Live from the Village, It’s Saturday Night!

This day marks the 44th anniversary of the hit late-night variety show, Saturday Night Live. On October 11, 1975, NBC’s Saturday Night made its television debut. The show was created by Lorne Michaels under the original name of NBC’s Saturday Night. The show quickly evolved into a staple of American television and is one of the longest-running shows to date.

A comedian knows they have made it once they get to 30 Rock. Saturday Night Live has created the biggest stars in film and television including Adam Sandler, Robert Downey Jr., Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and many more. SNL may have launched the careers of its cast members into national stardom, but the Village is where many of them first got their start and continue to call their home.

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East Village Activist History on Display at Loisaida

Few places have made more significant contributions to civil rights and social justice struggles, artistic creativity, and freedom of expression than the East Village. Now more than ever, it’s important to remember and pay tribute to that history and to the lessons learned from it.  That is why it is important to take note of a just-opened exhibition called Activist Estates: A Radical History of Property in Loisaida. It’s an examination of participatory practices that illuminate the critical relationship between livable neighborhoods, real estate, architecture and activism.

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Horatio Gomez: Physician, Philanthropist, and Caretaker of Greenwich Village’s Architectural Heritage

This is one in a series of posts marking the 50th anniversary of the designation of the Greenwich Village Historic District.  Check out our year-long activities and celebrations at gvshp.org/GVHD50

Dr. Horatio Gomez was a 19th-century doctor who could trace his Jewish lineage to Abraham Haim de Ludena, one of the original Sephardic Jewish refugees fleeing persecution in Dutch Brazil after the Portuguese takeover, who were themselves descended from Jews who fled Spain and Portugal after the inquisition which began in 1492.  Gomez’s forefather Abraham arrived in New Amsterdam in 1654, part of the very first group of Jewish settlers anywhere in North America. Aside from his notable lineage Dr. Gomez was also a philanthropist active within the 19th-century Jewish community of New York City and the owner of what are today some of the properties most associated with the charm and history of Greenwich Village and the Greenwich Village Historic District, which had been in his family since at least 1799.

75 1/2 Bedford Street, with 75 Bedford to the left, and 77 to the right

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A Video Campaign to “Save the South Village”

On Columbus Day in 2012 ( which was on October 8th), Village Preservation launched its “Save the South Village” video campaign. Columbus Day is traditionally a time to celebrate the contributions made by Italian-Americans to our country.  Our “Save the South Village” video campaign began as an effort to highlight the incredible history (Italian-American and so much more) of the South Village, and to call upon the City to landmark this irreplaceable but at the time endangered neighborhood. We can now brag that Village Preservation was successful in its 10-year effort to secure landmark protections for the South Village, including the final piece, the Sullivan-Thompson Historic District, in 2016.

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Henry Wallace: Progressive Pioneer

Henry Agard Wallace (October 7, 1888 – November 18, 1965) served as Vice President under Franklin Delano Roosevelt from January 20, 1941 to January 20, 1945. Roosevelt preferred that Wallace serve a second term as Vice President, in which case he would have become our 33rd President, but other forces intervened to bounce him off the ticket and change the course of history. Though from Iowa, New York City was where Wallace found the most support for his 1948 presidential campaign as the Progressive Party candidate, and Greenwich Village was particularly fertile ground for his politics. He was supported by labor leaders and activists here, including a young Norman Mailer. His progressive policies played a large role in the 1948 election, and things may have played out much differently if not the timing of the Cold War and second red scare.

This photo of Wallace in Washington Square (date unknown) was donated to our historic image archive:  www.archive.gvshp.org

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Retracing The East Village’s Historic Little Italy

October, the month when we mark Columbus Day, is also Italian-American Heritage and Culture Month.  That combined with the recent celebrations around the 125th anniversary of Veniero’s inspires a closer look at the East Village’s own historic Little Italy, centered around First Avenue near the beloved pastry shop and cafe.  While not nearly as famous or intact as similar districts around Mulberry Street or Bleecker and Carmine Street in the South Village, if you look closely, or know where to dig, vestiges of the East Village’s once-thriving Italian community are all around.

In the second half of the 19th century, the East Village was a vibrant checkerboard of ethnic enclaves.  Germans were far and away the dominant group until the turn of the century, when Eastern European Jews took over the Second Avenue spine and much of what’s now Alphabet City, Hungarians congregated along Houston Street, and Slavs and Poles gravitated towards the blocks just west and north of Tompkins Square.  But a linear Italian-American enclave formed along and near First Avenue, broadening at 14th Street.  Vestiges of this community survived into the third quarter of the 20th century, with just a few establishments and structures connected to that era continuing to function today.

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Third Street Music School’s Long Journey to 11th Street

The Third Street Music School Settlement was founded by Emilie A. Wagner as the Music School Settlement with just 10 students in 1894. How they made the long journey to their current home on East 11th Street, and to serving over 5,000 students each year including some of the biggest names in music, is quite a story.

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Underground Railroad Church Once Located in Greenwich Village Led Abolitionist Cause

The Shiloh Presbyterian Church is one of many African American churches once found in Greenwich Village, when nearly all the city’s leading African American churches were located in this neighborhood. Like most of those churches, it played a leading role in the abolitionist movement, and its present-day descendant church can be found in Harlem. But some aspects of the Shiloh Presbyterian Church’s history make it stand out, even among its illustrious peers.

Rioters burning the Colored Orphan Asylum. Photo courtesy of NYPL Digital Collections.

Shiloh had many homes in various locations throughout lower Manhattan in the 19th century. From its earliest days it was part of the Underground Railroad, and was led by a series of radical black leaders who consistently found new ways to fight the system of slavery and support the city’s black communities. During the Draft Riots of 1863, the church’s fourth minister, the avid abolitionist, educator, orator, and Greenwich Village resident Henry Highland Garnet provided aid to those affected by the riots, and publicly discussed the influences and effects of the deadly and damaging events.

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In Death, As In Life, Marcel Duchamp Left Mystery

Marcel Duchamp was born in France on July 28, 1887 and died on October 2, 1968. He was trained as a painter in Paris until 1905, and spent much of his adult life living in Paris and New York City. He moved to Greenwich Village, not because of the artistic milieu, but to be near the Marshall Chess Club. And when he died in 1968, he left a big, beautiful mystery in his studio at 80 East 11th Street.

Marcel Duchamp with one of his readymades. (Courtesy: youtube.com)

Marcel Duchamp with one of his readymades. (Courtesy: youtube.com)

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More Historic Images Show Us What’s Changed and What’s Remained the Same

One of our most recently landmarked buildings, the Roosevelt Building at 841 Broadway, has an exciting application for alterations which includes the restoration of its piers at the storefront level. Included in this application are some beautiful images of not just the building but Broadway, Union Square, and East 13th Street which we have just added to our historic image archive. These images illustrate not just the changes to the building and the area but they also show us how much rich architecture remains intact.

841 Broadway c. 1920, c. 1940 and c. 1960

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