Rulers and Royalty of the Village
Gone but not forgotten, below is a list of just some of the individuals who have carried honorary titles in connection to the Village. Each one was influential in the arts or in advocating for the unique character of the neighborhood. Their legacies will forever remain testaments to how they shaped the Village, and how the Village shaped them.
King of Greenwich Village Bohemians
Maxwell Bodenheim was a poet, novelist, and Chicago literary figure who went on to become known as the “King of Greenwich Village Bohemians.” A native of Mississippi, Bodenheim came of age as a literary figure in Chicago in the 1910’s. By the 20’s and 30’s, Bodenheim had established himself as a poet and novelist and leading figure in the Greenwich Village bohemian scene, having relocated to New York by that time. Unfortunately by the late 1930’s, Bodenheim was already in decline, a life of excess reducing him and his wife to panhandling in the Village. He and his wife were killed on February 6, 1954 in a flophouse at 97 Third Avenue, by a twenty-five year old dishwasher with whom he and his wife had stayed for the evening.
Mayor of Greenwich Village
The longest serving member of the city’s network of 59 community boards, the late Anthony Dapolito holds the unofficial title of the “Mayor of Greenwich Village.” A long time South Village resident from a Neapolitan family, Dapolito’s family owned, and operated Vesuvio Bakery since 1920. When Tony came of age he began working at Vesuvio and running deliveries from it. He became more involved in the neighborhood in the 1950’s when he spoke out and fought against Robert Moses’s Lower Manhattan Expressway plan. By 1954 he was appointed to the then newly-formed Community Board 2 in Manhattan, serving on it for 52 years. He passed away in 2002; in 2003, the day before what would have been his 83rd birthday, the NYC Dept. of Parks and Recreation named the former Carmine Street Recreation Center on 7th Avenue between Carmine and Clarkson streets after him.
Mayor of MacDougal Street
Dave Van Ronk, an influential figure in the American folk music revival and Greenwich Village music scene of the 1960’s, also holds the title of “Mayor of MacDougal Street.” Originally from Brooklyn, Van Ronk spent most of his years in Lower Manhattan immersed in the blues, jazz, and folk music of the downtown scene. He eventually settled at 15 Sheridan Square, a street which now bears the name “Dave Van Ronk Street.” He was an inspiration to Joan Baez, as well as a mentor to Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell. He passed away in 2002.