A Brief History: Gay Street in Manhattan, with one of the most photographed street signs in New York City, is a small bent path linking Waverly Place to Christopher Street in the West Village, and is no stranger to speakeasies and scandals.

Wouter Van Twiller owned  the land back in the Dutch days. Van Twiller reportedly had his own brewery. Later, a morgue allegedly stood here during ownership by Sir Peter Warren.

During the early 1800s, when Christopher Street was still called Skinner Road, Waverly place was growing in popularity due to it being the northern boarder of Washingtgon Square (built in 1826). Filled with Greek Revival Style homes and home to some of the cities wealthiest families in the 1820s. Gay street, offically got this name in 1833.  It was built as a row of stables for the families living on Waverly and nearby. As the cities population grew some of the stables became low income houseing for some servants working for the wealthy in the neighborhood.

After the 1830s the street was widened and became a home to a lot of artists and musicans. Later on, Gay Street also became a natural location for speakeasies during the 20s. Some of the famous people that lived on the block were Mayor Jimmy Walker and his girlfriend Betty Compton, the Creator of Howdy Doody, Frank Parris and Author Ruth McKenney. Mayor Jimmy Walker owned 12 Gay Street ,where he had his girlfriend stay and Frank Parris reportedly built his famous puppet in the basement of the building. There is still a puppet theater in the basement. Author Ruth Mckenney best known for the book “My sister Eileen”. Unfortunately Ruth’s sister Eileen and her husband, writer Nathaniel West died in a car accident just days before My sister Eileen was to open as a stage production.

 Haunted History: Gay Street has some haunted history in the streets as well as 12 Gay Street, reportedly haunted by an entity seen in a cloak known as the Gay Street Phantom. There have been sensations of unseen beings and footsteps on the stairs at night. A man with a top hat and dress clothes has appeared at the door and evaporated into thin air. Sightings of spirits possibly from the old morgue has been seen in the puppet theater. Residents have seen a shadowy figure down the halls and stairs.



Return To Previous Page