Happy 80th Birthday, Merchant’s House Museum!

Front entrance of the Merchant's House Museum. Photo courtesy of static.panoramio.com.

Front entrance of the Merchant’s House Museum. Photo courtesy of static.panoramio.com.

Eighty years ago today, on May 11, 1936, the old Tredwell house on 4th Street opened as the Merchant’s House Museum. Read the rest of this entry »

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In the East Village, Aiming to Leave No Deserving Place Behind

Note: This is an updated version of a post originally by Karen Loew

NYC marble cemThe New York City Marble Cemetery, on 2nd Street between First and Second Avenues. It’s open to the public several days each year. Photo by Bobby Williams, courtesy evgrieve.com.

Do the tall arches of the sturdy red-brick Anthology Film Archives reassure you? Does the stillness of the New York City Marble Cemetery give you a thrill? Perhaps passing exuberant 101 Avenue A, the Pyramid Club, puts a bounce in your step?

Well, there’s good news:  these unique features of the East Village aren’t going anywhere. They are included in the East Village/Lower East Side Historic District, meaning that not only are they protected, but any new development that occurs within the district is regulated to complement the existing sense of place. (Even if a building or property has already been designated an Individual Landmark, as the NYC Marble Cemetery was in 1969, being in a historic district is a benefit because it promises to keep the nearby development contextual.)  And in fact it was five years ago today that GVSHP and allied community and preservation groups began the successful effort to get the Landmarks Preservation Commission to include these sites in the then-under-consideration historic district.

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Julia Ward Howe, Feminist Pioneer

Julia Ward Howe, c. 1855. Engraving after a drawing by Porter; Hulton Archive, Getty Images

Julia Ward Howe, c. 1855. Engraving after a drawing by Porter; Hulton Archive, Getty Images

Julia Ward Howe was a true 19th century Renaissance woman.  In addition to being a serious scholar of philosophy and fluent in seven languages, she was a social reformer, writer, abolitionist, suffragette, and one of the early founders of Mother’s Day.  Author of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” this one-time Bond Street resident did not have an easy life, but she did have a remarkable one.  That’s why she’s one of many great women, and civil rights or social justice pioneers, featured on GVSHP’s Civil Rights and Social Justice map.

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What Style is It? Mid-19th Century Edition

Morton Street, courtesy of Google Maps

Morton Street, courtesy of Google Maps

Greenwich Village, the East Village and NoHo offer a vast array of architectural styles that span their long histories.  Through this series “What Style Is It?” we will explore the architecture of our area and look at the various architectural styles and their features.  So far we have looked at the Federal style and Greek Revival.

Today we will look at mid-19th century styles including Gothic Revival, Italianate and Anglo Italianate.

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Continuing the Work of Jane Jacobs

Jane JacobsYesterday was Jane Jacobs’ 100th birthday, an event marked and celebrated throughout the world.

Here at GVSHP, we have a special connection to Jane Jacobs — not only because she was on our Board of Advisors until her death in 2006, but because her activism and ideas were so firmly rooted in the Village, and so many of the seminal preservation battles she fought were here.

We marked the day with a panel discussion examining her legacy and by talking about how we continue to strive to fulfill the ideals she set out more than a half century ago.

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Jane Jacobs’ October 31, 1963 letter to the Landmarks Preservation Commission

One particular way in which we do so is to fight for expanded landmark protections for the Village.  On October 31, 1963, Jane Jacobs urged the newly-established Landmarks Preservation Commission to landmark all of Greenwich Village, all the way to the Hudson River waterfront.  They did not quite go that far when they designated the Greenwich Village Historic District in 1969, in fact leaving out all the waterfront blocks Jane argued should be included.

To make her case for landmark designation, Jane cited ten particular buildings in her memo to the Landmarks Preservation Commission which she said exemplified the historic qualities worthy of preservation in this area.

