasured enclaves. The Places were granted landmark status in 1969 and have changed little since Abbott's day.

Special thanks to the Museum of New York, 

   How, for instance, can the ways of such a continent be as inimical as these critics hint to the nobler motions of the soul when a man can wake up as I have done on many a Sunday morning in the most flagrant of all American cities, New York itself, and listen to the silence in the cool-blowing Summer air, while the wind rustles the ailanthus leaves at the window, lifting them up and letting them fall like undulating seaweed in a vast green rock-pool?
("The American scene & character")


The ailanthus is my tree. Her buds are jets
Of greenish fire that float upon the air.
They set my feet upon a Fosse-way, where
Old mills turn mossy wheels and wide sunsets
Redden the outstretched wings the heron wets
In old ponds that the day and darkness share.
Candles they are, that on a wayside bare
Re-gather what the human heart forgets.
Green lamps they are, whose life-sap sweet and strong
Brims from most brittle and most tender wood.
They leave their dusty branches. They float over
The houses and the roofs, a wild-goose throng.
High up they fly, a thin, free multitude,
Leaving their earth, their roots, their twigs, their lover!

John Cowper Powys
Patchin Place, New York, Feb. 1926

Greenwich Village, like Chelsea in London and like the Left Bank of the Seine in Paris, resembles God, in that it is a circle whose circumference diminishes and increases according to human volition! But Patchin Place is unquestionably near its center; and in Patchin Place - where it was my good luck to live for five years - I met some of the most interesting and singular human beings I have ever known. May the mysterious Tao of the great-little Kwang-Tze, then, as still, my chosen household god, hover, with the waving of those ailanthus boughs - his own favorite branches because of their Taoistic freedom from self-assertion - forever over that room and over him who inhabits it and over all those who shall enter into it! (Farewell to America )

EEC at Patchin Place, 1925 (photograph by James Sibley Watson)


"For a couple of decades the topfloorback room at 4 Patchin Place,which Sibley originally gave me,meant Safety & Peace & the truth of Dreaming & the bliss of Work"
--EEC in a  letter to James Sibley Watson's wife Hildegarde (September 18, 1949; Letters 195).


Patchin Place, near Jefferson Market Court House, consists "of a small number of three-storey terraced houses, set about with ailanthus trees, and lining both sides of a blind-alleyway opening on to West 10th Street" (Richard Graves, The Brothers Powys), built in 1848 by Aaron D. Patchin. Ezra Pound had once lived there, and Frances Gregg had come to visit him with Hilda Doolittle, before she knew John Cowper.
       4  PATCHIN  PLACE

This was the place where Miss Alyse Gregory, Editor of The Dial, the well-known literary magazine, lived and where she received one afternoon for tea an as yet not well-known English writer, Llewelyn Powys. They fell in love. In 1922 he came to share her flat and John Cowper had the use of an upper room in this same house, where his companion Phyllis was able to come for a short stay in the summer of 1923.

In October 1924, when Alyse and Llewelyn rented a farm in the Catskills, Phyllis came to live with him in this house until they themselves moved to upstate New York in March 1930.

    Lulu, do you really mean that when I reach New York this summer about the middle of the summer - I don't know yet exactly when - that Phyllis and I may for a little while, whilst we look round and rest, live together in that upper chamber of yours? Do you really mean that? I was so thrilled with happiness at the idea of it that I did hint of it to Phyllis in a letter today. But I suppose I ought not to take advantage of your unmerited disarming to beg for such a wonderful chance! And yet I can't help doing so....
    Well, my dear, I haven't been so happy - not since last summer as I am now. The wheel is turning.
(Letters to His Brother Llewelyn, 14 May 1923)
They've gone and put up iron gates at the entrance to Patchin Place — in the middle of the entrance — leaving the little openings by the new brick posts free. And they've pulled down the Prison — but so far not the Clock tower. In the foundations of this fallen Bastille, from where of so many Sundays we heard the imprisoned Baggages sing about heaven, is an iron clutcher with a dragonish dew-lap scooping earth and hissing with a steamy vibrant roar. I am deaf of one ear — but this noise is very strident. But do you know we can now see the Woolworth tower and also the Singer Tower from the entrance of Patchin Place...(Letters to His Brother Llewelyn, 14 November 1929)

John's troubles aren't over yet I fear. This tap is leaking terribly and when I came back from Marian's this morning, I found Mrs Carol has not been here at all, and I also find that someone has managed to block up the proper flushing of the toilet downstairs - but that may right itself. But I fear the pipes are blocked up - Mr Cummings must have been getting rid of his rejected MSS at a dangerous rate! (Letters to His Brother Llewelyn, 1st October 1924)
Poem, or Beauty Hurts Mr Vinal:

take it from me kiddo
believe me
my country, 'tis of

you, land of the Cluett
Shirt Boston Garter and Spearmint
Girl With The Wrigley Eyes (of you
land of the Arrow Ide
and Earl &
Collars) of you i
sing: land of Abraham Lincoln and Lydia E. Pinkham,
land above all of Just Add Hot Water And Serve -
from every B.V.D.

let freedom ring

e.e. cummings (extract)

Thanks to