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Frozen In Time

Notes from Deborah Snoonian, P.E., Senior Editor

Last Friday morning I awoke to a snowstorm and took this picture from my front window. I am fortunate to live in a clean and (relatively) affordable building on Charlton Street in Manhattan, a charming slice of urban calm. Located in the interstitial space formed by the West Village, SoHo, and TriBeCa, Charlton Street is within walking distance of the amenities of those neighborhoods—shops, restaurants, galleries—but lacks the tourists, the traffic, and the noise. When I leave for work in the morning, I encounter a cavalcade of dog walkers exchanging pleasantries as their broods pant and frolic. The block association organizes community projects like planting trees in nearby parks and donating a plaque to Engine 24-Ladder 5 on Sixth Avenue, which lost eleven firefighters in the World Trade Center attacks. The association’s chair, Richard Blodgett, has written up a nice little history of the area:

The private homes on Charlton Street were built in the 1820s and 1830s by fur trader John Jacob Astor on what were then the grounds of a magnificent country estate. The north side of Charlton Street [pictured] today contains the longest unbroken row of Federal and early Greek Revival homes extant in New York City… In recognition of our neighborhood’s historic and architectural importance, in 1966 the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission designated Charlton, King, and Vandam Streets, from Sixth Avenue to Varick Street, as [an historic] district.

After snapping this photo, I sat at the window watching the snow fall for a while before beginning the day. Maybe it’s the latent New Englander in me talking, but these historic homes seem even lovelier festooned with snow. I’m glad the storm slowed me down enough to enjoy them.

Excerpt from "The Story of Charlton Street" © 2002 Richard Blodgett

Photography © 2002 Deborah Snoonian




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