Photo by Beyond My Ken / Wiki Commons
The area south of Union Square, on the border between Greenwich Village and the East Village, is changing. The approval of the new 14th Street Tech Hub south of Union Square combined with an explosion of tech-related development in the area has resulted in the demolition of mid-19th-century hotels and Beaux-Arts style tenements, with new office towers like 809 Broadway taking their place.
Aside from being rich in 19th- and early-20th-century architecture, this area is overflowing with history connected to many of the great American artists, writers, musicians, publishers, activists, innovators and artisans of the last century and a half. As part of Village Preservation’s work to document and bring to light some of that often forgotten history, we wrote this piece last year exploring the connections to Mark Twain and Walt Whitman, Alexander Graham Bell and Leroi Jones (among many others). Now, we’ve uncovered even more history-making people and events connected to this area and its buildings, from Hammacher Schlemmer (NYC’s first hardware store) to a slew of influential publishing houses (including that which published the first U.S. edition of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”) to the Women’s Suffrage League headquarters.
After 25 years as the home of The Phillip and Edith Leonian Foundation, this 3,200 square-foot duplex condo asking $3.75 million is still a classic Village live/work loft. The late, famed photographer Phillip Leonian is known for his iconic portrait of Muhammad Ali in a crown and red velvet robe; the foundation has funded photographic education and documentary photography across the United States. The American Felt Building at 114 East 13th Street was once home to the suppliers of the hammer and bushing felt for the Steinway piano company; it was among the area’s first to be re-purposed for loft living, loved for the high ceilings and massive windows that made former industrial spaces so popular.
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The East Village loft owned by novelist and literary bad boy Bret Easton Ellis is available for rent for $5,900 per month. Ellis has been renting out the studio apartment since he decamped for Los Angeles a decade ago; he told the Observer he’s been holding on to the 950-square-foot, second-floor condo in the American Felt Building at 114 East 13th Street as a back-up plan, “if Los Angeles just doesn’t work out.” The “American Psycho” scribe says he spent the late ’80s living in the lofty studio–in his early 20s at the time–writing the iconic 1991 novel of late 20th century privilege, materialism and delusion and throwing massive Holly Golightly-esque bashes packed with his contemporaries back in the day in an East Village very different from today’s.
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