that Merton and I lived on the same street in Greenwich Village, 38 years apart. Merton lived at 35 Perry Street while studying at Columbia in the late 30s; I lived at 12 Perry from 1974 to 1980, in a third-floor, two-room apartment distinctive for its irregular pentagonal shape, for the noise of traffic on Seventh Avenue down below and of Seventh Avenue IRT subway trains, and for the westerly view.
The intersection of Seventh and Perry, and of Waverly Place, which comes at Perry from the north-northwest and slices across Seventh, is unusually wide, a good 90 feet from the Seventh Avenue sidewalk on the southeast corner, across six lanes, to the sidewalk on the southwest, which is technically on Waverly rather than Seventh. The low buildings along Seventh, and then west of Seventh between Perry and Charles, meant that I could see a great expanse of sky out my window, one you’d have expected to be a perk of a higher-rise (and -rent) apartment house. The point being that from my window at 12 Perry, I could see No. 35, the building on the left in the photograph above. For part of the time I lived at No. 12, I had a girl friend at the building on the right, No. 33.
The photograph below is a view of No. 12 from across Seventh Avenue. The arrow points to my bedroom window. You can see what I mean about the intersection. Summer thunderstorms were great shows at 12 Perry, up above the roiling clouds, down below the pedestrians walking a little faster then a little faster still then thinking they’d better take cover and finding nearly none. On the west side of Seventh between Perry and West 11th Street, the awning of the Village Vanguard jazz club protruded from building front to curb, an umbrella for the first few to find it, then for only a few more. If the wind picked up, turning the rain to lashes, the shelter was soon shelter no more, and the walkers would shrug and think Oh, hell, I can’t get any wetter, and walk on.
Below is a view of the intersection from just outside 12 Perry, looking south along Seventh. Just to add pathos to nostalgia, that view used to include the World Trade Center. (These views are all courtesy of Google’s street view, which I suppose means they’re copyrighted, but then this is the Internet.)