Greenwich Village

Greenwich Village

Greenwich Village (pronEng|ˌgrɛnɪtʃ ˈvɪlɪ), often simply called the Village, is a largely residential area on the west side of downtown (southern) Manhattan in New York City named seemingly after Greenwich, London, England. However, it was called "Noortwijck" or "Greenwijck" by the Dutch founders before the British takeover, so "Greenwich" is probably a mispronunciation of the older name. A large majority of this district is home to upper middle class families. Greenwich Village was historically noted as the internationally reputed bohemian capital, and the birthplace of the Beat Movement. Ironically, what provided the initial attractive character of the community eventually contributed to its gentrification and excessive commercialization.cite news | last =Costic | first =Robert S. | title =Is gentrification good for the poor? | work =Perspectives | publisher =American Jurist | date =2004-04-29 | url = | accessdate = 2007-12-02] Citation | last =Strenberg | first =Adam | title =Embers of Gentrification | newspaper =New York Magazine | pages =5 | date = 2007-11-12 | url =]


The neighborhood is bounded by Broadway on the east, the Hudson River on the west, Houston Street on the south, and 14th Street on the north. The neighborhoods surrounding it are the East Village to the east, SoHo to the south, and Chelsea to the north. The East Village was formerly considered part of the Lower East Side and never associated with Greenwich Village. [ F.Y.I.] , "When did the East Village become the East Village and stop being part of the Lower East Side?", Jesse McKinley, "New York Times", June 1, 1995; accessed August 26, 2008.] The West Village is the part of Greenwich Village west of 7th Avenue, though realtors say the dividing line is 6th Avenue.

Greenwich Village was better known as Washington Squarendash based on the major landmark Washington Square Park [cite web|publisher=The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation|url=|title=Village History|accessdate=2008-01-05] or Empire Wardcite book|last=Harris|first=Luther S.|title=Around Washington Square: An Illustrated History of Greenwich Village|publisher=Johns Hopkins University Press|date=2003|location=Baltimore|isbn=978-080187341-6] in the 19th century.

It should be noted that Encyclopedia Britannica's 1956 article on "New York (City)" (subheading "Greenwich Village") states that the southern border of the Village is Spring Street. But currently, according to Landmark Preservation maps of New York City, [ [ Landmark Maps: Historic District Maps: Manhattan ] ] the Village's erratic borders go no farther south than 4th Street or St. Luke's Place, and no farther east than Washington Square East or University Place. Consequently, the newer historic districts of SoHo and NoHo encroach on the Village's historic borders.


As Greenwich Village was once a rural hamlet, entirely separate from New York, its street layout does not coincide with most of Manhattan's more formal grid plan (based on the Commissioners' Plan of 1811). Greenwich Village was allowed to keep its street pattern in areas west of Greenwich Lane (now Greenwich Avenue) and Sixth Avenue that were already built up when the plan was implemented, which has resulted in a neighborhood whose streets are dramatically different, in layout, from the ordered structure of newer parts of town. Many of the neighborhood's streets are narrow and some curve at odd angles. Additionally, unlike most of Manhattan above Houston St, streets in the Village typically are named rather than numbered. While some of the formerly named streets (including Factory, Herring and Amity Streets) are now numbered, even they do not always conform to the usual grid pattern when they enter the neighborhood. For example, West 4th Street, which runs east-west outside of the Village, turns and runs north, crossing West 10th, 11th, 12th, and 13th Streets.

A large section of Greenwich Village, made up of more than 50 northern and western blocks in the area up to 14th Street, is considered part of a Historic District by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. Redevelopment in that area is severely restricted, and developers must preserve the main facade and aesthetics of the buildings even during renovation. Most parts of Greenwich Village comprise mid-rise apartments, 19th-century row houses and the occasional one-family walk-up, a sharp contrast to the hi-rise landscape in Mid- and Downtown Manhattan.


Greenwich Village is located on what was once marshland. In the 16th century Native Americans referred to it as Sapokanikan ("tobacco field" (nikan is the root of the English word nicotine) ). The land was cleared and turned into pasture by Dutch settlers in the 1630s who named their settlement Noortwyck. The English conquered the Dutch settlement of New Netherland in 1664 and Greenwich Village developed as a hamlet separate from the larger (and fast-growing) New York City to the south. It officially became a village in 1712 and is first referred to as Grin'wich in 1713 Common Council records. In 1822, a yellow fever epidemic in New York encouraged residents to flee to the healthier air of Greenwich Village, and afterwards many stayed.

