Beyond the Village and Back: Cooper Hewitt Museum, Former Andrew Carnegie Mansion

In our series Beyond the Village and Back, we take a look at some great landmarks throughout New York City outside of the Village, the East Village, and NoHo, celebrate their special histories, and reveal their (sometimes hidden) connections to the Village.

The Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum at 2 East 91st Street is a renowned museum and institution, the only of its kind in the United States, born of a long history and connection between philanthropy and industry. The landmarked building is an exemplary bit of ornate, turn-of-the-20th-century architecture, and today we explore its history and ties to the Village in our latest Beyond the Village and Back.

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A Cast Iron Gem That’s Worn Many Different Hats

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Many Layers of History at 7th Street and 2nd Avenue

East Village Gas Explosion Site, 2nd Ave. & 7th St.

As we enter July, it’s not hard to notice that some of the dates align with some neighborhood intersections.  In honor of today’s date, we are taking a look at some of the buildings and history around the intersection of 7th Street and 2nd Avenue . Read the rest of this entry »

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They Dwelt 0n West 9th Street: S.J. Perelman

64 West 9th Street. The former home of S. J. Perelman

They Lived on West 9th Street: S. J. Perelman is the 3rd in a series.

Al Hirschfeld and S.J. Perelman were good friends and collaborators

Born in Brooklyn in 1904, S.J. Perelman grew up in Providence RI, the son of a dry goods store owner. Perelman entered Brown University in 1921 but dropped out in order to pursue his dreams in New York City. He ended up in Greenwich Village in 1929, where he took up residence at 64 West 9th Street, above what was Hudson Hand Laundry. Read the rest of this entry »

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WWI and the Village

Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

On June 28, 1914, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, an event that led to the start of World War I.  While the Archduke himself bears few of any ties to the Village, WWI had a significant impact on the social and cultural life of the neighborhood and beyond.  The atrocities of WWI marked an end to the restrictive and repressive culture of the Victorian Era; in the Village, a place that had always been known for its countercultural attitude and vie bohème, the war further transformed the neighborhood, aligning the political values of the residents even further towards the left and instilling a greater sense of social rebellion.  Below, are some examples of events and phenomena that responded to and resulted from the advent of the First World War. Read the rest of this entry »

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Helen Keller’s Village Activist Life and Legacy

Helen Keller’s connections to New York City and Greenwich Village are numerous but perhaps less well known, as they are largely rooted in her work not as an advocate for the disabled, but in her sometimes controversial work as a suffragette, birth control advocate, antimilitarist, socialist, and an early founder of the American Civil Liberties Union along with Villager Arthur Hays (who lived at 24 East 10th Street). Keller knew and worked with great minds and leaders also associated with the Village, from W.E.B. Du Bois to the Astors to Emma Goldman and Eleanor Roosevelt. Her connections to the Village activism show a wild, dynamic life, and her writings show a love for New York which will engage every sense you’ve got.

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United States v. Windsor

On June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court in a 5 to 4 decision (United States v. Windsor), declared unconstitutional part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which defined marriage solely as a legal union between a man and a woman. This landmark case had its roots here in the Village with the 1963 meeting of Edith S. Windsor and Thea Clara Spyer at the Portofino Restaurant on Thompson Street, as shown on the GVSHP Civil Rights and Social Justice map.

Thea Clara Spyer and Edith S. Windsor.

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Part 2- REBNY Report Falsely Blames Landmarking for Empty Storefront Syndrome

Recently, I responded to a portion of a recent “report” by the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) that (incredibly, but predictably for REBNY) blamed the retail vacancy crisis impacting our city on landmarking and historic districts. In that case, they misrepresented and inflated the number of days until storefront permit is issued by the Landmarks Preservation Commission by 40-60%. Today I will look at another REBNY misrepresentation regarding population levels. Read the rest of this entry »

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Historic Photo Mystery Solved!

As we add images to our Historic Image Archive, we try to provide as much identifying information as possible on each one.  Sometimes the images come to us with the exact location of the image, date, etc.  Sometimes they come with no information whatsoever, and we have to comb our files, mental and otherwise, to try to locate and date them. Sometimes we figure it out all on our own; sometimes we do it with a little help from our friends.

But the image below, despite having some recognizable signage, has gone unidentified and plagued us for some time.  Until now.

Do you know who these men are? We assume they are debating whether denim or corduroy is the superior fabric.

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Greenwich Village at the White House

‘Christopher Street’, 1934 by Beulah Bettersworth.

This picturesque wintry scene of Christopher Street was painted by Greenwich Village resident and artist Beulah Bettersworth in 1934. Looking west from Hudson Street along Christopher, it shows the Ninth Avenue El Christopher Street Station and St. Veronica’s Church beyond. Currently, this painting is part of the permanent collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.  But it used to have a home in the White House. Here’s the story of how Christopher Street and Greenwich Village made it into the nation’s First Home.

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