Westbeth Photographer Shelley Seccombe Documents the Greenwich Village Waterfront Since 1970

When the Westbeth complex was converted to the first subsidized housing for artists in the United States fifty years ago, the great photographer Shelley Seccombe was one of the first tenants to move in. Over the course of her career, Seccombe has documented the people and landscape of the surrounding neighborhood, marking the events that have defined it and the changes that have reshaped it across five decades, since 1970. The photos she has generously shared with Village Preservation are just a small portion of her work, providing an invaluable portrait of Village history, waterfront history, Westbeth history, and so much more.

Skateboarders in the courtyard at Westbeth, c. 1977.

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2020 Village Awardee: Cinema Village, 22 East 12th Street

Each year, Village Preservation honors the invaluable people, businesses, and organizations that make a special contribution to our neighborhoods at our Annual Meeting and Village Awards. This year, on June 17th, 2020 we will be celebrating nine outstanding awardees — RSVP here to participate virtually.

Cinema Village, located at 22 East 12th Street, is the oldest continuously operated cinema in Greenwich Village and one of the oldest continuously operated art cinemas in the city. And this year it is one of our Village Awardees!

Cinema Village, 22 East 12th Street

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Distance Learning for Children: History and Historic Preservation Part II


Village Preservation has developed online resources for students from our acclaimed children’s education program, History and Historic Preservation. These videos and activities are designed for children ages 5-7.  During this time of remote learning, these are a great resource and a way to keep children engaged and expand their horizons from home. Today we introduce Part 2. Click here to watch the introduction video and Part 1 of this series.

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Robert Hogan: Unsung Hero of Irish New York, and Resident of MacDougal Street

Our neighborhoods are full of people who throughout our history have made remarkable contributions in philanthropy, business, culture, and helping immigrants. One figure who did all of the above, with a legacy still quite apparent today, but whose name is little known, is Dr. Robert Hogan. Hogan was a major figure in the city’s Irish community in the mid-19th century. President of the fraternal and benevolent society The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick (founded 1784) from 1839 to 1842, while in this position, Hogan participated in developing the Irish Emigrant Society, which developed and provided an abundance of resources to Irish immigrants. The organization not only transformed the experience of immigration from Ireland, but also played an integral role in strengthening the size and influence of the city’s Irish community. Hogan also helped organize the city’s early St. Patrick’s Day Parade. He and his family lived at 175 MacDougal Street, which still stands today, and owned the two buildings to the north stretching to Eighth Street.

175 MacDougal Street, 2019.

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2020 Village Awardee: Village Apothecary, 346 Bleecker Street

Each year, Village Preservation honors the invaluable people, businesses, and organizations that make a special contribution to our neighborhoods at our Annual Meeting and Village Awards. On June 17th, 2020 we will be celebrating nine outstanding awardees — RSVP here to participate virtually.

​In 1983, Michael Konnon — pharmacist, businessman, activist, and community leader — decided that his West Village neighborhood was desperately in need of a dedicated, independent community pharmacy. And so, Village Apothecary was born. This lovely Bleecker Street shop located at the southwest corner of West 10th Street is everything that a community pharmacy should be: a place to run into neighbors, a place to find all the essentials, and a place to really feel seen, heard, and cared for by the pharmacist. 

Just as New York City is the nation’s most diverse city, Village Apothecary takes great pride in employing the most diverse staff representing all different cultures, races, religions, genders, sexual orientations, gender identities, HIV status, and physical disabilities. The one thing that the entire staff has in common is that they are all proud New Yorkers who live in the city and want to serve their community. As a matter of fact, the pharmacy staff’s dedication cannot be underestimated; the pharmacy has remained open through snowstorms, blackouts, Superstorm Sandy, 9/11, and now, 2020’s COVID-19. It is this community dedication, and a truly robust history, that won our hearts — and our Village Award! 

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268-272 East 2nd Street: Over 150 Years of Service to the Public

Whenever a building is demolished, something is lost, even if the planned replacement is a worthy one. In the case of 268-272 East 2nd Street, currently a nondescript four-story building, one might never guess the outstanding century-and-a-half history of the property serving those in need in some pretty extraordinary ways from 1867 until today, with a stint as a coal depot to boot!  Although radically altered over its many years (and therefore not the best candidate for landmarking), this building between Avenue C and D has a surprisingly rich history. It is even referenced in Jacob Riis’ 1892 book, The Children of the Poor.  And so before it’s gone (as it seems it soon will be), we thought it important to tell its remarkable story.

Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy, The New York Public Library. “Manhattan: 2nd Street – Avenue C” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1920. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47dc-f56a-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

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2020 Village Awardee: Chess Forum, 219 Thompson Street

Each year, Village Preservation honors the invaluable people, businesses, and organizations that make a special contribution to our neighborhoods at our Annual Meeting and Village Awards. On June 17th, 2020 we will be celebrating nine outstanding awardees — RSVP here to participate virtually.

Chess Forum at 219 Thompson Street (West 3rd/Bleecker Streets) has been located in the heart of the “Chess District” of New York City, in our very own South Village, since it’s founding twenty-five years ago. Owner  and Palestinian immigrant from Lebanon Imad Khachan was an NYU PhD student in comparative religion in the 1990s when he was swept up into the world of chess. Enamored of the bohemian and cultural richness of the neighborhood, he felt that unique character was not complete without its chess scene.  As Imad said, Bob Dylan was on MacDougal Street, Bobby Fisher was in Washington Square Park, and Chess Forum is still on Thompson Street.

Photo with permission by GUDRUN GEORGES PHOTOGRAPHY  www.gudrungeorges.com

The store has been closed since March 20 but the website https://www.chessforum.com/ is open and taking orders as usual for both shipping by FEDEX or for no contact home delivery in Manhattan.

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Armand Hammer: Industrialist, Art Collector, Paradoxical Villager

183-185 West 4th Street, just east of Sheridan Square, Armand Hammer’s former residence.

Armand Hammer (May 21, 1898 — December 10, 1990), American industrialist most closely associated with Occidental Petroleum, was born on the Lower East Side to Russian immigrant parents and raised in the Bronx. He was, by all accounts, an eccentric person, prone to flights of extravagance and exaggeration, and well known for his art collection and philanthropy. An avid Jazz fan, his Greenwich Village home, which he used as a pied-à-terre and an ad-hoc art-storage facility, was in close proximity to the jazz clubs he loved to frequent.

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Why Isn’t This Landmarked?: 60 Fifth Avenue

Part of our blog series Why Isn’t This Landmarked?, where we look at buildings in our area we’re fighting to protect that are worthy of landmark designation but somehow aren’t.

60 Fifth Avenue, the former Macmillan Publishing Company Building/the former Forbes Building

60 Fifth Avenue (l.) ca.1926 and 2015.

This eight-story building on the northwest corner of 12th Street and Fifth Avenue is located just outside the Greenwich Village Historic District (the house directly to the west at 11 West 12th Street, and First Presbyterian Church located just across 12th Street, are both in the district and therefore landmarked).  The building was however listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places in 2006 based upon its significance to the history of commerce and its architecture. According to the listing, the former Macmillan Publishing Company Headquarters was built between 1923 and 1924 to be the new headquarters of the American branch of the prominent British publishing house. Macmillan grew from a small London bookstore founded in 1843 into one of England’s most important publishers. Its American branch, founded in 1869, eventually became the largest publisher in the United States. The American company hired the firm of Carrere & Hastings; Shreve Lamb & Blake to design their new headquarters building. Carrere & Hastings were nationally known for such major New York monuments as the New York Public Library at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, while Shreve Lamb & Harmon would design the Empire State Building. 60 Fifth Avenue combined streamlined Beaux-Arts detailing with steel-cage construction to help the commercial building fit into the residential precincts of lower Fifth Avenue, winning it an award from the Fifth Avenue Association.

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2020 Village Awardee: George Cominskie

Each year, Village Preservation honors the invaluable people, businesses, and organizations that make a special contribution to our neighborhoods at our Annual Meeting and Village Awards. On June 17th, 2020 we will be celebrating nine outstanding awardees at our— RSVP here to participate virtually.

George Cominskie is a beloved longtime West Village and Westbeth community activist, having lived in the latter since 1983. George was President of the Westbeth Artist Residents Council (WARC) from 1989 to 1992, from 2002 to 2010, and again from 2012 to 2018. Working with WARC and Village Preservation, George helped lead the charge for expanded landmark protections in the Far West Village, including of Westbeth, and to stop inappropriate development in the surrounding neighborhood.  George has been a tireless advocate for the residents and artists of Westbeth, and for keeping Westbeth a an affordable and well-functioning community.  Especially as Westbeth, which opened on May 19, 1970, celebrates its 50th anniversary, we are proud to honor George as a Village Awardee this year.

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