Honoring and Preserving 101 Avenue A, Home of the Pyramid Club

On October 30, 2007, GVSHP submitted a request to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission that they consider 101 Avenue A (6th/7th Streets) in the East Village as an individual New York City landmark. The request attracted quite a bit of attention, and was soon referred to as a push to make the building New York City’s first “drag landmark.”

Hyperbole aside, the building had many unique and compelling layers which strongly appealed to us.  Built in 1876, 101 Avenue A was designed by German-born William Jose, a prolific and unsung tenement house architect whose work had a great visual impact upon the immigrant neighborhoods of Lower Manhattan.  Jose pulled out all the stops for this “tenement” design, which features lyrical and elaborate ironwork, florid incised neo-Grec detailing on its lintels and a vibrant interplay of colors and materials on its facade.  Aesthetics aside, the nearly century and a half old building almost continuously housed a social gathering space in its ground floor — first a social and labor union hall, which was a center for the local German-American community, and later as a seminal performance space for the likes of Rupaul, Madonna and Nirvana, as well as a burgeoning politically-conscious drag performance art scene that emerged from the East Village in the 1980s.  Oh, and Nico of Velvet Undergorund fame lived here during her tenure with the band.

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The East Village’s Club 57 Gets A Show at MoMa

Who would have thought that the basement of a Catholic church would serve as a crucible of creativity in the East Village in the early Reagan era?  One did, however, and it is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at the Museum of Modern art called “Club 57: Film, Performance, and Art in the East Village, 1978–1983“.

57 St. Mark’s Place, between 1st and 2nd Avenues

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How Edith Wharton and Henry James Struck Up A Friendship Around Washington Square

Henry James & Edith Wharton. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

On October 26, 1900, two great writers with ties to the Village began a correspondence that would spark a lifelong friendship… Read the rest of this entry »

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Fingers Crossed for Another: Individual Landmark Designations We’ve Won

We had a promising hearing last Tuesday at the Landmarks Preservation Commission on our proposed landmark designation of 827-831 Broadway, with a vote planned for this coming Tuesday, October 31st. We’re hoping for an outcome that will be more treat than trick (if you want to do more than hope, send a letter here); for good luck, we thought we’d take a look at some of the other individual landmarking efforts we’ve gotten behind over the years which have turned out well, much as we hope 827-831 Broadway will as well.

57 Sullivan Street, GVSHP’s most recent successful proposed individual landmark. Photo courtesy of Tom Miller

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On West 13th Street, A Journal Founded By Transcendentalists, That Hit “Like An Atom Bomb”

152 West 13th Street. Photo by Nick Birns

Not many people remember it today, but The Dial, one of the most influential literary magazines of its time, was housed at 152 West 13th Street, and published some of the most groundbreaking work of the 20th century, including T.S. Elliot’s The Waste Land.  The building, built in 1846, became home to The Dial in 1919. Despite the magazine’s tumultuous life of multiple incarnations, the dreams of its founder Ralph Waldo Emerson that the magazine would change the landscape of thought and literature did in many ways come true.

Emerson and his cadre of Transcendentalists founded The Dial 1840. It was hailed by the New-York Weekly Tribune as the “most original and thoughtful periodical ever published in this country.” The magazine failed financially and ceased publication in 1844. It was resuscitated for one year in 1860, then again in 1888 in Chicago, where it also failed. The magazine was then brought back to New York in 1919 when Scofield Thayer and Dr. James Sibley Watson. Jr. re-established it as a literary magazine, publishing influential artwork, poetry, and fiction, including T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land in its November 1922 issue.

The Dial was mentioned in GVSHP’s Designation Report  for the South Village to the Landmarks Preservation Council:

After World War I, Greenwich Village attracted a group of professional writers, many well-educated, although disenchanted and frustrated with American society and looking for a place that was different physically and intellectually. As opposed to the optimism of the earlier Village radicals, these people took pacifistic positions because of their experiences in war and they were generally opposed to all authority, rather than supporting a particular school of thought. Professional writers, their books, poems, and magazine articles in journals such as Vanity Fair, The New Republic, and The Dial

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Stories from GVSHP’s Historic Image Archive- “Is That My Mother?”

Since its online release in August, 2017, GVSHP’s Historic Image Archive has been the source of several amazing stories. The recently released Carole Teller’s Changing New York Collection particularly so, perhaps because these images from the 1960s to 1990s cover relatively recent history, and thus many people connected to people and places in the images are still around.  For instance, a man emailed us that this picture is the only existing photo of his grandfather.  There is also the sad story of Lincoln Swados, brother of the late Elizabeth Swados.

Now here comes another amazing story connected to an image in our archive that recently came our way. And like many of the others, it involves family, struggle, and a very different time in New York City’s history

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This Day in Preservation History: Home of Alexander Hamilton (Jr.) is Landmarked

The Federal-style rowhouse at 4 St. Mark’s Place, also known as the Hamilton-Holly house and the former home of  Trash and Vaudeville, was designated an individual New

Hamilton-Holley House in the 1930’s. Image via NYC Department of Taxes

York City landmark on October 19, 2004.  Landmark designation of the house was part of a proposal by GVSHP and the NY Landmarks Conservancy to seek landmark designation of thirteen (like the thirteen colonies) federal houses in Lower Manhattan in 2002 (nine were individually landmarked and one was included in a historic district). 

 

GVSHP has succeeded in helping to secure landmark designation and/or National Register of Historic Places listing for one hundred thirty six Federal houses in the last twenty years.  But whether it’s because of its “trashy” recent history or its more genteel origins, 4 St. Mark’s Place stands out among them, and retains a special place in our hearts.

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The High Line is Dismantled and the West Side is Transformed

There’s no overstating it – we at GVSHP love our members and friends sharing old mementos and images of our neighborhood. Personal or family pictures taken of one’s surroundings or familiar spots often now become, years later, important historical documents.

1962, Washington and Perry Streets. Nick Fritsch (aged 7) and his older sister Erica, in the foreground in front of cut pieces of the High Line trestle in the process of being dismantled. Their home at 141 Perry street is the small reddish without fire escapes building visible behind the trestle.

Case in point:  we’ve just added to our ever-growing Historic Image Archive a mini-collection of photographs taken by longtime resident and tireless defender of the West Village Peter H. Fritsch, donated by his son, Nick Fritsch.   These images (above and below) of Nick, his sister, and their Perry Street home’s surroundings show the High Line, which once ran from 34th Street all the way to Spring Street, in the process of being dismantled and demolished in the West Village.

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A Tale of Two 50’s!

Tony Rosenthal’s Alamo Sculpture on Astor Place.

Fifty years ago today, the musical Hair premiered at The Public Theater.  The first rock musical, it would go on to become a pacifist symbol throughout the world and bring groundbreaking innovations to the American musical theater genre.  As we remember this 50th Anniversary, we are preparing to celebrate another 50th that’s right up the street from The Public — the unveiling of  Tony Rosenthal’s Alamo Sculpture on Astor Place, more commonly known as the Astor Place Cube. Read the rest of this entry »

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Happy Birthday, Eugene O’Neill

Eugene O’Neill with two of his children

On this day in 1888, Eugene Gladstone O’Neill was born, and the course of American theater would change forever. O’Neill became the first American dramatist to regard the stage as a literary medium and he remains the only U.S. playwright to capture the Nobel Prize for Literature. Read the rest of this entry »

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