Happy Bastille Day!
We know that you all know it’s Bastille Day, but did you know that the South Village once had a large and lively French community? The 1880 U.S. census showed that a large number of French immigrants were, at this time, living on the streets south of Washington Square and as far east as Broadway. This community was known as “Quartier Francais” and was likely settled by exiles following the 1871 Paris Commune. An 1879 article of Scribner’s Monthly referred to these people as of the “lowest and poorest class.” It also reported that many of the French apartments were doubling as factories for the manufacturing artificial flowers and leaves and for feather dying. So, today, in honor of Bastille Day, tip your beret to the South Village!
This information was taken from GVSHP’s Proposed South Village Historic District Report, written by Architectural Historian Andrew S. Dolkart.