When Capt. Richard Randall died in 1801, he left his large farm north of Washington Square to be improved with a home for elderly and disabled sailors. But Sailors' Snug Harbor, as the institution became known, never followed Randall's plan instead leasing the land under a master plan that resulted in row houses along Washington Square North and Eighth Street. A back alley, dividing the two rows between 5th Avenue and University place was dedicated to two-story stables.
Various lessees, working under a uniform master plan, built rows of houses along the north side of Washington Square and the south side of Eighth Street, from Fifth Avenue to University Place. They established a back alley dividing the two rows, dedicating it to two-story brick stables.
Originally open, the alley was gated off in 1881 to distinguish the privately owned Mews from public streets. By the early 20th century, the motor car rapdily phased out the horse and carriage and in 1916 Sailors' Snug Harbor converted 12 of the stables into artist studios. Architects Maynicke & Franke covered the stables with light stucco and decorative tile. They replaced the old iron gate at University Place with an elaborate Mediterranean style birck and stucco gateway with lanterns.
In 1950, NYU leased the property. What was up until then a haven for artists like Paul Manship and Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney gradually became offices and faculty housing. Manship lived at No.44 and set up a studio was No. 46, the current site of Deutches Haus at NYU, where he made the John Pierpont Morgan Memorial and Jack Dempsey once shadow-boxed with Charlie Chaplin. Donald Desky designed the interior of Radio City Music Hall at the same No. 46. Beyond NYU's purchase, though, Edward Hopper remained and died here in 1966.
The lane still has its distinctive Belgian block pavement, and in some cases, like that shown here, the stones are worn down sufficiently enough to resemble cobblestones.
Despite being private property, tourists have strolled their way onto the Mews. In the 1980's, NYU built a six-foot-high gate for the Fifth Avenue end that is locked at night to protect residents.
Greenwich Village Historic District National Register #79001604