The Stoop Girls of Charles Street

Photo: Illustrations by Kagan McLeod

Last summer, two young girls appeared on Charles Street between Bleecker and West 4th Streets. They perched themselves on the front steps of the brownstone at No. 90, and they’ve stayed there, nearly every day, chatting and smoking and playing with their dogs from late morning to early evening, even in the bitter cold. Block residents are used to celebrities—Sarah Jessica and Matthew live there, after all—but they’ve been flummoxed by these new ladies of leisure, who’ve inspired a flurry of intra-block e-mails with titles like “The Girls” that report sightings as late as 4:30 a.m. Few Charles Streeters seem to know who they are or why they’re there.

You can learn a lot by asking. Haley, the brunette, is 23 and from Alabama; blonde Rebecca is 22 and from Pennsylvania. (They declined to provide their last names.) They grew up spending vacations together with their best-friend grandmas before moving to New York last year, basically for kicks. Haley, who dropped out of premed in Alabama, just started English-lit classes at Hunter. “I don’t like to write, but I like grammar,” she says. Rebecca basically does nothing, nor does she know what she wants to do. They share an apartment a few blocks west; their parents paid months of rent in advance. But even in the dead of winter, they prefer the stoop to their living room—although they chafe at their status as block icons. “We’re not into the fame thing,” Haley says. “But this is what we do.”

“They sit there all day, every day. We often wonder what they do and how they have an income, because I would love to have a job where I just sit around.”
—Felipe Quillin, works at the Bathroom Store, down the block

“When they first came, I thought they were taking a break or something. Then I saw them all day. They’re nice girls; they don’t bother nobody. I miss them when they walk away.”
—Sal Mendoza, working on the house next door

“They’ve stopped by and looked at my painting. I think it’s crazy they sit out all day if it’s cold. If it’s too cold, I stay home.”
—John Silver, paints on the corner of Charles and West 4th

“They said they’d walked all over the city and they loved Charles Street because the people were very friendly. So they moved to the Village, and that’s all I know. I’m a libertarian—they should do what they wanna do.”
Ellen Singer, lives across the street

“They seem very nice. There’s somebody in our building that’s getting very upset about it, thinking it’s so crazy. I said, ‘It is kind of bizarre,’ and he said, ‘It’s more than bizarre. It’s going to turn out to be a murder plot!’ But it doesn’t horrify me; it’s just an unusual situation.”
—Eric Spilker, lives down the block

Have good intel? Send tips to

The Stoop Girls of Charles Street