“And tell me what street compares to Mott Street in July” — August

IF you don’t know this line from the Rodgers and Hart song Manhattan—you should (and here it is in a medley sung by Ella Fitzgerald that combines two Rodgers and Hart songs, Manhattan and I’ll Take Manhattan. I’m calling Mott today’s #StreetoftheDay because we’re having such fabulous weather in New York that you can’t walk down Mott without humming this song.

That seems to be the upside of climate change—we’ve been having a lot of beautiful days in spring, summer, and fall. Today’s temperature eventually climbed to 79•, but this is August, when brown, sticky days in the high 90s were historically common. And the humidity was only 35%, while there was hardly a cloud in the sky. We’ve had lots of days like this for years now, but with early, cold, and sometimes long winters. August is usually the worst time to be in New York, but not recently.

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After the jump, more pictures of Mott Street (and a little history).

The church on the left in the photos above is the Original St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The Catholic cemetery in New York was designated in 1807 as the site for the city’s first Catholic cathedral. At the time, the land was well north of the city, surrounded by farms and country houses. But it became part of Little Italy, now long gone.

When SoHo boomed in the 1990s, leading many national chain stores to move to West Broadway, the old streets to the east—Mott Street, Mulberry Street, and Elizabeth Street—became a place for young designers and the like to open small shops in storefronts that once housed butchers and barbers. Tory Burch‘s first store was on Elizabeth, for example. Today there is a combination of hip stores, cafés, bars, and restaurants.

The streets are narrower than the New York side streets made standard by the Commissioner’s Plan of 1911, while most of the buildings lining the streets are small, with narrow shops that give the street variety and scale. On a beautiful day like today, there are few more pleasant streets in New York for a comfortable walk.

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About John Massengale

Architect, Urbanist, Author, Educator
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