Greenwich Village is generally known as an important landmark on the map of bohemian culture. The neighborhood is known for its colorful, artistic residents and the alternative culture they propagate. Due in part to the progressive attitudes of many of its residents, the Village has traditionally been a focal point of new movements and ideas, whether political, artistic, or cultural. This tradition as an enclave of avant-garde and alternative culture was established by the beginning of the 20th century when small presses, art galleries, and experimental theater thrived.

During the golden age of bohemianism, Greenwich Village became famous for such eccentrics as Joe Gould (profiled at length by Joseph Mitchell) and Maxwell Bodenheim, the dancer Isadora Duncan, as well as greats on the order of Eugene O'Neill. Political rebellion also made its home here, whether serious (John Reed) or frivolous (Marcel Duchamp and friends set off balloons from atop Washington Square arch, proclaiming the founding of "The Independent Republic of Greenwich Village"). In Christmas 1949, The Weavers played at the Village Vanguard.

The Village again became important to the bohemian scene during the 1950s, when the Beat Generation focused their energies there. Fleeing from what they saw as oppressive social conformity, a loose collection of writers, poets, artists, and students (later known as the Beats) moved to Greenwich Village, in many ways creating the East-Coast predecessor to the Haight-Ashbury hippie scene of the next decade. The Village (and surrounding New York City) would later play central roles in the writings of, among others, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, and Dylan Thomas, who collapsed while drinking at the White Horse Tavern on November 9, 1953.

Greenwich Village played a major role in the development of the folk music scene of the 1960s. Three of the four members of The Mamas and the Papas met there. Guitarist and folk singer Dave Van Ronk lived there for many years. Village resident Bob Dylan was one of the foremost popular songwriters in the country, and often developments in New York City would influence the simultaneously occurring folk rock movement in San Francisco, and vice versa. Dozens of other cultural and popular icons got their start in the Village's nightclub, theater, and coffeehouse scene during the 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s, notably Barbra Streisand, Peter, Paul, and Mary, Simon and Garfunkel, Jackson Browne, Eric Andersen, Joan Baez, The Velvet Underground, Richie Havens, Maria Muldaur, Tom Paxton, Phil Ochs, Jimi Hendrix and Nina Simone. The Greenwich Village of the 1950s and 1960s was at the center of Jane Jacobs's book "The Death and Life of Great American Cities", which defended it and similar communities, while critiquing common urban renewal policies of the time.

Greenwich Village was also home to one of the many safe houses used by the radical anti-war movement known as the Weather Underground. On March 6, 1970, however, their safehouse was destroyed when an explosive they were constructing was accidentally detonated, costing three Weathermen (Ted Gold, Terry Robbins, and Diana Oughton) their lives.

In recent days, the Village has maintained its role as a center for movements which have challenged the wider American culture: for example, its role in the gay liberation movement. It contains Christopher Street and the Stonewall Inn, important landmarks, as well as the world's oldest gay and lesbian bookstore, Oscar Wilde Bookshop, founded in 1967.

"See also "

Since the 1960s

Currently, artists and local historians bemoan the fact that the bohemian days of Greenwich Village are long gone, because of the extraordinarily high housing costs in the neighborhood.Citation | last =Roberts | first =Rex| title =When Greenwich Village was a Bohemian paradise | newspaper = Insight on the News | date =2002-07-29 | url =] cite news | last =Harris | first =Paul | title =New York's heart loses its beat | work =Arts| publisher =Guardian Unlimited | date =2005-08-14 | url =,11711,1548962,00.html | accessdate = 2007-12-02] Citation | last = Kugelmass | first = Jack | title = "The Fun Is in Dressing up": The Greenwich Village Halloween Parade and the Reimagining of Urban Space | journal = Social Text | volume = 36 | pages = 138–152 | date = Autumn 1993 | doi =10.2307/466393] Citation | last =Lydersen | first =Kari | title = SHAME OF THE CITIES: Gentrification in the New Urban America | newspaper =LiP Magazine | date =1999-03-15 | url =] cite news | last =Desloovere | first = Hesper | title = City Living: Greenwich Village | work =New York City | publisher = Newsday | date =2007-11-15 | url =,0,4295838.story | accessdate = 2007-12-02] cite journal | last =Fieldsteel | first =Patricia | title =Remembering a time when the Village was affordable | journal =The Villager | volume =75 | issue =22 | publisher = Community Media LLC | location= New York | date = 2005-10-19 | url =] The artists have fled to first to SoHo then to TriBeCa and finally Williamsburg and BushwickFact|date=December 2007 in Brooklyn, Long Island City, and DUMBO.Fact|date=December 2007 Nevertheless, residents of Greenwich Village still possess a strong community identity and are proud of their neighborhood's unique history and fame, and its well-known liberal live-and-let-live attitudes. Indeed, its cultural uniqueness and apartness are felt so strongly, and so many of its residents' lives are so locally focused, that it is sometimes said thereabouts that "upstate" New York is anywhere north of 14th Street.Fact|date=December 2007

