This year marks the 50th anniversary of the designation of the Greenwich Village Historic District on April 29, 1969. One of the city’s oldest and still largest historic districts, it’s a unique treasure trove of rich history, pioneering culture, and charming architecture. GVSHP will be spending 2019 marking this anniversary with events, lectures, and new interactive online resources, including a celebration and district-wide weekend-long “Open House” starting on Saturday, April 13th in Washington Square. This is part of a series of posts about the unique qualities of the Greenwich Village Historic District marking its golden anniversary.
Few places on earth have attracted as many creative, mold-shattering, transformative women as Greenwich Village, especially the Greenwich Village Historic District which lies in its heart. From its earliest settlers in the 17th century through its bohemian heyday in the late 19th and 20th centuries right up to today, pioneering women have made the Greenwich Village Historic District their home, from congresswoman Bella Abzug and gay rights advocate Edie Windsor to playwright Lorraine Hansberry and photographer Berenice Abbott.
See the entire list
Photographer Berenice Abbott has long captured the imagination of New Yorkers. Her storied career began after fleeing Ohio for Greenwich Village in 1918 and included a stint in Paris taking portraits of 1920s heavyweights. But she is best known for her searing images of New York buildings and street life–her photograph “Nightview, New York,” taken from an upper-floor window of the Empire State Building in 1932, remains one of the most recognized images of the city. Well known is her exchange with a male supervisor, who informed Abbott that “nice girls” don’t go to the Bowery. Her reply: “Buddy, I’m not a nice girl. I’m a photographer… I go anywhere.”
Despite Abbott’s prolific career and fascinating life, there’s never been a biography to capture it all. Until now, with Julia Van Haaften’s work, “Berenice Abbott: A Life in Photography.” Van Haaften is the founding curator of the New York Public Library’s photography collection. She also befriended Abbott, as the photographer approached 90, while curating a retrospective exhibition of her work in the late 1980s. (Abbott passed away in 1991 at the age of 93.)
With 6sqft, Van Haaften shares what it was like translating Abbott’s wide-ranging work and life into a biography, and the help she received from Abbott herself. From her favorite stories to her favorite photographs, Van Haaften shows why Abbott’s work has remained such a powerful lens capturing New York City to this day.
Ormond Gigli (1925- ) Girls in the Windows, New York City. Image courtesy of Swann Galleries
An auction to be held at Swann Auction Galleries in Manhattan on February 14th will feature historic photos that capture the essence of New York City through the ages. The event, titled “Icons & Images: Photographs & Photobooks,” will put up for bid everything from classics from 19th century portraiture to Edgar Allan Poe tintypes to Nan Goldin’s evocative images of 1990s NYC. This will also be a rare opportunity to own a contemporaneous print of Lewis W. Hine’s dramatic “Empire State Building,” (c. 1930).
Preview the prints up for auction