Write Here: Women Poets of the Village — Lola Ridge and Sonia Sanchez

On March 26th, 2018, GVSHP and friends will gather around the Cherry Lane Theater stage by candlelight to celebrate the trailblazing women poets of the Village. Each poet merits an entire book (at least) in celebration of her life, work, and legacy.  But today we’ll focus on just two of them: Lola Ridge and Sonia Sanchez.

The Ghetto and Other Poems by Lola Ridge (published 1918) and Homegirls and Handgrenades by Sonia Sanchez (published 1984). Credit (both): Amazon.

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Anthony Congo, Freed Slave and Early Lower Manhattan Landowner

On March 26, 1647, Anthony (also referred to as Antony) Congo, a newly manumitted slave of the Dutch West India Company, was granted six acres of land by the Council of New Amsterdam just east of the Bowery. His was one of more than thirty land grants to freed slaves by the Dutch New Amsterdam government which, according to historian Christopher Moore, was the first legally emancipated community of people of African descent in North America.  These grants were located throughout Lower Manhattan, comprising much of present-day Greenwich Village, the South Village, the Lower East Side and East Village.  And this historic settlement, sometimes referred to as “The Land of the Blacks,” is a critical but oft-forgotten chapter in New York’s history, as well as a key featured element on GVSHP’s Civil Rights and Social Justice Map.

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Snow and the City

Washington Square Arch in a snowstorm.

Only three months into the year and we have already experienced four Nor’easters here in NYC! Though a definite inconvenience, snow is nothing new to New Yorkers, and many have stories and memories of other winter woes from years gone by and how that affected the city and their neighborhoods.  One Nor’easter that has stood out in the history of NYC is the Great Blizzard of 1888; this storm was one of the most severe blizzards to hit the United States and paralyzed the East Coast.  On this snowy first day of spring, we have pulled some pictures from our Historic Image Archive detailing the Great Blizzard and other scenes of snow in the Village. Read the rest of this entry »

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Westbeth – Adaptive Reuse Trailblazer, Home, Studio, and Community for Over 50 Years

1968 was a big year for New York City and the world – music, arts, staggering political and social change. And, in the midst of it all, a tan block-square collection of connected buildings known as the Bell Telephone Laboratories was transformed into the Westbeth Center for the Arts.  A key component of that transformation was having the block rezoned in a new and unique way to allow residential, commercial, and non-profit use, which was approved on March 21, 1968. 

Westbeth Courtyard from the top of the ramp, by Ezra Stoller

The first time I walked into the Westbeth complex, I was amazed by how friendly everyone there was, how beautiful the facade was, and the uniqueness of the courtyard, studded with its half-moon balconies, sculpture, and round cement platforms instead of benches.  I was struck by the art in the window of the Bank Street Theater. It is at once a labyrinth, a home, an arts community, and a pioneer in adaptive reuse of industrial space. It was rare and precious, but in 1968 it was nothing less than trailblazing.

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Honoring Lucy and Lenny Cecere

Lucy, Lenny, and their family accepting the 2010 Village Award

Lucy Cecere, who passed away on March 19, 2011, at the age of 89, was small in stature, but a true giant in a neighborhood of outsized personalities in which she lived her whole life. She was someone who deeply loved her Greenwich Village neighborhood and was willing to fight to preserve it. She and her husband Lenny owned and operated the small business “Something Special” on MacDougal Street, a neighborhood fixture. Through their mailbox service, Lucy and her husband Lenny became deeply entwined in the lives of their customers.

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Irish Bars of the Village

Image via mrdennehys.com

As we approach St. Patrick’s Day, we realized we’ve discussed Irish churches, Irish heritage, Irish parade riots, and have written about cool East Village barsEast Village sports bars, historic bars, many posts on LGBT bars, and bars in general.  But we have never done a post to highlight our favorite Irish bars. There is no shortage of both old and new Irish bars in the Village, and although St. Patrick’s Day might not be the best day to visit every bar on this list, they are all worth checking out. Read the rest of this entry »

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Be Aware! The Ides of March and the Village

Beware the Ides of March! Though Caesar may have had cause to worry, thankfully the Village is a little more manageable than the Roman Republic.  However, that doesn’t mean this Ides we can’t be aware of it with our own twist.  Below are a few tidbits of Village history that hopefully help you notice the impact of Hellenistic culture, Italian influence, and the intrigue of murder right here in the Village! Read the rest of this entry »

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(Re-)Remembering Diane Arbus

Diane Arbus was born on March 14, 1923, and died by her own hand a mere forty-eight years later on July 26, 1971.  The acclaimed and celebrated photographer’s body of mid-20th century work focused largely on people marginalized by “mainstream” society.   Arbus’s first Greenwich Village address was a rear carriage house at 131 1/2 Charles Street where she moved in 1959 (read more about the house’s history from the NYC and NYS landmark designation reports on our website here).  In 1968, she moved to 120 East 10th Street in Renwick triangle, just around the block from GVSHP’s office (learn more about the history of Renwick Triangle and the surrounding St. Mark’s Historic District here). In 1970 she moved to the since-landmarked Westbesth Artists Community, where she committed suicide.

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Women’s Work: Celebrating (More) Amazing Female Artists of the Village

Scrolling through Off the Grid or any other collection of New York history, we’ve all become familiar with the legendary characters of the Village – Dylan, Kerouac, Hendrix, Duchamp, and the countless figures who have become synonymous with the neighborhood. Alongside them were incredible female creators who, although undoubtedly well-known, are sometimes forgotten. Today we continue to celebrate Women’s History Month with a spotlight on three more women of the Village who deserve to be remembered and celebrated for their amazing work.

Judy Collins, Yoko Ono, and Andrea Aranow

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When Delmonico’s Was On 14th Street

Delmonico’s, synonymous with elegant dining and fine cuisine in the heart of the Financial District, has enjoyed a long history in New York City. The restaurant was first started by Swiss brothers John and Peter Delmonico (originally Giovanni and Pietro) in 1830 at 25 Williams Street, next to their confectionery at 23 Williams Street. According to one source, it was the first restaurant to open in the United States modeled after those in Europe by offering a la carte fare. By 1836 the brothers, along with their nephew Lorenzo, bought land at 2 South William Street and built their purpose-built restaurant. Other Delmonico restaurant locations were established in New York throughout the 19th and into the early 20th centuries, following the ever-shifting centers of New York’s commercial and social scenes. One of the grandest such sites was at the edge of our neighborhood, at 1 East 14th Street.

Delmonico’s at 1 East 14th Street at the northeast corner of Fifth Avenue, c. 1865. Courtesy of MCNY.

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