All posts by Andrew Berman of Village Preservation

Featured Story

Features, Greenwich Village, GVSHP, History, People

Lorraine Hansberry’s Greenwich Village: From ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ to civil rights

By Andrew Berman of Village Preservation, Thu, October 12, 2017

Google Street View of 337 Bleecker Street

Lorraine Hansberry, the trailblazing playwright, activist, and Nina Simone song inspiration was perhaps most closely associated with Chicago. But in fact she lived, went to school, and spent much of her life in Greenwich Village, even writing her best known play “A Raisin in the Sun” while living on Bleecker Street. And shortly a historic plaque will mark the site of her home on Waverly Place.

Learn the full history here

Featured Story

Features, Greenwich Village, GVSHP, History

Uncovering the sites of the South Village’s secret ‘Little Italy’

By Andrew Berman of Village Preservation, Thu, October 5, 2017

Caffe Reggio, via Prayitno/Flickr

Many think of Little Italy’s Mulberry Street or the Bronx’s Arthur Avenue as the centers of Italian-American life and culture in New York. But some of the most historically significant sites relating to the Italian-American experience in New York can be found in the Greenwich Village blocks known as the South Village–from the first church in America built specifically for an Italian-American congregation to the cafe where cappuccino was first introduced to the country, to the birthplace of Fiorello LaGuardia, NYC’s first Italian-American mayor.

All the historic sites right this way

Featured Story

East Village, Features, Greenwich Village, GVSHP, History

Iconic album covers of Greenwich Village and the East Village: Then and now

By Andrew Berman of Village Preservation, Thu, September 28, 2017

There’s no shortage of sites in the Village and East Village where great makers of popular music lived or performed. Less well known, however, are the multitude of sites that were the backdrop for iconic album covers, sometimes sources of inspiration for the artists or just familiar stomping grounds. Today, many are hiding in plain sight, waiting to perform an encore for any passersby discerning enough to notice. Ahead, we round up some of the most notable examples, from “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” to the Ramones’ self-titled debut album.

Learn about the covers and see what the locations look like today

Featured Story

Features, Greenwich Village, GVSHP, History, Landmarks Preservation Commission, Union Square

827-831 Broadway today via Wiki Commons (L); Willem de Kooning in his Fourth Avenue studio, April 1946. Harry Bowden, photographer. Harry Bowden papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.Via The Willem de Kooning Foundation. (R)

Underneath the lyrical and much-admired sherbet-colored facades of the twin lofts at 827-831 Broadway lies a New York tale like no other. Incorporating snuff, sewing machines, and cigar store Indians; Abstract Expressionists; and the “antique dealer to the stars,” it also involves real estate and big money, and the very real threat of the wrecking ball. Ahead, explore the one-of-a-kind past of these buildings, which most notably served as the home to world-famous artist Willem de Kooning, and learn about the fight to preserve them not only for their architectural merit but unique cultural history.

Get the entire history

Featured Story

East Village, Features, History

How Alphabet City’s ‘milk laboratory’ led to modern pasteurization

By Andrew Berman of Village Preservation, Thu, September 14, 2017

Nathan Straus’ First Milk Depot, opened in the summer of 1893, courtesy of the Augustus C. Long Health Sciences Library, Columbia University

The utilitarian building at 151 Avenue C between 9th and 10th Streets would hardly elicit a second glance from the casual passerby today. But its unassuming looks belie the incredible story of how Gilded Age science and philanthropy converged here to save thousands of children’s lives. In the 1800s, intestinal infections and diseases like tuberculosis caused by bad milk was running rampant in the city’s child population, especially in poor communities like the Lower East Side. To combat the problem, Macy’s co-owner Nathan Straus instituted a program to make pasteurized milk affordable or even free. And on Avenue C, he set up a “milk laboratory” to test the dairy and distribute millions of bottles.

The whole history here

Featured Story

Features, Greenwich Village, History

Dog Day Afternoon

The most notorious bank robbery in New York City history took place on August 22, 1972, during the decidedly dog days of that long hot summer. Immortalized in the film “Dog Day Afternoon,” it was an unlikely anti-hero tale with a backstory that began in Greenwich Village, interwoven with the social and political currents running through the city at the time, most notably the growing LGBT movement that had taken hold after the Stonewall Riots.

Get the whole surprising history this way

Featured Story

Features, Greenwich Village, History

A 15-year-old Greenwich Village student inspired the hit song ‘Summer in the City’

By Andrew Berman of Village Preservation, Thu, August 17, 2017

Image via Wiki Commons

Everyone knows the folk-rock classic “Summer in the City” by the Lovin’ Spoonful, which topped the charts 51 years ago this August in 1966. But fewer know the song’s roots in Greenwich Village–lead singer John Sebastian actually grew up in the neighborhood and the act got their start in the local clubs–and fewer still know a 15-year-old Village student was responsible for a significant part of its composition.

Get the whole story

Featured Story

Features, Greenwich Village, History, Landmarks Preservation Commission

The Village’s Twin Peaks: From a quirky ‘Swiss-chalet’ to a landmarks controversy

By Andrew Berman of Village Preservation, Thu, August 10, 2017

102 Bedford Street in 2015 (left) via Wiki Commons, and as of today, via GVSHP

Few buildings capture the whimsy, flamboyance, and bohemian spirit of early 20th century Greenwich Village as does the building known as “Twin Peaks” at 102 Bedford Street. Described as a “wonderfully ludicrous mock half-timbered fantasy row-house castle” by architecture critic Paul Goldberger, the present incarnation of the building was born in 1925 as a radical remodeling of an 1830 rowhouse into a five-story artists’ studio apartment building. In the mid 20th-century, the building became even more iconic with a cream and brown paint job that mimicked its Alpine cottage inspiration. However, a more recent paint job stripped away this history, resulting in a controversial landmarks battle.

The whole story

Featured Story

Features, Greenwich Village, GVSHP, History, West Village 

‘Heard it through the grapevine?’ The source was probably at 6th Avenue and 11th Street

By Andrew Berman of Village Preservation, Thu, August 3, 2017

6th Avenue and 11th Street, 1905. Image via Ephemeral New York,

On August 6, 1966, the first known recording of “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” was made by the Miracles. Written by Motown pioneers Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, the song was re-recorded several times, most famously by Gladys Night and the Pips and Marvin Gaye, whose version landed on the top of the charts for seven weeks in early 1969.

But the famous saying about receiving important news or information through a person-to-person chain of communication significantly pre-dates the Motown era. In fact, plentiful evidence and credible sources say it all goes back to a beloved tavern on the corner of 6th Avenue and 11th Street in Greenwich Village.

more on the history here

GVSHP, History

How a 15th-century French migration gave us the term ‘Bohemian’

By Andrew Berman of Village Preservation, Thu, July 27, 2017

Greenwich Village Bohemians outside Cafe Wha in the 1960s, via Vintage Everyday

“Bohemian” may be hard to define, but we all know it when we see it. But even in a city like New York, where bohemian can be used to describe everything from a polished West Village cafe to a South Bronx squat, few people know why exactly we today use this term, connected to a medieval Central European kingdom, to describe those with a countercultural bent.

The whole history right this way

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