Bordered by the lovely, private Gramercy Park to the north and the former site of the 1990s uber-club Palladium to the south, Irving Place is a magical stretch of Manhattan with architectural wonders dating to the early 19th Century. Though it’s namesake, Washington Irving, never lived here (contrary to popular belief and several guidebooks), many other notable New Yorkers did, such as Elsie de Wolfe, O. Henry, and scriptwriter George Axelrod (Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Manchurian Candidate, and others).
Irving Place has also hosted several prominent organizations, including the Westminster Kennel Club, The Nation and even the Rosicrucian Order. The north end of the street is dotted with cafes and bars, including the pocket-size 71 Irving Place Coffee and Tea Bar to Pete’s Tavern (where Henry dreamed up “The Gift of the Magi”) to upscale raw food restaurant Pure Food & Wine.
The street’s great contrasting architecture is best viewed at the corner of Irving Place and 19th Street. At 81 Irving, a 1930 neo-Gothic apartment building designed by George Pelham, gargoyles and other fantastic creatures peer down. Across the street, 80 Irving is a four-story townhouse from 1920, completely covered in vines.
The “gem of the neighborhood” sits at the corner of Irving Place and Gramercy Park South. The Stuyvesant Fish House was the center of New York society in the late 1800s. Stanford White remodeled it in 1888, and public relations legend Ben Sonnenberg bought and completely restored it in 1931.
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Image courtesy New York Songlines.