Cooper Square is the lesser-known public space (that has been undergoing eternal construction) just south of Cooper Union's main building and Astor Place. It sits on the border of NoHo, Greenwich Village, East Village, Lower East Side and Bowery all at once.
In this vintage postcard from 1893, see what the square used to look like at night, when the 3rd Ave Elevated ran right through it. For comparison, here is a Google StreetView from approximately the same vantage point of how Cooper Square looks today:
It’s a carnival of history. On the right are modest Federal-style homes with dormer windows, built in the 1820s. Cooper Union’s 1858 Great Hall hosted presidential hopefuls going back to Abraham Lincoln. A sketchier, pre-boutique hotel Cooper Square in late 1980s was also the site of a peddlers’ market of sorts, where the desperate put out anything they could find (or steal) for sale in an empty parking lot.