The Who, live at the Fillmore East

On April 6th, 1968, The Who rocked the Fillmore East as part of a two-night residency.  On April 20th, they will release a double CD and triple LP of that seminal two-night stint, in honor of its fiftieth anniversary.  The Who have played around the world for decades, but among their many performances they chose to commemorate and release this one, a further testament to the importance of the Fillmore East as a premiere performance venue of its era, and its central role in music history.

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From Condemned Land to National Monument: Christopher Park

Christopher Park sign. Photo courtesy of the Christopher Park Alliance.

Christopher Park has come a long way; beginning its life as a condemned parcel of land on April 5, 1837, the park was born, transformed, and eventually born again as a National Monument.  The park is public space, historic space, and adored by Village residents and visitors alike.  In many ways, Christopher Park reflects everything we love about the Village: it’s open, inviting, historic, political, and pretty. Read the rest of this entry »

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Beyond The Village and Back: the Statue of Liberty and “The New Colossus”

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.

On an average day in New York City, you might catch sight of the Statue of Liberty on the subway, meandering down the High Line, or maybe if you are somewhere along the Lower Manhattan or Brooklyn waterfront. Standing resolutely in New York Harbor, the neoclassical colossus herself, whose full name is “Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World,” was unveiled and dedicated in New York Harbor on October 28, 1886.

Rendering of the opening day fireworks for the statue, courtesy of the NY Parks Service

The Statue of Liberty graces the one-dollar coin, stamps, and logos, and, of course, her destruction is depicted in countless disaster-apocalypse movies. She has been the subject of literature from O. Henry’s “The Lady Higher Up” to Kafka’s “Amerika.”  But in some ways, the most enduring element of her identity was forged in Greenwich Village.

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Mountaintop

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “I have been to the mountaintop”

On April 3rd, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered what would become both his last and one of his most powerful speeches, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.” In it, he called for unity and non-violent protests while challenging the United States to live up to its promise and ideas, saying he could see the day when justice would prevail, but that we were not there yet, saying most famously and fortuitously “I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.”

A half-century later, that struggle continues.  In honor of Dr. King, one of the greatest civil rights leaders of all time, we thought it fitting to take a look at some of the other great moments and sites in the ongoing struggle for African-American civil rights history found in our neighborhoods. Read the rest of this entry »

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Victoria Woodhull, the Original ‘Nasty Woman’

Victoria Woodhull is perhaps best known (if she is known at all) as the first woman to run for President of the United States, a campaign she first publicly announced on April 2, 1870 with a letter to the New York Herald.  In fact, she was so much more.  This one-time resident of what we now call NoHo didn’t just challenge Victorian Era mores and convention; she threw them on the ground and stomped all over them.  Aside from her historic run for the presidency in the election of 1872, she was a two-time divorcee, founded the first female-operated stock brokerage firm, was a champion of ‘free love,’ and was arrested on charges of obscenity.  While she only lived in New York City for a relatively short period of time, between 1868 and 1877, this was where some of her most radical acts took place.  We’re proud to call her one of our own.

Victoria Woodhull by Matthew Brady, 1870

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Celebrating the 15th Amendment on Bleecker Street

On March 30, 1870, the Fifteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was certified as duly ratified, prohibiting the denial of citizens the right to vote based on “race, color, or previous condition of servitude” by state or federal government.  This was of course meant to ensure that African-American men could vote, though that right was frequently and in some parts of the country uniformly abridged for much of the century which followed. The 15th amendment was the last of what are known as the Reconstruction Amendments following the Civil War;  the 13th amendment abolished slavery, and the 14th amendment guaranteed, among other things, citizenship for African-Americans.

AME Zion Church at Bleecker and West 10th Street. Photo credit: NYPL

In spite of the rocky road the 15th amendment took to fulfillment of its promise to guarantee the right to vote, it was widely hailed by African-Americans and their supporters as a great leap forward in the quest for equality under the law.  And the Zion African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church, at the corner of Bleecker and West 10th Street (seen on the GVSHP Civil Rights and Social Justice Map), was at the center of the celebration of the passage of the 15th amendment among New York City’s African-American Community.

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Watching GVSHP, and Village Preservation Efforts, Grow

(l. to r.) Longtime Greenwich Village Assemblymember William Passanante, Greenwich Village Trust President Jack Messerole, and GVSHP’s first Executive Director, Regina Kellerman.

We recently added copies of GVSHP’s newsletter The Anthemion dating back to the organization’s founding in the early 1980s to our website, which you can view here.  There is so much rich history about the work of our organization and ever-changing preservation and development issues over the years contained within them; in fact, as you see the organization growing, you also see some pretty meaningful progress being made on preservation issues, some of which we take for granted today and probably can’t imagine living without.

To illustrate, this Throwback Thursday we’re zooming in on our Spring, 1982 issue, where you might notice right away that the name of GVSHP was then  The Greenwich Village Trust for Historic Preservation.  Of course, that’s not the only thing that’s changed since then.

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Gerde’s Folk City: The End of a Greenwich Village Icon

Image courtesy of http://folkcityatfifty.blogspot.com.

Gerde’s Folk City was a Greenwich Village music venue central to the folk and rock scenes in this neighborhood for a quarter century.  Though always moving locations, the club finally came to an end on March 27, 1987 after an iconic 25-year run.  Today we take a look back at the history of this once hopping Village institution. Read the rest of this entry »

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History Lost to NYU

We all know that New York University has an enormous presence in Greenwich Village and the East Village — one that has grown tremendously in recent decades, and is continuing to grow with the construction of their “NYU 2031” expanded campus on the Washington Square Village and Silver Towers superblocks south of Washington Square.

GVSHP’s 2011 Halloween Contest Entry. We didn’t win.

The university’s growth has taken many forms — the gigantic Third Avenue North and Alumni Hall dorms on Third Avenue at 11th and 9th Streets were built on what were parking lots; Washington Square Village was built for a developer who defaulted on a project then taken over by NYU; and the university has occupied and reused countless loft buildings in the blocks east of Washington Square built decades earlier for different purposes, such as the former Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Building, now known as the NYU Brown Building.

But there’s no denying that NYU has also destroyed a lot of incredible and beloved historic buildings and institutions along the way. Today we thought we’d catalog just a few.

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Tennessee Williams: A Restless Fugitive

Born Thomas Lanier Williams, III, on March 26th, 1911, playwright Tennessee Williams was as much a New Yorker as anyone, really. While his place of birth was really Columbus, Mississippi, he was an itinerant traveler of the world, but spent much of his professional career in New York City, primarily in Greenwich Village. Much like his follow artists in the Village, Williams took inspiration from his surroundings, which colored and informed his writing.  A Streetcar Named Desire, for example, is set in the French Quarter of his adopted home of New Orleans, an historic neighborhood and cultural haven much like the Village.

Tennessee Williams self-portrait from the collection at The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin.  Painting was a favorite hobby of Williams.

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