Rocky Horror Midnight Show Is Born

rockyhorrorWhile the Rocky Horror Picture Show premiered in London and Los Angeles in 1975, the now classic cult film was not really successful until it launched its ongoing run of midnight shows here in Greenwich Village. That very first midnight show took place on April 1, 1976, at the Waverly Theatre (now the IFC Center) on 6th Avenue and W. 3rd Street. This first midnight screening set off a chain of events leading to the film’s unique place in American culture. Read the rest of this entry »

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Astor Place Reconstruction Recalls Historic Streets, Mosaics & The Alamo

The old Astor Place. The Alamo and the mosaics will be returning. The hammock will not. Image via http://heryktomassini.com/artwork/3759111-hammock-at-astor-place.html

The old Astor Place. The Alamo and the mosaics will be returning. The hammock will not. Image via http://heryktomassini.com/artwork/3759111-hammock-at-astor-place.html

If you are one of the over 100,000 people a day that make your way through Astor Place or Cooper Square, you cannot help but notice the amazing amount of progress that is evident by the workers on the long awaited reconstruction.  The cement is still drying in some parts, but more of the major components of the Astor Place / Cooper Square area are coming into view. The Alamo, features of the historic streets and trails, as well as the impressive street furniture mosaics, will all be prominent features of the redesign.

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The Federal Style Explained

33-39 7th Street

33-39 East 7th Street

We recently published a detailed report of the Federal style houses which GVSHP has helped to get landmarked, listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places, or both.   This architectural style for houses prevailed between the Revolutionary War and about 1835, and derived from the English Georgian style following a classical vocabulary.  In Classic New York, Ada Louise Huxtable described the Federal style as refined and decorous, “the architecture of good breeding and good manners.”

To help understand and appreciate the Federal style and its characteristics, here is a detailed explanation of the style as applied to the New York City row house.

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Five Hundred Years Ago, The First Ghetto Is Founded

Five hundred years ago today, on March 29, 1516, the Venice Ghetto was established by decree of the Venice Ruling Council.  The very first ghetto, it was a tiny 2 1/2 block area on a small, dirty island housing over 4,000 people.  The name comes from the Italian getto meaning “casting,” or Venetian geto meaning “foundry.”

The Venice Ghetto, long after the walls were torn down. Via http://www.jewishlearningworks.org/events/2016/3/29/exhibition-opening-for-il-ghetto-the-venice-ghetto-at-500

The Venice Ghetto, long after the walls were torn down. Via http://www.jewishlearningworks.org/events/2016/3/29/exhibition-opening-for-il-ghetto-the-venice-ghetto-at-500

With its establishment, the ghetto became the only place Venetian Jews were allowed to live — a gated area within which its residents were locked at night.  The Jews of the ghetto were surveilled, limited in their movements and the professions they could practice, and forced to wear yellow markings on their clothing when they left the ghetto.  In the years that followed, similar ghettos were established in cities throughout Europe.  Venice’s gated ghetto survived until 1797, when Napolean stormed the city and tore down the ghetto walls, ending the restrictions on Jewish life.

The legacy of the founding of the Venice ghetto five hundred years ago cannot be overstated. Not only did it give birth to the concept of a “ghetto” as a place where marginalized groups where forced to live in cities under trying conditions.  But this type of anti-Semitism eventually led to a mass migration of Jews from Europe to the New World, particularly to New York’s Lower East Side, including the present-day East Village.  Here, these immigrants shaped and utterly transformed our city, nation, and especially our neighborhood.

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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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