The new map is an illustrated insider’s guide to Greenwich Village
BY LESLEY SUSSMAN | For nearly a decade, two Charles Street residents have traced their way from Elvis Presley’s favorite haunts in Memphis, Tennessee, to their new map of Greenwich Village, an illustrated insider’s guide to the sights and the must-see sounds that have made the community a must visit for tourists and New Yorkers alike.
For Alan Grossman, 77, and his late wife, Andrea Shaw – both lifelong Elvis fans – “The Memphis Map for Elvis Fans” was the definitive guide to enjoying Memphis and Graceland like Elvis did it. Now, in their “Where is Greenwich Village?” map, released this month, users will find 150 handpicked places to see in the neighborhood.
“These are famous places and hidden gems that you won’t discover on your iPhone,” Grossman said.
Grossman added that the map is a much-needed introduction for both local residents and tourists to a neighborhood once inhabited by Lenni Lenape Indians and that immigrants, rebels, artists and celebrities have all called home.
“It’s a map where almost 150 points of interest can be found in seven categories, including history, literature, art and architecture, film and television locations, music, theater and important educational sites,” he said.
“We felt that visitors – and even locals – needed a curated guide to see the neighborhood as it should be seen – up close and on foot – and a guide created by two longtime local residents who have lived in the neighborhood for many years.”
What’s next for Grossman? A map of the United States? The moon? The universe?”
He laughs at the question.
“That’s a good question,” he replied. “I’m not really sure. Maybe something a little closer to home, like our neighboring neighborhood, Chelsea. People also suggest Brooklyn. At this point, my team and I are looking around and thinking about it.
His research and design team, he explained, consists primarily of former Charles Street resident Brigid McMenamin, writer and editor Karyn Feiden, and adjunct professor at Michael L. Kelly. Pratt who teaches undergraduate communications design and typographic information design.
So what’s behind this whole card business, Grossman asked. Is he card crazy? Is it some kind of magnificent obsession? Again, Grossman burst out laughing.
“No, it’s just that Andrea and I have always been interested in cards,” he explained. “We always made simple maps when we traveled, creating little maps to know the key places we wanted to go.
“Even when friends visited us from out of town, we would give them a little Google-like map of the village,” he said. “This map was something we thought of when we were in Memphis looking for Elvis’ favorite hangouts and we couldn’t find them.
“During the process of creating the map for the Elvis fans, people in Memphis kept asking us where we were from, and we told them New York. And they were intrigued whether or not no we had made a map of where we lived in. It got us thinking and Andrea loved the idea of making a map of our own neighborhood.
Asked about the two or three best places he discovered in his own neighborhood that he didn’t really know well having lived here for years, Grossman said they included 16 Barrow St., the home of Hank Greenberg, the “Hebrew Hammer”. and prodigious home run hitter; Cobble Court at 121 Charles St., a wooden house that was once home to Margaret Wise Brown, author of the children’s classic “Goodnight Moon,” and the Sanctum Sanctorum at 177A Bleeker St., the mythical mansion of Dr. Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme, a Marvel Comics book hero and, later, the subject of a Walt Disney film.
He added that map users will learn where to find “counterculture hotspots and literary watering holes, as well as legendary entertainment spaces and distinctive architecture. They will also learn about the role the gay community has played in the neighborhood and the historical contributions of African Americans.
Shaw died in 2016. Creating the map took longer than expected, Grossman said, due to the COVID health crisis.
“In 2013 and 2014, we started the process of creating the map, but the places were closing due to COVID,” he recalls. “We had to keep redoing the map. It was also difficult to reunite with people who were self-isolating. We originally included many interesting bars and restaurants but suddenly they all closed.
The “Where is Greenwich Village?” The card, which sells for $12.95, is currently sold at Three Lives & Company Bookstore, 154 W. 10th St., and on Amazon.