Happy Birthday, Madonna!

Madonna Louise Ciccione, known simply as Madonna, was born on this day in 1958 in Bay City, Michigan. The singer, songwriter, record producer, actress, film director, author and businesswoman has won more awards and earned more accolades than could possibly be listed here over the course of her thirty five-plus year career. And although she now makes her home on the Upper East Side, when her career was just beginning its meteoric rise, she called a tenement in much more humble surroundings on East 4th Street near Avenue B her home.

Madonna in the East Village, 1983. Copyright Richard Corman

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Happy Birthday, Linda Ellerbee!

Photo courtesy of http://waytofamous.com.

Today we celebrate the birthday of journalist and Village resident Linda Ellerbee. Read the rest of this entry »

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Clifford Odets and The Group Theatre


Clifford Odets

Clifford Odets, one of America’s greatest playwrights, passed away on this day in 1963 at the age of 57. Odets grew up in the Bronx but migrated downtown as soon as he could in order to be around the artists, musicians, actors and writers who inhabited the Village. He began his career as an actor at 19 and indeed spent much of his fruitful career in the Village. Read the rest of this entry »

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Happy Birthday, Alex Haley!

Alex Haley. Source: Courtesy of Bill Haley https://www.pri.org/programs/studio-360/american-icons-autobiography-malcolm-x

Pulitzer-prize winning American author Alex Haley was born this day, on August 11, 1921.

GVSHP’s Civil Rights & Social Justice Map highlights over a hundred sites in our neighborhood associated with civil rights and social justice, including more than twenty sites connected to African-American history and civil rights; click here to see them all.

One such little-known but incredibly important site is 92 Grove Street, where Alex Haley had a writing studio during the 1960’s.  Probably best known for his books Roots: The Saga of an American Family and The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Haley rented a studio in the back of 92 Grove Street.  It was here that he conducted dozens of interviews with Malcolm X which were the foundation of that groundbreaking autobiography — Haley’s first book, and an enormous part of the legacy and perception of Malcolm X, more than a half century after his death (Malcolm X was assassinated fifty years ago at the Audubon Ballroom in Upper Manhattan).

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Ladies Like Beer Too

This is an updated re-posting of a piece written by former GVSHP staffer Dana Schultz.

Walk into McSorley’s Old Ale House today and you will see an equal mix of the genders enjoying a beer. It’s hard to imagine that for 116 years this would not have been the case, as women were not allowed into the establishment. The philosophy was, “Good Ale, Raw Onions, and No Ladies.” In 1939, owner Daniel O’Connell died, leaving the business to his daughter Dorothy O’Connell Kirwan. According to the website McSorley’s New York, “Patrons feared she would renovate and innovate. She did neither, staying out of the place as she promised her father she would. After some minor management problems, she made her husband Harry Kirwan the manager. She only visited on Sundays after they were closed.”

Two female protestors from the National Organization for Women stood outside McSorley’s in protest in 1970. (Image courtesy of EV Grieve, via JP Laffont/Sygma/CORBIS)

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Business of the Month – Flower Power Herbs & Roots, 406 East 9th Street

Your input is needed! Today we feature our latest Business of the Month — help us to select the next. Tell us which independent store you love in Greenwich Village, the East Village or NoHo:  click here to nominate your favorite.  Want to help support small businesses?  Share this post with friends.

In the big bustling city far from the wild meadows of the countryside or the ferns of the forest, there is a place where medicine based upon ancient plant knowledge is available, and out of a cute storefront to boot.  For that and organically cultivated herbs, roots, flowers and seeds, loose and in bulk, one need look no further than Flower Power at 406 East 9th Street, between 1st Avenue and Avenue A, our August Business of the Month.

Proprietor Lata Chettri-Kennedy behind the counter.

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What’s in Webster Hall’s Past – and Future?

August 8th, 2007 was a joyous day in the GVSHP office – because that’s when we first received written notice from the LPC than they planned to consider Webster Hall for landmark designation. GVSHP had worked hard to achieve this milestone, providing the LPC with a dossier of research on the historic hall and its cultural significance. The hard work paid off – by March of the following year, Webster Hall had joined the ranks of New York City landmarks. The building, erected in 1886 on land that was once a part of Peter Stuyvesant’s farm, is notable not only for it’s handsome Queen Anne and Renaissance Revival architecture, but also its remarkable legacy as a public gathering space. In the 19th century, the streets around Union Square were filled with similar grand assembly halls, but Webster Hall is special for being one of the few survivors. GVSHP has written extensively about the history of Webster Hall for this blog. In a great post from 2011, former staff member Drew Durniak writes:

From the start, Webster Hall was a “hall for hire” where groups could rent either certain rooms in the building or the entire space for whatever functions they chose. In 1886, the New York Times noted that the hall was “intended for balls, receptions, Hebrew weddings, and sociables.” By the turn of the twentieth century, the area near and south of Union Square was packed with large and small structures housing theaters, dance halls, and other forms of entertainment, but today very few of these buildings remain intact or are not used for their original purpose.

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Walk & Draw: MacDougal-Sullivan Gardens

On Saturday, GVSHP held a second Walk & Draw event, this time to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the MacDougal-Sullivan Gardens historic districtRead the rest of this entry »

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Roundup of posts on immigration and the Village

The Statue of Liberty, an enduring symbol of the hope America provides for its immigrants. The base is inscribed with a passage from the poem The New Colossas by Emma Lazarus, who was also a Villager. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” Photo courtesy of avvo.com.

Immigration is a core theme in the history of New York City, and in the Village this is reflected in both the architecture and remaining and past cultural enclaves.  People from all over the world come to our neighborhoods, adding to the vibrancy and life within them.  We here at GVSHP are proud of and celebrate the Village’s history of immigration and the legacy it has left behind.  Below is a roundup of some of our stories about immigration, historic cultural communities, and the changing faces of a neighborhood made richer by its openness to new peoples and ideas.  Read the rest of this entry »

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The Glittering and Gritty History of 24 Bond

If you happen to look up while strolling down Bond or Lafayette Streets, you might come upon a curious sight – dozens of small, golden statues dancing along the wrought iron and brick of a traditional NoHo facade. Celebratory and airy, they’re a delightful addition to the heavy, industrial look of the rest of the area. Who do we have to thank for this artistic juxtaposition? Artist and 24 Bond resident Bruce Williams.

Williams and his wife have lived in the building for over twenty years, and he first began adorning his building’s facade in 1998. At the time, the NoHo neighborhood was much more off the beaten path than now, a small enclave for artists working in a variety of mediums. Since then, the neighborhood has gained quite a bit more distinction, glamour, and recognition. In 2008, 24 Bond Street was included in the NoHo Historic District Extension, officially recognizing the architectural significance of this 19th-century building. To celebrate, Williams added additional golden sculptures climbing up the side of his now-landmarked building. He did this, as he had always done, without asking for approval, but the new landmark status of his building required that he confer with the LPC. Despite a small ado requiring an official hearing on the outdoor art, the spritely statues were permitted to stay.

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