Kirk Douglas – Actor, Producer and Villager

“I am Spartacus!”

That is what many people think of when they think of Kirk Douglas, in his role in the 1960 film Spartacus as the leader of a slave revolt in ancient Rome. But did you know he once made his home in Greenwich Village? While he was a struggling actor at the beginning of what would be an auspicious career, he lived here in the years before World War II.  He would go on to become one of Hollywood’s most popular leading men in the mid-20th century, as well as a film producer, philanthropist, and author.

Kirk Douglas in the 1960 film Spartacus.

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That Time (One of Many) When Trump Was Caught

On December 6, 2006, the Trump SoHo ‘Condo-Hotel’ was caught advertising its planned units to prospective buyers as a “Primary Residence” or “Secondary Residence.” GVSHP found the advertisements and immediately fired off a letter demanding yet again that construction of the building not be allowed, as the zoning for the area prohibited residential uses. Unfortunately, the city did not listen to us and our allies — then or many times since — and the Trump SoHo was allowed to be built in violation of zoning regulations.  Local elected officials like then-Borough President Scott Stringer and then-City Council Speaker Christine Quinn both stood by the City’s decision to allow the monstrosity to be built.

New York Magazine, December 6, 2006 by S. Jhoanna Robledo.

Trump Lies and Violates ZoningRead the rest of this entry »

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The End of Prohibition!

There have been a handful of times in this country when the outcome of a political campaign was truly stunning. Such was the case in 1919 when several groups known as the “Drys” won a 70 year campaign to prohibit the production, sale, and distribution of alcohol.  The 18th Amendment abolished booze in 1919.  The law was enforced in 1920 with the Volstead Act.

Women’s Christian Temperance Union Getty images

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Happy Chanukah from the Village – Celebrating Through History!

I was holiday shopping at my local bookstore and was delighted to encounter Emily Jenkins’ “All of a Kind Family Hanukkah.” In the book, a Jewish immigrant family prepares for Chanukah in their Lower East Side Tenement in 1912. The family’s four daughters share a room, make latkes, throw tantrums, and in the end light their menorah on Henry Street (and you can meet Emily Jenkins this Chanukah).

A spread from All of a Kind Family Hanukkah, illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky, care of Amazon. A Lower East Side street scene with a menorah in a tenement window

East Side tenements were home to New York’s Eastern European Jewish community especially in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and Chanukah on the Lower East Side (which included what some of us now call the East Village and Loisaida) and the stories of the neighborhood’s Jewish immigrants helped make the winter holidays – and the Village – what they are today.

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Interior Artwork of Our Lady of Pompeii Church

The Center For Migration Studies has provided GVSHP with historic images in the past, and recently sent us several images of the interior artwork of Our Lady of Pompeii church. The church has stood on the northwest corner of Carmine and Bleecker Streets since 1928, but the congregation dates back to 1892, when Father Pietro Bandini, founder of the New York branch of what was then an international effort, the Saint Raphael Society for the Protection of Italian Immigrants, gave the name Our Lady of Pompeii to the chapel in his agency’s New York headquarters. In 1896, Father Bandini went on to another mission, and his successor, Father Francis Zaboglio, could not keep the immigrant-aid agency going financially.  So he focused instead on turning the chapel into a church that would serve the needs of Italian immigrants in the area.

The history of Our Lady of Pompeii is tied to the Church of St. Benedict the Moor. Established in 1883 as the first northern church for black Roman Catholics, in 1892 St. Benedict the Moor moved into a beautiful Greek Revival church first built in 1836 for the Third Universalist Society at 210 Bleecker Street. The area was then a predominantly African-American neighborhood known as “Little Africa“.

Originally erected by the Third Unitarian Universalist Church in 1833 on the corner of Downing and Bleecker Streets, in 1883 this church was sold to the African-American Roman Catholic congregation of Saint Benedict the Moor, who in turn sold the property to Our Lady of Pompeii Church in 1898. They remained in the building until it was demolished to make way for the extension of 6th Avenue in 1926.

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Only Seven Landmarks in One of New York’s Most Historically Rich Areas? What about 37 East 12th Street?

Recently we looked at seven late 19th and early 20th century buildings now under consideration for landmarking by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (read about them here,) They are all located along Broadway south of Union Square, in an area rich in architectural and cultural significance, and also increasingly endangered since the approval by the City Council of the Mayor’s “Tech Hub” on 14th Street.  So in looking around the area, it begs the question: why only these seven? Today we look at one gem not yet under consideration for landmarking: 37 East 12th Street.

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The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is a Visual Ode to the Village

My favorite series in the past MANY years is The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel written by the amazing Amy Sherman-Palladino.  Not only is her rapid-fire dialogue and direction a joy to watch and listen to, but the actors who have been cast in the show are sublimely well-suited for their roles.  Then, of course, there are the FABULOUS locations, many of which are right here in our very own ‘hoods! Read the rest of this entry »

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POPS goes the Village!

POPS Map. Image courtesy of the Municipal Art Society.

Privately owned public spaces, or POPS, are public areas adjoining or adjacent to buildings created through incentivized zoning.  What this zoning means is that by providing a public space, developers are given a floor area bonus, allowing them to build a larger building with a greater Floor Area Ratio (FAR) than they would have been able if they did not provide a POPS.  POPS became a formal part of NYC zoning in the 1961 zoning resolution.  Since the inception of this zoning, NYC has seen the addition of about 525 POPS to its landscape.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Public Art to #LightTheFight for World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day takes place on the 1st December each year. It’s an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness. Begun in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day. The Village is a longtime home to the LGBTQ community and was home to St. Vincent’s Hospital, which was on the frontline of HIV/AIDS care as medicine began to tackle HIV/AIDS. In our neighborhoods, the impact and memories of AIDS run deep. We are home to the NYC AIDS Memorial Park, which is marking World AIDS Day this year with its incredible art and activism initiative #LightTheFight.

NYC AIDS Memorial. Photo by Mark Abrahams, care of the NYC AIDS Memorial

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New Historic Images- Astor Place, 10th Street, Village Community School, and more.

GVSHP just added 29 new historic images to our archive taken from current public applications to the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) for significant changes to landmarked buildings in our neighborhoods. Historic photos are typically included in applications to provide explanation or context for proposed changes in historic districts or to individually landmarked structures, and GVSHP tracks and provides access to every one of these applications on our website. Today we will look at a few of the new images and their stories.

We recently wrote about the history of Wanamaker’s department store at 770 Broadway. Now home to K Mart, Facebook, and several other companies, this full block building was built in two stages in 1903-07 and 1924-25.

Wanamaker Building under construction as seen in the landmarks application.

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