Business of the Month: Mikey Likes It Ice Cream, 199 Avenue A

Your input is needed! Today we feature our latest Business of the Month — help us to select the next.  Tell us which independent store you love in Greenwich Village, the East Village, or NoHo: click here to nominate your favorite.  Want to help support small businesses?  Share this post with friends.

You’ve got to like someone who opens up a shop in the same neighborhood they grew up in. And if you are so good at it that you get support from the New York Knicks and create custom flavors for professional athletes who seek out your down-to-earth yet artisanal and creatively-flavored ice cream, you may even possess some magic. The owner and namesake of Mikey’s Likes it Ice Cream at 199 Avenue A (12th/13th Streets) is that local entrepreneur, and his establishment is our  August Business of the Month.

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How One Building Turned Greenwich Village Into an Artists’ Mecca

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

Ever wonder what started Greenwich Village’s role as a mecca for artists?  A good deal of the credit can go to a single building which changed the way artists lived, worked, and interacted with one another and the world.

Bernice Abbott’s 1938 photo of the Tenth Street Studio Building. MCNY

The Tenth Street Studios building, located at 51 West 10th Street, was built in 1858.  The structure’s exclusive purpose was to house studios and living space for artists, according to several historians the very first such building ever built anywhere in the world. It was designed by Richard Morris Hunt (1827-1895), the great American architect who was also the first American to attend the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and became the center of the New York art world for decades after it was built.

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Welcome Aboard, Dawson Knick

Today we welcome aboard Dawson Knick, who will be taking over our Program and Administrative Associate position, replacing Laura Fleischmann. We are sad to see Laura go, but we wish her the best of luck with her new adventures. Dawson’s excited to continue his work with the Village Preservation team, assisting with member services, public programs, special projects, and many things in between.


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The Pepper Pot Inn, “The Realest Thing in Bohemian Atmosphere”

When searching through the chronicles of Greenwich Village history, some things almost seem too Village-y to be true, with all their quirky details and theatrical anecdotes. A prime example: The Pepper Pot Inn at 146 West 4th Street, a 1920s multi-level restaurant that became a sensation. Purchased in 1918 by Carlyle “Doc” Sherlock and his wife Viola, this spot came into being as the neighborhood surrounding Washington Square Park transitioned from affluent enclave to working-class territory and artists’ haven. Doc and Viola themselves tried to make it as actors on the big screen, but they soon left that world to become the owners of “the most popular eating place in the Village and a nation-wide destination.”

A view down West 4th Street east from 6th Avenue with The Pepper Pot’s big vertical sign and ads on neighboring buildings. Via http://daytoninmanhattan.blogspot.com.

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‘Catholic Boy’ Jim Carroll and The Downtown Scene

It’s rare to become a published poet by age 16, finding yourself praised by the some of the foremost Beatnik writers.  It’s even rarer when no less than Patti Smith says that by age 21 you were ‘pretty much universally recognized as the best poet” of your generation.  Add to that having your first album described by Rolling Stone as “a landmark of the New York punk scene,” and you couldn’t be talking about anyone but Jim Carroll, a figure who by the early 1970s was also very much entrenched in the East Village/Downtown New York scene, interacting with seminal figures in both the literary and art world.

Jim Carroll in Seattle in 2000

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More Historic Photo Mysteries Solved — Brownstone Revival and New York Apocalypse Edition

Where the heck are these?

Village Preservation has a collection of over 2,000 images in our Historic Image Archive, ranging from the 18th to the early 21st century, most of Lower Manhattan, but with some images across the five boroughs.  The majority were donated, and some come with absolutely no information about date or location.

We’ve managed to figure out the location of more than 80% of the images, but some mysteries remain.  We regularly put out calls for help, which sometimes lead to answers.

But some nagging mysteries remain unsolved.  Tantalizing clues in the images seem like they should lead to something, but sometimes every turn is a dead end.

Two such mysteries plagued us for several years.  But now, after many sleepless nights, we’re happy to report those mysteries have been solved.   And each one tells an interesting story of our city’s development over the last 200 years, and of the changes it has undergone in the last fifty. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Origins of Greenwich Village Historic District Street Names: Part IV

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.

The streets, parks, and squares of the Greenwich Village Historic District are named for a unique collection of historical figures. In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Greenwich Village Historic District (GVHD), we have developed a guide to how these locations got their names. Click here to read other posts about the origins of GVHD Street names.

Today we look at a few along the western edge of the neighborhood.

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John’s of The Village

No, this post is not about where to find public restrooms in the Village. It is, though, about a very important part of New York City’s culture: Italian cuisine. Italian Immigrants have made a lasting impact on both Greenwich Village and the East Village, both of which had significant Italian immigrant and Italian-American communities.  Many of those immigrants and second- and third-generation Americans constructed the historic buildings we cherish today. Many established restaurants and pizzerias that are still open. And a noteworthy a few of them were named John.

There’s John’s of Bleecker Street and John’s of 12th Street. They are not related. At one time, there were actually four different establishments that went by “John’s of…” John’s of 64th street, which closed in 2014, and Johns of Times Square, which has been open since 1997, do hold familial connections to the Johns of Bleecker. Johns of 12th Street and Johns of Bleecker both have unique histories, with commonalities and important differences.

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The East River Park’s Past and Future

In the 1930s, today’s East Village and Lower East Side, long the country’s most crowded and notorious slum, was being dramatically transformed. The nation’s first federally-subsidized public housing was being built. Immigration from Europe, once the neighborhood’s lifeblood, had been cut off by restrictive laws, though new laws granting citizenship to residents of Puerto Rico precipitated the beginnings of what would, in the post-WWII years, become a massive migration of residents from the island to this neighborhood. Tenements were being demolished to make way for widened streets and new subway lines running throughout the neighborhood. And a new, innovative park was being planned for this poor, immigrant neighborhood.

East River Park, shortly after its opening in 1939. Photo: nycurbanism

One of the most dramatic and lasting transformations of the neighborhood took place on July 27, 1939, when the first sections of the East River Park opened with great fanfare at an event presided over by Robert Moses and Mayor La Guardia.

The roughly 50-acre, 1.5 mile-long park, which stretches from 12th to Montgomery Streets, has served generations of locals. But after 80 years, it’s future is uncertain, as the City has decided to protect Lower Manhattan from rising sea levels and flooding by demolishing the current park and rebuilding it ten feet higher.

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The Pyramid Club: New York City’s First Drag Landmark

101 Avenue A is home to the Pyramid Club which became a launching point for pioneering drag superstars like Lady Bunny and RuPaul, setting in motion the contemporary drag movement. The club gave birth to the iconic drag festival, Wigstock, which liberated drag from gritty nightclubs, bringing it into the broad daylight. The Pyramid Club reigned supreme as the mecca of drag in the late 70s and 80s, also hosting up-and-coming musical artists like the Red Hot Chili Peppers & Nirvana. The Pyramid Club was brought back into the spotlight this year as a result of the release of the HBO documentary “Wig,” which debuted at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival.

Lady Bunny and RuPaul at the Pyramid Club, circa 1987. Image courtesy of Out.

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