Washington Square and SoHo

College football starts next week (Go Ducks!), so I thought it might be a good idea to get in a long walk this weekend.  I went through a lot of neighborhoods, but to keep it simple let's just say I did the Washington Square side of Greenwich Village and SoHo.  In all it was a little over 21 miles.  In the gallery below I also included some streets that I walked back on February 20 (they're the ones where everyone is sad and there's snow everywhere).

Today's walk (everything inside the red lines, 02/20/2014 portions in blue)

Today's walk (everything inside the red lines, 02/20/2014 portions in blue)

Washington Square
Greenwich Village was once a small town north of Manhattan that was eventually engulfed by the city as it grew north.  It is usually divided into two portions: the West Village (the non-grid conforming area west of Greenwich Ave. / 6th Ave.) and the Washington Square / NYU neighborhood.  As suggested, the primary landmarks of this neighborhood are Washington Square Park and NYU.  

Washington Square Park is built on a mass grave from the early 1800's.  When indigent or yellow fever-infected folks in old New York died, they buried them here (somewhere around 20,000 in all).  Neat-o! It was turned into a park around 1850 and in 1892 a marble arch honoring George Washington (designed by famous architect Stanford White) was erected at the north entrance where Fifth Avenue begins.  In the 1950's/60's the park's iconic fountain was a favorite hangout of beatniks and folksingers, and today there are always a number of musicians and other entertainers (actors, puppeteers, etc.) performing.  It's just generally a cool place to hang out and people watch on a sunny day.

On to New York University ("NYU").  You probably know Albert Gallatin best as the Secretary of the Treasury under Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and second best as the namesake of a scenic Montana river.  He also founded NYU in 1831 and served as it's first president.  NYU is less a notable landmark than it is a theme of the neighborhood.  The campus is made up of several scattered buildings most highly concentrated around Washington Square.  There's no common architectural theme other than the big purple NYU flags hanging out front.  I happened to be walking by on freshmen move-in day, which was interesting because it was the only way that you would know that many of the buildings were student housing.

SoHo (and some other stuff)
The name SoHo refers to the area being "SOuth of HOuston".  However, I think this description is overly broad, since the district technically ends at Canal St. to the south and is only nine blocks wide (6th Ave. - Crosby St.).  SoHo-NoCan-EaSix-WeCro is a mouthful though.  Anyway, SoHo is known for its boutique shopping and 19th century cast-iron architecture.  It's a nice area, but it gets crowded on weekends and I'm pretty sure everyone there is judging me.

I also walked through Little Italy and NoLIta ("NOrth of Little ITAly"), which are bordered by Houston and Canal to the north and south and Crosby and Bowery to the east and west (Broome St. is usually regarded as the division between Little Italy and NoLIta).  Today the neighborhood has lost a lot of its (and I can't believe that I'm about to use this word) "authenticity" (*cringe*).  I only mean that in the sense that, while there are a bunch of Italian restaurants and flags, it's no longer home to a significant population of Italian people.  It's really more of a tourist draw than anything else, but there are more offensively tacky and just plain terrible places in this town (*cough*TIMESSQUARE*cough*), so I won't complain.