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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Hudson Square Rezoning and the South Village

SVHDThis Sunday, March 13th, is the three year anniversary of the NYC Council Land Use Committee vote to approve the proposed Hudson Square Rezoning.

This vote was a significant milestone for GVSHP and our allies, as we had waged a campaign to get the City Council to refuse to approve the rezoning unless the LPC also committed to move ahead with the nearby proposed South Village Historic District, which would have been impacted by the proposed rezoning.

While we had mixed feelings about the rezoning and had called for changes (some of which were adopted, others not), it nevertheless directly led to the South Village Historic District being landmarked on December 13, 2013, which included a significant chunk of the area we had called for being landmarked, with another significant chunk having already been landmarked in 2010. Unfortunately, the southern third of GVSHP’s proposed South Village Historic District was not approved in 2013, and continues to lack the protections of its surrounding historic districts.
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History For Sale: 3 East 3rd Street

better photo with the For Sale sign will go somewhere in post

3 East 3rd Street For Sale

Whenever we see another ‘For Sale‘ sign in our neighborhoods, it is often the cause for worry or fear.  Concerns naturally arise that another out-of-context tower might obliterate the skyline, or another new development might destroy the unique character of our retail spaces.

But sometimes it could be a lot worse, and the hard work we have done has made a difference.  Such is the case at 3 East 3rd Street, offered for sale again, this time by Marcus & Millichap, as announced by a banner recently strung across the front of the building.

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Megamansions of the Village

Minetta Lane — a mecca for tourists and history buffs, and soon home to the South Village’s first tenement-to-mansion conversion? 9 Minetta Street is painted yellow, at the bend in the street.

Minetta Street— a mecca for tourists and history buffs, and soon home to the South Village’s first tenement-to-mansion conversion? 9 Minetta Street is painted yellow, at the bend in the street.

Throughout the Village, we have seen houses built, and houses demolished.  But sometimes, we see something in between.

In some cases, new owners want more space than a traditional Village building can provide them.  As a result, they will buy a couple of townhouses side-by-side or entire tenement buildings to combine internally, and create what some are calling “megamansions.”  In these cases, though the interiors may change, the historic look of the buildings on the outside may more or less be maintained.  But certainly, something very important has changed.

Here are a few examples of ones that have been built, and others that are potentially in the works. Read the rest of this entry »

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Big Changes Proposed For What Was Once A Federal Rowhouse

25 Bleecker Street, courtesy of Google Maps

25 Bleecker Street, courtesy of Google Maps

25 Bleecker Street is one of nine extant buildings originally constructed as Federal style row houses in the NoHo East Historic District.  It was built c. 1830 for David Chrystie at a time when this area was being developed with homes for the city’s expanding middle class.  Although altered considerably over the years, the house has links back to this earliest period of development in New York.  An application was recently filed with the Landmarks Preservation Commission for the demolition of this building in order that a new six-story building with a penthouse addition may take its place.  (Click HERE to see the GVSHP Landmarks Application webpage for this proposal).

In light of this proposal, we thought we’d delve a bit into 25 Bleecker’s history, and put its development in context for the NoHo Historic District.

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How Greenwich Village Saved Piet Mondrian

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Piet Mondrian, ca. 1899

The great modern painter Piet Mondrian was born on this day, March 7th, in 1872.

Mondrian (born Pieter Cornelis Mondriaan) is perhaps most closely associated with the De Stijl movement of the 1910’s and 20’s in his native Netherlands, and with ‘mod’ French fashion design of the 1960’s (see Yves Saint Laurent’s iconic Mondrian dresses).  But the time and place which had the most profound influence on Mondrian may have been Greenwich Village in the 1940’s.

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Mondrian’s influence could be felt in the design of everything from (clockwise from top left) dresses to hotels to sneakers.

In fact, some might say that Greenwich Village saved Piet Mondrian.

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In Old Greenwich Village

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In Old New York by Thomas A. Janvier

I recently came across a book printed in 1894 by Thomas A. Janvier entitled In Old New York.  The section on Greenwich Village contained a treasure trove of illustrations, some of which could be compared to views of today.

However, before I get to the images, here is how the author described the Village and its street plan:

In the resolute spirit of another Andorra, the village of Greenwich maintains its independence in the very midst of the city of New York – submitting to no more of a compromise in the matter of autonomy than is involved in the Procrustean sort of splicing which has hitched fast the extremities of its tangles streets to the most readily available streets in the City Plan. 

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