Non-profit Village Preservation has launched a new online platform called Virtual Village, which is part of their larger efforts seeking landmarks protections for the “South of Union Square” area, where Greenwich Village meets the East Village. The interactive online tool offers 36 free, guided walking tours of the neighborhood, ranging from architectural topics like the Cast Iron Tour to cultural topics like the German History Tour to social topics like the Women’s History and LGBTQ Tours.
“Bar Scene” Village Preservation (GVSHP) Image Archive
Nonprofit advocacy and educational organization Village Preservation is well known for many things, one of which is its historic image archive. Their newest addition is the Jean Polacheck Collection, which dates largely from the 1940s through the mid-1950s, and includes scenes of Washington Square Park, the interior of clubs and restaurants, and other NYC street scenes. Ahead, step back in time with a sneak peek of some of these wonderfully illustrative photos and learn about the woman behind them.
Screenshot of the 19th Amendment Centennial StoryMap, courtesy of Village Preservation
Next week, on August 18th, we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. Though the fight to give women the right to vote was a national effort, much of the movement had roots in New York City. And like most 20th-century advocacy efforts, a lot of that action was centered downtown. To mark this momentous occasion, Village Preservation has created an interactive 19th Amendment Centennial StoryMap that showcases the remarkable number of people and places in Greenwich Village, the East Village, and Noho that played a key role in the women’s suffrage movement.
For many, celebrating Irish American heritage in March brings one to Fifth Avenue for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, or perhaps a visit to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. But for those willing to venture beyond Midtown, there’s a rich Irish American history to be found in Greenwich Village and the East Village. While both neighborhoods became better known for different kinds of communities in later years – Italians, Ukrainians, gay men and lesbians, artists, punks – Irish immigration in the mid-19th century profoundly shaped both neighborhoods. Irish Americans and Irish immigrants played a critical role in building immigrant and artistic traditions in Greenwich Village and the East Village. Here are some sites connected to that great heritage, from the city’s oldest intact Catholic Church to Irish institutions like McSorely’s Old Ale House.
When we think of great African American historic sites in New York, we typically think of Harlem’s Apollo Theater, Lower Manhattan’s African Burial Ground, or Brooklyn’s Weeksville Houses. But one building that should perhaps join the list is 70 Fifth Avenue in Greenwich Village, which housed the headquarters of the NAACP, the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization; The Crisis, the first magazine published for an African American audience; and the first magazine dedicated to African American children, meant to combat the commonplace demeaning stereotypes of the time, headed by none other than civil rights icon W.E.B. DuBois.
This year, the New York Public Library is celebrating its 125th anniversary. With 53 million items and 92 locations across Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island, the NYPL is the largest municipal library in the world. It’s also the steward of some of New York’s greatest landmarks, reflecting a century and a quarter of Gotham’s history, and in some cases even more.
The roots of this library system can be found in Greenwich Village, the East Village, and Noho. The main antecedents of the NYPL which formed the foundation of today’s system— the Astor Library, the Lenox Library, and the New York Free Circulating Library – all began in these neighborhoods just below 14th Street. As a result, this is where New York’s oldest public library buildings and the oldest building housing an NYPL branch are located — the latter ironically having been where great works of literature were banned and censored before it became a library.
Streetview of 14-16 Fifth Avenue, Map data © 2020 Google; Painting of Henry Breevort via public domain, Photo of General Daniel Edgar Sickles courtesy of the Library of Congress, and photo of Celeste Holm via public domain
Madison Realty Capital filed plans last month to demolish 14-16 Fifth Avenue, a five-story apartment building constructed in 1848, and replace it with a 244-foot-tall tower. Because it is located within the Greenwich Village Historic District, it can only be demolished if the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission rules that the building itself is of no historic or architectural merit, and does not contribute to the character of the district (the public hearings where this would be debated and decided have not yet been scheduled). What may seem like a nondescript apartment building actually has an incredibly rich and varied history. Throughout its 170-year history, 14-16 Fifth Avenue was home to Civil War generals, Gold Rush writers, Oscar-winning actors, railroad magnates, pioneering industrialists, inventors, and politicians. What follows is just some of the history behind this easily-overlooked lower Fifth Avenue landmark.
As this year marks 400 years since the first African slaves were brought to America, much attention has been paid to what that means and how to remember this solemn anniversary. The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission issued a story map highlighting landmarks of the abolitionist movement in New York City. Absent from the map were a number of incredibly important sites in Greenwich Village, the East Village, and Noho, which were a hotbed of abolitionist activity through the 19th century, as well as the home of the city’s largest African American community. Ahead, learn about 14 significant sites of the anti-slavery movement.
From top left: Photo of Robert Frost via Wikimedia, Photo of Emily Post via Library of Congress, Photo of Henry Miller via Wikimedia; From bottom left: Photo of James Baldwin by Allan Warren via Wikimedia, Photo of Patricia Highsmith via Wikimedia, and Photo of Margaret Mead via Smithsonian Institution Archives Wikimedia
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the designation of the Greenwich Village Historic District. One of the city’s oldest and largest landmark districts, it’s a treasure trove of history, culture, and architecture. Village Preservation is spending 2019 marking this anniversary with events, lectures, and new interactive online resources. This is part of a series of posts about the Greenwich Village Historic District marking its golden anniversary.
Greenwich Village, specifically the historic district at its core, has been described as many things, but “literary” may be among the most common. That’s not only because the neighborhood has an air of sophistication and drama, but because it has attracted some of the nation’s greatest writers over the last 200 plus years. Ahead, learn about just some of the cornucopia of great wordsmiths who have called the Greenwich Village Historic District home, from Thomas Paine to Lorraine Hansberry.
Photo of Bob Dylan by Chris Hakkens on Wikimedia, Photo of Janis Joplin via Wikimedia, Photo of Buddy Holly via Wikimedia, Photo of Jimi Hendrix via Wikimedia, Photo of Lou Reed by Mick Rock on Wikimedia
For generations, Greenwich Village, and particularly the historic district which lies at its core, has attracted musicians of all stripes. They’ve been inspired by its quaint and charming streets and the lively cultural scene located in and around the neighborhood. It would be a fool’s errand to try to name every great musician who ever laid their head to rest within the Greenwich Village Historic District’s boundaries. But as we round out a year’s worth of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the district’s designation, here are just a few of the greats who at one time or another called it home, from Bob Dylan to John Lennon to Jimi Hendrix to Barbra Streisand.