05 December, 2016

Greenwich Village stories from Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation edited by Judith Stonehill

‘The Village’ is a neighbourhood on the west side of Manhattan, New York City and for years I’ve been catching glimpses of the place and the colourful, eccentric characters who have lived there via various books and movies.
A Bohemian haven, home to the Beat Generation and the sixties counterculture and now part of a Historic District, it consists of more than fifty blocks. Most of the buildings are mid-rise apartments, 19th century row houses and the occasional one-family walk-up. A sharp contrast to the high-rises of Mid and Downtown Manhattan. The oldest house was built in 1799.
This almost mythical place is brought to life through a collection of short individual reminiscences interspersed with numerous photographs and paintings. It makes fascinating reading.
Artists, musicians and writers were attracted to Greenwich village when the rents were low and you could get a large loft with views for $40.00 a month. The list of well- known names peppered throughout is endless - Wynton Marsalis, Bob Dylan, Barbara Streisand, Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Pete Seeger, Bill Murray, Donna Karan, Dustin Hoffman, Lillian Hellman, Allen Ginsberg, Marcel Duchamp, Dylan Thomas - to name just a few.
I particularly loved hearing about the amazing stores and eateries that have long since disappeared like the first Eighth Street Bookshop which helped establish the Beats and was destroyed by arson in 1976. Bakeries, jewellers, record shops, delis, diners and nightclubs, dance and art schools all contributed to the magic of the neighbourhood.
A lot of the old buildings have gone but thank goodness redevelopment there is now severely restricted.

Title: Greenwich Village Stories
AuthorGreenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation edited by Judith Stonehill

Reviewed by Claire S, Central Library, Information Services.

Claire S reads a wide variety. Biographies/art/New Zealand are all favourite topics.

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