Why Does This East Village Building Have a Statue of Vladimir Lenin on Top?

January 15, 2016

In 1989, the same year as the fall of the Soviet Union, Red Square was erected as one of the first large-scale private developments in the East Village. Today, it blends in with the other big-box apartment buildings that dot this stretch of Houston Street. That is, until you look up and see the statue of Russian dictator Vladimir Lenin.

The 18-foot bronze statue by Yuri Gerasimov was actually commissioned by the Soviet Union in the early ’80s as a tribute to their leader’s supposed commitment to the working class. When the USSR fell, however, it was never unveiled. But in 1994, when Red Square developers Michael Rosen (a former NYU professor of radical sociology) and Michael Shaoul came across the Lenin statue in a Moscow backyard, it made its way up to the top of their building.

Red Square, 250 East Houston Street, NYC Lenin Statue, East Village history

The building’s name was chosen for practical reasons (it’s square and made of red brick) and as a representation of the fall of communism. Lenin’s position facing south is intentional; Rosen wanted to make a nod to Wall Street’s capitalism, as well as the Lower East Side’s relation to the socialist movement.

The other interesting thing atop Red Square’s roof is the clock. The developers put it there to cover the water tower and elevator shaft, but they based it off MoMA’s “Askew” watch that features a random sequence of numbers. This version was created by Hungarian graphic designer Tibor Kalman. ”It fit the building’s image as being a little off-center,” Shaoul told the Times.

Lead image (L) via Lucia M/Panoramio


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