Greenwich Village is now home to many celebrities, including actresses/actors Julianne Moore, Liv Tyler, Uma Thurman, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Leontyne Price, Amy Sedaris, and Barbara Pierce Bush, the daughter of U.S. President George W. Bush; Thurman and Bush both live on West Ninth Street. [cite news|title=Secure Location|publisher=New York Post|url=|date=2006-09-11] Alt-country/folk musician Steve Earle moved to the neighborhood in 2005, [cite news|last=Seabrook|first=John|title=Transplant| publisher=The New Yorker|date=June 11, 2007|url=] and his album "Washington Square Serenade" is primarily about his experiences in the Village. The Village also serves as home to Anna Wintour, the imperial editor-in-chief of Vogue Magazine.

Greenwich Village includes the primary campus for New York University (NYU), The New School, and Yeshiva University's Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. The Cooper Union is also located in Greenwich Village, at Astor Place, near St. Mark's Place on the border of the East Village.

The historic Washington Square Park is the center and heart of the neighborhood, but the Village has several other, smaller parks: Father Fagan, Minetta Triangle, Petrosino Square, Little Red Square, and Time Landscape. There are also city playgrounds, including Desalvio, Minetta, Thompson Street, Bleecker Street, Downing Street, Mercer Street, and William Passannante Ballfield. Perhaps the most famous, though, is "The Cage", officially known as the West 4th Street Courts. Sitting on top of the West Fourth Street–Washington Square subway station at Sixth Avenue, the courts are easily accessible to basketball and American handball players from all over New York. The Cage has become one of the most important tournament sites for the city-wide "Streetball" amateur basketball tournament.

The Village also has a bustling performing arts scene. It is home to many Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway theaters; for instance, Blue Man Group has taken up residence in the Astor Place Theater. The Village Vanguard and The Blue Note hosts some of the biggest names in jazz on a regular basis, while a plethora of lower profile clubs arguably keep Greenwich Village the underground jazz epicenter of New York City. Other music clubs include The Bitter End, Cafe Wha? and Lion's Den. The village also has its own orchestra aptly named the Greenwich Village Orchestra. Comedy clubs dot the Village as well, including The Boston and Comedy Cellar, where many American stand-up comedians got their start.

Each year on October 31, it is home to New York's Village Halloween Parade, a mile-long ad hoc pageant of masqueraders, mummers, drag queens, exhibitionists, drunkards, druggies, puppets and pets that draws an audience of two million from throughout the region, the largest Halloween event in the country. The delighted and high-spirited throngs include everyone from the smallest children dressed in the simplest homemade or store-bought costumes on up to adults bedecked in the most elaborate and ingenious guises and disguises that professional and amateur costume designers and makeup artists can conceive and create with a year's notice.

Several publications have offices in the Village, most notably the newsweekly "The Village Voice"

Sullivan St. was home to Genovese crime family godfather Vincent "The Chin" Gigante. Born and raised in the Village he would spend most of his adult life there. [ [ Vincent Gigante, Mafia Leader Who Feigned Insanity, Dies at 77] , by Selwyn Raab, The New York Times, December 19, 2005] Shortly before his death in federal prison, he told a fellow inmate: "Greenwich Village is the greatest place in the U.S." [cite news|title=This Bud's For Who?|url=||author=Jerry Capeci|date=December 22, 2005]

