Immigrant Heritage Week

Recreating the Italian Immigrant neighborhood of 1917 for The Godfather Part II, filmed in 1970

Immigrant Heritage Week is held by NYC each year to honor our collective immigrant heritage. Here at GVSHP, we held a walking tour on Tuesday, April 17th to honor that history. On April 17th, 1909, 11,747 immigrants entered the U.S. through Ellis Island, more than any other day in history. If you missed the tour, a self-guided version can be accessed through the Urban Archive App.
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Marlis Momber, an East Village Icon

NYC has designated the week of April 17 as Immigrant Heritage Week, because on April 17, 1907, more immigrants entered the U.S. through Ellis Island than any other day in history. April 19th happens to be the birthday of one of our neighborhood’s many incredible immigrants, noted East Village photographer Marlis Momber.  In 2015, GVSHP conducted an oral history with Marlis Momber, which you can check out here.

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An Unusual Resident for An Unusual House: Richard Harding Davis and 108 Waverly Place

Richard Harding Davis. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

In the course of our research about buildings and events in our neighborhood, we often come upon some unusual characters and stories.  One which certainly qualifies is Richard Harding Davis, an American journalist and writer of fiction and drama born on April 18th, 1864, andthe house he lived in, 108 Waverly Place (between Washington Square and Sixth Avenue), which was a boarding house in the 1890’s when he was a resident.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Immigrant Heritage Day – Taking a Walk to the Immigrant East Village

Immigration history in New York City is long, storied and full of notable events and movements which are personal and political. The City of New York is the ultimate city of immigrants and migrants. On April 17, 1907, more immigrants entered the U.S. through Ellis Island than any other day in history – it took 11,747 people to set the record. This date has been named Immigrant Heritage Day, which kicks off Immigrant Heritage Week. Today, we join the rest of New York in celebrating our collective immigrant heritage. According to NYC.gov, Immigrant Heritage Week’s theme this year is A City of Immigrants: United in Action.

Ellis Island in the 1900s was a very busy place. April 17th set the record.

GVSHP is no stranger to research, oral histories, and community programming that highlights immigration. This past summer, my colleague even created an exhaustive and marvelous roundup of GVSHP Blog posts about Immigration and the Village. This year, to celebrate Immigrant Heritage Day, GVSHP will unite in action with our friends at the Urban Archive, and our program participants, to experience some of the East Village’s immigrant history. The walking tour features ten locations and small businesses in the East Village that hold immigrant history. Read on for a sneak peek of some of the spots we’ll be visiting. And, check the Urban Archive app starting tomorrow to take the Immigrant Heritage walk yourself!

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GVSHP Oral History: Merce Cunningham

GVSHP shares our oral history collection with the public, highlighting some of the people and stories that make Greenwich Village and the East Village such unique and vibrant neighborhoods. Each of these histories includes the experiences and insights of long-time residents, usually active in the arts, culture, preservation, business, or civic life.

Merce Cunningham (1919 -2009) was one of the most important choreographers of our time as well as one of the greatest dancers and founder of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company (MCDC). Born Mercier Phillip Cunningham on April 16, 1919, in Centralia, Washington, his unrelenting pursuit of innovation for dance led to collaborations with other forms of art, which became a defining trademark of the MCDC. MCDC was located at Westbeth from 1971 until 2012 when the dance company dissolved.  In his oral history with GVSHP, Merce provides an insightful account of his experience at Westbeth. (click HERE for the full interview).

Merce Cunningham with Carolyn Brown at Westbeth, 1972. Photo by Wendy Perron. Source unknown.

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A Look Back at the Latino Lower East Side and East Village

Within our Historic Image Archive of over a thousand images of our neighborhoods and other parts of New York City, a few mysteries lurk in terms of where exactly a picture was taken.  A few weeks ago one such mystery was solved when the location of the 1970s photo of a piragua vendor from our archives below was identified as the northeast corner of 4th Street & Avenue B.

We were particularly grateful for this tip because it allows us to more fully paint the picture within our image archive of the vibrant Latinx heritage and presence in the East Village and on the Lower East Side.  The examples abound.
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Many layers of history at the corner of 4th and 12th

The 12th of April isn’t a particularly special day of the year, but the spots around 4th Ave. and 12th St. are some special locations themselves.  In honor of today’s date, we are taking a look at some of the buildings and history on and around this intersection. Read the rest of this entry »

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Business of the Month: Hudson River Flowers, 541 Hudson 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.

Manager Nicole Absher and proprietor Michael Burst.

Spring is here, and that means flowers!  A veritable botanical garden embraces you upon walking into one particularly quaint storefront on Hudson Street in the West Village.  At Hudson River Flowers between Charles and Perry Streets, the fresh scent of a multitude of blossoming flowers enlivens your soul, even in the dead of winter; one of many reasons they are our April Business of the Month.

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They Lived on West 9th Street: Ida Tarbell

Ida Tarbell was a trailblazing writer and investigative journalist –  although she famously did not like the term “muckraker” — who is best known for exposing the corrupt business practices of John D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil.

Ida Tarbell

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Valerie Solanas: Questions, Context, and a Messy Legacy in the Village

Valerie Solanas (April 9, 1936 – April 25, 1988) is nothing if not divisive. She was a mysterious Villager known for being a radical lesbian feminist separatist, for writing the wild, controversial SCUM Manifesto, for shooting Andy Warhol and two others at Warhol’s Factory in Union Square and defending herself at her trial. It’s clear that what is known about Solanas is generally anecdotal, possibly mythology, and often unconfirmed – emblematic of a life lived outside of the bounds of society, which Solanas did by a combination of choice and necessity. There are more questions than answers about Solanas, but looking at her in context and in light of the many readings and retellings of her work over the past decades can give depth to a messy story about a messy woman.


Valerie Solanas leaving the police station after shooting Andy Warhol

I’m thinking about Valerie Solanas and her ever-changing legacy. Did she intend “SCUM” to stand for “Society for Cutting Up Men?” Did she shoot Andy Warhol because he snubbed the play she wrote which he refused to produce, or as a valiant metaphorical act against the patriarchal art apparatus of her time? Did her gun really jam because she’d wrapped her bullets in aluminum foil, thinking that only silver bullets could kill the vampire, Andy Warhol? How influenced was she by the social and political unrest and militant movements around her in the Village and beyond, as she lived, worked, and waged battles in the Village? Was Valerie Solanas off her rocker? Maybe. Was she a prescient and trailblazing figure of radical feminism? Probably. Was she a renegade? A Villager, as only Villagers can be? Definitely. Let’s explore.

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