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Washington Mews - The Private Street in New York City

Updated on March 9, 2012
Looking west across University Place at Washington Mews
Looking west across University Place at Washington Mews
La Maison Franaise
La Maison Franaise
Younger houses on the south side of the alley built 1930s
Younger houses on the south side of the alley built 1930s
Glucksman Ireland House
Glucksman Ireland House

Unique Neighborhood - Washington Mews

The British mews describes s row of stables with room for the carriage storage below. There was room for living quarters above the stables. The mews were built around a paved yard, along a street or behind a large town house.  It is sometimes applied to a narrow passage or a confined place – like an alley.  According to Luther Harris, who is preparing a history of the area, private streets for stables are common in other cities like London but very rare in New York. Washington Mews in New York City may be one of the most expensive alleyways in New York.  It runs between 5th Avenue and University Place, one block north of Washington Square North.   Washington Mews is located at 5th Ave and Washington Mews, New York, NY 10003, Neighborhood: Greenwich Village. The distinctive Belgian block pavement  stones are worn down sufficiently enough to resemble cobblestones.

Film Ends at Washington Mews

History of Washington Mews

In the beginning the Mews was open, and then later closed by gates, the Mews was open again after 1916. An 1879 picture of Washington Mews shows the small street completely open. Sometime in 1881 the New York City Department of Public Works ordered the gates placed at each end, apparently to distinguish the privately owned Mews from public streets. When Capt. Richard Randall died in 1801, he bequeathed his large farm north of Washington Square to be enhanced with a domicile for aged and disabled sailors. Sailors' Snug Harbor never followed Randall's plan for the property. As the institution became known, it rented the land for long terms to people building their homes. Sailors' Snug Harbor used the income to launch its huge complex on Staten Island. When Sailors' Snug Harbor opened in 1833, it was the first residence for retired merchant seamen in the history of the United States. It started with a single building, which is now the centerpiece in the row of five Greek Revival buildings on the New Brighton waterfront of Staten Island.

The house and stable at 3 Washington Square North was bulldozed to make way for a studio building in 1884. About that time, the first artists occupied the area as the center of trendy dwellings reached as far north as Central Park. With improved transportation in the area, Dr. William T. Manning, rector of Trinity Church and a trustee of Sailors' Snug Harbor decided to remodel 12 of the stables by 1916. The plan was to transform the stables into spacious and light studios for artists who were making Washington Square one of their preferred places.

Architects covered the brick stables with light stucco and decorative tiles. The old Iron Gate at University Place was replaced with an elaborate Mediterranean style brick and stucco gateway with lanterns. But at the Fifth Avenue end the old Iron Gate was replaced with a simple chain between two posts, apparently to permit easy access by automobile.

The houses on the south side of the alley were built in the 1930s and are younger than the more ancient original stables on the north side. The Mews preserved its personality, even after 10 new two-story houses masquerading as converted stables were built on it across from 1 Fifth Avenue in 1939. The cobblestoned Washington Mews is one of the most extraordinary narrow roads in New York City. Its converted two-story stables make it a kind of hideaway from the jostle and commotion of the city.

Crimes have provoked a replacement of gates for the private Greenwich Village street - destroying its open, unexpected character. Around 1950 New York University leased the entire property from Sailors' Snug Harbor. As the resident artists died the buildings were taken over for offices and faculty housing. For years, students dreamed of living in the Mews. Tourists have nonchalantly strolled down the picturesque Mews, guidebooks in hand, ignorant to the fact that it is nonetheless a private street. Residents of the Mews complained of increasing numbers of burglaries, and so New York University retained the architect to design a new six-foot-high gate for the Fifth Avenue end. The gate is unlocked during the day, but still creates a sense of privacy. The relaxed, wide open quality of the Mews disappeared as yet another barrier goes up in an increasingly guarded city.

Washington Mews:
5th Ave and Washington Mews, New York, NY 10003

get directions

New York University:
NYU, New York, NY 10003, USA

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La Maison Française:
16 Washington Mews, New York, NY 10003, USA

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Deutsches Haus at New York University:
42 Washington Mews, New York, NY 10003, USA

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Glucksman Ireland House at New York University :
1 Washington Mews, New York, NY 10003, USA

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Famous Houses in Washington Mews

La Maison Française, at 16 Washington Mews, houses New York University's French House, has been the heart of French-American educational and scholarly exchange since its founding in 1957. These events, nearly all of which are free and open to the public, focus on diverse aspects of French and Francophone civilization and culture in historical as well as contemporary perspectives.

No. 46 was a studio is the current site of Deutsches Haus at New York University has conducted language courses since the late 1970s. The Language Program at Deutsches Haus operates on a quarterly schedule. Within the entrance to historic, cobblestoned Washington Mews stands a New York landmark.

Glucksman Ireland House provides access to Irish and Irish-American culture and fosters excellence in the study of Ireland, Irish America, and the global Irish Diaspora.

Washington Mews

58 Washington Mews, New York NY:
58 Washington Mews, New York, NY 10003, USA

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New York University:
NYU, New York, NY 10003, USA

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Thinking of Living in Washington Mews?

Public Records

Official property, sales, and tax information from county (public) records as of 12/2009: Single-Family Home located at 58 Washington Mews, New York NY. The average list price for comparable homes for sale is $2,557,444. The average sales price for comparable recently sold homes is $8,010,000. 58 Washington Mews is in the Greenwich Village neighborhood in New York, NY. The average list price for Greenwich Village is $1,903,914.

· Single Family Residential

· 1,400 sq ft

· Lot Size: 0.02 acres

· Built In 1899

· Stories: 2 story

· 1 Unit

· 1 Building

· County: New York

Source: Public Records


Property Taxes

+ $560,000
= $1,880,000
+ $30,026
= $100,800
Source: Public Records


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    • dashingclaire profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from United States

      No Youngcurves19, I have to depend on others for the pictures. The resources and work cited has links to websites w/truly wonderful pictures of the Mews. Thanks for the comment

    • Youngcurves19 profile image


      8 years ago from Hawaii

      wonderful pictures did you take them


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