Happy Dyngus Day!

Photo courtesy of forgottenbuffalo.com.

Photo courtesy of forgottenbuffalo.com.

The Monday following Easter is known to Ukrainians as Dyngus Day, and many Ukrainian American communities will host parades and celebrations to commemorate this holiday.  In America, Dyngus Day is celebrated as a fusion of American and Polish traditions, with “polka bands, a parade, consumption of krupnik, and Polish food accompanying American patriotic songs sung in English. Party-goers dress up in the white-and-red colors of the Polish flag and carry balloons saying ‘Happy Dyngus Day’ in English.” Read the rest of this entry »

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One Year After the Second Avenue Explosion

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Second Avenue and 7th Street, the site of the explosion.

Tomorrow will mark one year since the tragic gas explosion on Second Avenue and 7th Street street that killed two people and led to the collapse and destruction of three buildings and created a gap in our East Village community.  Many groups and people came together with heroic rescue efforts in the immediate aftermath of the explosion and fire and in searching through the debris.  Even more people and groups united in purpose to fill the void, by giving needed items or connecting to services and providing and place for the displaced to live temporarily. Read the rest of this entry »

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See You on the Dark Side of the Village!

Dark Side of the Moon album cover. Image courtesy of whiz.se.

Dark Side of the Moon album cover. Image courtesy of whiz.se.

In 1973, Pink Floyd released Dark Side of the Moon; the album hit U.S. shelves on March 1st and UK on March 16th.  Dark Side of the Moon was the band’s eighth studio album, their most commercially successful album, and one of the best-selling albums ever worldwide.  Conflict, greed, the passage of time, and mental illness are all themes that the album explores, largely inspired by the departure in 1968 of founder member, principal composer, and lyricist, Syd Barrett. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Cherry Lane Theatre opened 92 years ago tomorrow, March 24, 1924

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photo source: timeout.com

The first theatrical presentation at the Cherry Lane Playhouse (now the Cherry Lane Theatre) opened on March 24th, 1924: Richard Fresnell’s play, “Saturday Night.” Since then, many plays have been performed, and many a well known name has appeared on the marquis: Barbra Streisand, Judith Ivey, Bruce Willis, Gary Sinise, John Malkovich, James Earl Jones, Cicely Tyson, Colin Quinn, Jesse Eisenberg, Vanessa Redgrave, and Kim Stanley.

Located in one of the most scenic corners of the West Village, where Commerce Street (formerly Cherry Lane) turns to meet Barrow Street, the Cherry Lane Theatre is one of those treasures that we should all be thankful for, and that we should all support. This historic building, once a brewery, was converted to a theater in 1924 by a group affiliated with local resident (and Pulitzer Prize winning poet) Edna St. Vincent Millay. Playwrights including Gertrude Stein, T.S. Eliot, William Saroyan, Edward Albee, Harold Pinter, Sam Shepard, Lanford Wilson, and David Mamet have had their works presented here.

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“Landmarks Wouldn’t Allow That, Would They?”

land 2This has to be the most frequently asked question that we get regarding landmarked properties.  This question can be in reference to any number of changes including demolition, a proposed new building, or an alteration.  We wrote a blog a few weeks ago about our Landmarks Application webpage as a resource for information on upcoming, pending and closed applications on landmarked properties in our area.

Today we are going to illustrate how to use this same resource to gain a better understanding of the criteria for decisions by the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC).  This can be a useful tool for both the owner wishing to make an alteration to their landmarked property as well as the neighbor who has concerns over changes to properties in their area.

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Saving the South Village — ‘Seven to Save’

Four years ago today, the South Village was named to the Preservation League of New York State’s “Seven to Save” list.  This designation was a great boon to our ongoing efforts to preserve and protect the South Village, which has been a priority of GVSHP’s since we first proposed the area for landmark designation in 2006.

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Preservation League of NY State President Jay DiLorenzo speaking at the March 21, 2112 announcement, with GVSHP Exec. Dir. Andrew Berman (l.).

What the Preservation League wrote about the South Village in 2012 is just as true today “This neighborhood faces threats from demolition, development pressure, and loss of visual and architectural integrity.” They also noted “The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) has led the effort to document and advocate for the preservation of the South Village. They are seeking the League’s assistance in urging the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission to recognize the significance of the entire neighborhood with a historic district designation, which would also help protect the neighborhood’s architectural integrity.”

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Celebrating Jane Jacobs — 100th Birthday, and lots of programs, approaching

Jane Jacobs photo credit nypl.org

Jane Jacobs, who once lived on Hudson Street in the West Village, wrote the book, “Death and Life of Great American Cities.” Her activism is legendary. Many organizations throughout the city will be honoring her in 2016, the centennial of her birth.

GVSHP is planning several programs. A panel discussion will take place on Wednesday, May 4th – what would be her 100th birthday – to look at her legacy and how she informed the landscape we see today.

Later in the summer we are planning a Jane Jacobs Trivia Night, co-sponsored by Neighborhood Preservation Center and Village Alliance. This will be a fun evening, but the competition may be fierce, so you should start studying now!

 

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Was My House a…Brothel?!

From City of Eros by Timothy J. Gilfoyle

From City of Eros by Timothy J. Gilfoyle

It never fails to amaze me what we sometimes find, historically, was located in our neighborhoods.

DNAInfo NY recently published an article, “MAP: Discover the Hidden History of New York’s First Sex Districts.”   In addition to a history of prostitution in 19th century New York City, the article features an interactive map.  The map identifies the brothel locations based on pocket guide books for gentlemen seeking female “companionship” from that century.  This map also offers other information including the proprietess’ names, types of brothel and, in some cases, a review.  We took a closer look at the ones shown in Greenwich Village.

 

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GVSHP Oral History: Virlana Tkacz

TkaczGVSHP is excited to share our oral history collection with the public, and hope they will shed more light on what makes Greenwich Village and the East Village such unique and vibrant areas. Each of these histories highlights the experiences and insights of long-time residents, usually active in the arts, culture, preservation, business, or civic life of the neighborhood.  Recently we launched new collections focusing on the East and South Villages, and have been highlighting some of the featured individuals on Off the Grid.  These posts can be found here, and the entire oral history collection here.

Virlana Tkasc is the founding director of the Yara Arts Group, located at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club. Yara is currently celebrating its 25th anniversary and Virlana’s art is widely acclaimed. She has created twenty nine original theater pieces at Yara including collaborations with Eastern European experimental theater companies and with artists from Mongolia, Siberia, Kyrgyzstan and other distant regions. She has taught at Harvard, Yale, and NYU.
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Business of the Month: Screaming Mimi’s, 382 Lafayette Street

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

The downtown scene has long been known for it’s variety, funkiness and edge.  But how many stores have a “Cape” section? Or a “1970’s Jumpsuits” section?  And how many such stores would be able to withstand the vagaries of the market, rising rents and ever-changing notions of what is hip and fashionable for over 30 years?

Only one: Screaming Mimi’s, our March 2016 Business of the Month. Read the rest of this entry »

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