In fiction and drama

*The 1994–2004 NBC sitcom "Friends" is set in the Village (Central Perk was apparently on Mercer or Houston Street, down the block from the Angelika Film Center, [The Angelika Film Center was said to be "up the block" from Central Perk in "The One Where Ross Hugs Rachel", the sixth season's second episode, placing the coffee house on Mercer Street or Houston.] and Phoebe lived at 5 Morton Street [This address was given "The One With All The Kissing", the fifth season's second episode.] ), though it was filmed and produced in Burbank, California. The exterior shot of Chandler, Joey, Rachel, and Monica's apartment building is actually located at the corner of Grove Street and Bedford Street in the West Village.Fact|date=January 2008 One of the working titles of "Friends" was "Once Upon a Time in the West Village".
*In the 1967 Audrey Hepburn movie "Wait Until Dark", the main character, Susy, lives in an apartment located at 4 St. Luke's Place in Greenwich Village.Fact|date=January 2008
*The short story "The Last Leaf" by O'Henry is entirely set in Greenwich Village.
*In the Marvel Comics universe, Master of the Mystic Arts and Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Strange, lives in a brownstone mansion in Greenwich Village. Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum is located at 177A Bleecker Street.
* In the musical comedy, "Wonderful Town", the main characters, Ruth and Eileen Sherwood, move from Columbus, Ohio to Greenwich Village to pursue their dreams. The apartment that they move into is located on Christopher Street.
*The building used for exterior shots of Carrie Bradshaw's apartment in "Sex and the City" is located at 66 Perry St (even though her address in the series is the fictional address of 245 East 73rd Street on the Upper East Side).
*The 1984 Mickey Rourke film "The Pope of Greenwich Village" centers on a restaurant maître d' in the Italian section of the Village.


Greenwich Village residents are zoned to schools in the New York City Department of Education.

Residents are jointly zoned to two elementary schools: P.S. 3 Melser Charrette School and P.S. 41 Greenwich Village school. Residents are zoned to Simon Baruch Middle School 104.

Residents must apply to New York City high schools.

Notable residents

Many notable individuals have resided in Greenwich Village, including many artists and political figures. see also|Category:People from Greenwich Village, New York
* Eric Andersen
* Virginia Admiral
* Joan Baez
* Richard Barone
* Albert Bierstadt
* Rory Block
* David Blue
* Lenny Bruce
* Guido Bruno
* Jeff Buckley
* Gisele Bündchen
* Barbara Pierce Bush
* Yancy Butler
* Red Buttons
* Willa Cather
* William Merritt Chase
* Joe Cino
* Gregory Corso
* Hart Crane
* e e cummings
* Dorothy Day
* Elaine de Kooning
* Willem de Kooning
* Robert De Niro, Sr.
* Marcel Duchamp
* Bob Dylan
* Max Eastman
* Floyd Dell
* Richard Fariña
* Vincent Gigante
* Allen Ginsberg
* Jim Glover
* Jimi Hendrix
* Abbie Hoffman
* Hans Hofmann
* Edward Hopper
* Jane Jacobs
* Henry James
* Jim and Jean
* John Taylor Johnston
* Jack Kerouac
* Franz Kline
* Paul Krassner
* Stanley Kubrick
* Tuli Kupferberg
* John LaFarge
* Amel Larrieux
* Heath Ledger
* John Lennon
* Annie Liebowitz
* Fran Lebowitz
* Robert Lopez
* Mabel Dodge Luhan
* Fred W. McDarrah
* Edna St. Vincent Millay
* Dorothy Canning Miller
* Robert Motherwell
* Maria Muldaur
* Isamu Noguchi
* Phil Ochs
* Odetta
* Frank O'Hara
* Eugene O'Neill
* Yoko Ono
* Jerry Orbach
* Thomas Paine
* Gwyneth Paltrow
* Sarah Jessica Parker
* Tom Paxton
* Michael Penn
* Peter, Paul and Mary
* Edgar Allan Poe
* Jackson Pollock
* James Stewart Polshek
* Leontyne Price
* John Reed (journalist)
* Lou Reed
* Romany Marie
* Hugh Romney aka Wavy Gravy
* Albert Pinkham Ryder
* Margaret Sanger
* Delmore Schwartz
* Amy Sedaris
* Pete Seeger
* Steven Strait
* Kiefer Sutherland
* Quentin Tarantino
* Chris Thile
* Uma Thurman
* Kathleen Turner
* Liv Tyler
* Harry Everett Smith
* Dave Van Ronk
* Suze Rotolo
* Edgard Varèse
* Diane von Furstenberg
* Paul Waaktaar-Savoy
* Derek Walcott
* Catherine Warren
* Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney
* Anna Wintour
* Fred Weintraub
* Thomas Wolfe
* Izzy Young

See also

* Beat Movement
* Cedar Tavern
* Christopher Street, Manhattan
* Gay Street, Manhattan
* The Village Voice
* East Village
* New York's Village Halloween Parade
* The Church of the Ascension
* Village Care of New York
* Village Vanguard

Notes and references

External links

* [ Essays on Chelsea Hotel, Iggy Pop, Beat Generaton]
* [ Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation]
* [ Village Voice]
* [ Official Tourist map (controversially showing Greenwich Village to include the East Village]
* [ Greenwich Village Historic District] - map from the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission
* [ Greenwich Village] , by Anna Alice Chapin, 1919, from Project Gutenberg

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