House Tour Preview

Exterior of 3 Washington Square North, February 2011. Photograph by Christine Joosten

Exterior of 3 Washington Square North, February 2011. Photograph by Christine Joosten

This year’s Spring House Tour Benefit is right around the corner and features seven exquisite Village properties. In keeping with the storied history of the Village as an artist’s haven, the Spring House Tour has a longstanding tradition of including artist’s and curators spaces on the tour. This year is no exception, and promises to delight.
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The Death and Life of Louis Sullivan

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Louis Sullivan, 1895

On this day in 1924, the architect Louis Sullivan, the “father of modernism,” key figure of the Chicago and the Prairie Schools of Architecture, progenitor of the skyscraper and coiner of the phrase “form follows function,” died.

None of these descriptors would lead one to believe that Sullivan would have any relationship to Greenwich Village, much less a beloved one.  But much as his sad and tragic death gave little indication of the stature and influence of his life and career, his pioneering work giving visual identity to the skyscraper and stripping architecture down to its most essential elements nevertheless found a distinct and remarkable home in Greenwich Village.

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Business of the Month: The Silversmith, 184 3/4 West 4th Street

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.

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Still from video interview by Manhattan Sideways.

Not many shops survive to ring in their golden anniversary, much less past it.  But The Silversmith on West 4th has been open over 50 years. Proprietor Ruth Kuzub has been working there since 1960, later opening her own shop in the creative crevice wedged between two  buildings. And though she needs no further credentials to burnish her image as a neighborhood fixture, she is the caretaker of our latest Business of the Month.

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Happy Belated Birthday Max Ernst!

Max Ernst, 1920, Punching Ball ou l'Immortalité de Buonarroti, photomontage, gouache, ink on photograph (self-portrait). Image courtesy of m-aya.livejournal.com.

Max Ernst, 1920, Punching Ball ou l’Immortalité de Buonarroti, photomontage, gouache, ink on photograph (self-portrait). Image courtesy of m-aya.livejournal.com.

One hundred twenty-five years and ten days ago the artist Max Ernst was born.  While it may seem strange we are choosing to remember him on this day, it is our way of honoring Ernst’s unorthodox artistic outlook.  Ernst is a pioneering figure in both the Dada and Surrealist movements.  The former, often referred to as “anti-art,” emerged after World War I as an anti-war, anti-bourgeois far left  movement.  Dadaist art pieces generally included readymade objects, a critique on the establishment of traditional art making, and participation in activities and public spectacles, including “public gatherings, demonstrations, and publication of art/literary journals.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Tenement House Act of 1901

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Photo of tenements by Jacob Riis, c. 1900. Increasing awareness by the public of poor living conditions led to housing reform such as the Tenement House Act of 1901.

April 12, 1901 marks the date when the New York State Legislature passed the Tenement House Act of 1901, more commonly known as the “New Law” or “New Tenement Law.”   This significant moment in New York City housing history resulted from intense pressure by housing reform groups, leading to Governor Theodore Roosevelt appointing a commission to study the issue of the need to reform existing housing law in New York in 1900.  In February 1901, the commission issued a report to the new governor, Benjamin B. Odell, Jr. (Roosevelt had become vice president), recommending new legislation.  The State Legislature almost immediately held hearings, and on April 12, 1901, only two months after the commission issued its report, the Tenement House Act of 1901 was enacted.

Though you may not be familiar with this law, its impact and legacy in neighborhoods like Greenwich Village and the East Village cannot be understated, as some of the most distinctive and ubiquitous structures in these neighborhoods are “new law tenements.”

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Rallying To Save The South Village

Five years ago this Sunday GVSHP and other community and preservation groups held a Rally to Save the South Village.  More than 150 people including elected officials, community and business leaders and neighbors turned out on April 11, 2011 to call upon the City to landmark the remainder of the South Village and save this historic neighborhood from further destruction and out-of-scale new development.

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Andrew Berman speaking at the Rally to Save the South Village, April 10, 2011

This was an important stop along the way in our ongoing effort to preserve and protect the South Village.  We’ve made tremendous progress, but the job is still not entirely done.

 

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Three Ways the New LPC Map is Better than NYCMap

The Landmarks Preservation Commission recently released a new interactive map. The map shows all exterior, interior, and scenic landmarks, historic districts, and properties calendared for designation. According to LPC Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan, “The launch of this map is a key milestone in our efforts to ensure that all New Yorkers have the history of our city at their fingertips”.

You might ask how is this map different from the NYC map, which already shows exterior, interior, and scenic landmarks, historic districts.  There are several tools that the new map provides that are not available on NYC Map:

The Citymap image on the left (Image 1) indicates a landmark but the Image 2 on the right is from the new LPC site on the right shows the borders of the landmark, in this case Grace Church School.

The Citymap image on the left (Image 1) indicates a landmark is present but the new LPC Map on the right (Image 2) shows the borders of the landmark, in this case Grace Church School.

1. The LPC map specifies the borders of an individual landmark rather than just indicating it with a symbol on a map. This is helpful when indicating which property is the landmark and which are surrounding buildings (see image on the right), and how much exactly of the property is landmarked, since sometimes not all is. Read the rest of this entry »

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One Hundred Twenty Five Years of NYC Streetcars Started in the Village

New York City Trolley or Streetcar service ended in New York City on April 6th, 1957 on Welfare (now Roosevelt) Island. But it began one hundred twenty five years earlier on November 14, 1832, with not only New York City but the world’s first streetcar line with ran on the Bowery and Fourth Avenue, between Prince and 14th Street.

Trolley and elevated subway line at Cooper Square circa 1901. Postcard image courtesy of David Mulkins.

Trolleys were an effective way to travel for decades and directly related to where development occurred in the growing city.  An improvement over horse drawn carriages, their predecessor, they dominated our streets until cars, buses and the subway system edged them off the platform of transportation options.

Always looking for a faster way to get around town, and adapt to different real estate and development dynamics, public transportation has changed quite a bit since the city’s first efforts in the 1820’s.  Crowded subways with people sandwiched next to each other coupled with intense car and truck traffic are leading to new ideas inspired by history for getting around town and changing the minds of naysayers.

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On This Day in 1837 — Christopher Park Is Born!

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

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

On this day in 1837, the City condemned a parcel of land between Christopher, Grove, and West 4th Streets, which eventually became Christopher ParkRead the rest of this entry »

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43 MacDougal Street: A Happy Ending At Last?

Five years ago we wrote about the terrible, deteriorating conditions at 43 MacDougal Street, a landmarked, 1846 Greek Revival townhouse at the corner of King Street in the King-Charlton-VanDam Historic District.  The building had been neglected to the point of near-abandonment for over a decade.

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43 MacDougal Street, April 4, 2011

With a rainy week ahead, we were worried the historic structure might not survive, as it was unsealed and had suffered for years not just from the elements but from homeless encampments within and without.

A few days later, we found out things were even worse than we thought.

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43 MacDougal Street, April 7, 2011, from above

Neighbors of the building had to deal with garbage, smell, rodents, penetrating leaks, and the fear that the buildings might collapse.  For years, GVSHP pushed both the absentee owner and the City to take action to save the deteriorating landmark, including calling for a “demolition by neglect” suit.

Who says there are no happy endings?

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