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The Washington MEWS

Natural History Museum Entrance

If you have ever walked down Fifth Avenue from 14th street to Washington Square Park, you have probably noticed a small quaint gated cobblestone street with small townhouses to your left just after crossing 8th street. The street looks like a tiny time capsule, far removed from the world of downtown Manhattan high rises and taxi traffic jams.

The Washington Mews is a private gated street between Fifth Avenue and University Place 1 block north of Washington Square Park.

The homes originally built on the land along the north side of Washington Square and the south side of Eighth Street came with two-story stables built along what became known as Washington Mews (meaning a row of stables). Along with MacDougal Alley and Stuyvesant Street, it was originally part of a trail that connected the Hudson and East Rivers.

In 1881, New York City's Department of Public Works ordered the construction of Washington Mews first set of gates at each end, to distinguish the Mews from public streets.

In 1916, Sailors' Snug Harbor, the land-owner at the time, remodeled many of the stables into artist studios, designed by Maynicke & Franke. During the 20th century, artists living there included Paul Manship, Gaston Lachaise, and later Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney.

In the 1950s, New York University leased most of the property and gradually converted the buildings along the Mews into offices and faculty housing. In 1988, NYU hired architect Abraham Bloch to design a new six-foot-high Fifth Avenue gate, replacing the simple posts-and-chain used since the studios were built.

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