In recently reviewing this letter from Jane as part of the 100th anniversary celebration, I was thrilled to discover that in the intervening years, we have been able to get nine of the ten buildings Jane called out landmarked or included in historic districts.

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May The Fourth Be With You! Geek and Nerdom in the Village.

Light Saber in Washington Square Park. Photo courtesy of http://washingtonsquareparkerz.com/

Light Saber in Washington Square Park. Photo courtesy of http://washingtonsquareparkerz.com/

Not long ago, in theaters far, far away (and near too), a movie came out that influenced the interests and imaginations of generations to come.

There are a few connections between Star Wars and the Village.  On December 18, 2015, in honor of the release of The Force Awakens, a large crowd of fans gathered in Washington Square Park for “Lightsaber Battle NYC: Battle of Hoth Edition.”  This event was an attempt to set a new world record for largest lightsaber battle; though the NYC crowd was only large enough to fill the (then drained) fountain in the center of the park, their effort was as one group alongside many that were taking place across the country.  Additionally, New York Jedi, “a community of Cosplayers, martial artists and teachers, who share practical Stage Combat techniques oriented toward Light Sabers, in order to create illuminated stage combat,” will also hold light saber classes and demonstrations in Washington Square Park.  Be sure to look on their calendar to find any coming up.

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From South Village to South Bronx, the Legacy of Jane Jacobs

In 1955 the Committee to Save Washington Square Park was distributing flyers to alert the public about a proposal to drive a four-lane road through the center of the park.  One neighborhood  resident, then  a writer with Architectural Forum, read it, and got involved. Tomorrow May 4th is the centenary of Jane Jacobs birth.  We are joining the entire world in celebrating this milestone and hosting an event in her name here in Greenwich Village, where her vision and community organizing efforts were crystalized and first exercised.

Via http://www.6sqft.com

Via http://www.6sqft.com

One hundred years after her birth, the legacy of Jane Jacobs persists. So too do the forces of rampant top-down development that she worked to battle and transform.

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Happy Birthday Greenwich Village Historic District

Note: This is an updated version of a post originally written by Drew Durniak

Map of the Greenwich Village Historic District. Click to enlarge.

Map of the Greenwich Village Historic District. Click to enlarge.

On April 29th, 1969, mayor John Lindsay was still smarting from the botched cleanup of the February 1969 snowstorm, The 5th Dimension was at the top of the pop charts with Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In, and the newly created Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) designated the Greenwich Village Historic District. It also produced a historic district report, describing the 2,000 or so buildings and the broader neighborhood included in the landmarked district. For four decades it was the city’s largest historic district, covering hundreds of buildings in one of New York’s oldest neighborhoods.

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What Style Is It? Greek Revival Edition

Greenwich Village, the East Village and NoHo offer a vast array of architectural styles that span their long histories.  The Greek Revival style, which dominated these neighborhoods for much of the 1830s and 40s, and of which ample examples survive today, was in many ways inspired by an event which took place on March 25, 1821 five thousand miles away.

Following the Revolutionary War, New York was a town small in size compared to Philadelphia and Boston, though cosmopolitan in its make-up and appearance.  However, over the next fifty years, especially after the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825, New York rapidly established itself as a great commercial center, surpassing its rival cities in population and shipping trade.   As a result, a huge amount of building, and prosperity, followed.

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Historic Homes on the GVSHP House Tour

This year’s Spring House Tour Benefit is right around the corner (this Sunday, actually), and features seven exquisite Village properties. In keeping with the storied history of the Village, the Spring House Tour has a longstanding tradition of including historic properties. This year is no exception, as six of the seven homes are located within our neighborhood’s historic districts.

17 Vandam Street

17 Vandam Street

In 2014, three of the homes featured on the tour were located within the small Charlton King-Vandam Historic District, including 21 Charlton Street, 27 Charlton Street, and 17 Vandam Street. This district was designated in 1966, making it one of the City’s first designated historic districts. It was added to the State and National Registers of Historic Places in 1973. Read the rest of this entry »

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