South Village Historic District Proposal Submitted to LPC
At the end of December, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation submitted an 80-page report to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) proposing the designation of a South Village Historic District (click here for more information). This 40-block area south of Washington Square Park was entirely left out of the Greenwich Village Historic District in 1969, leaving its incredible architecture and cultural history vulnerable to compromise and loss. The South Village was long the cradle of Greenwich Village’s Italian-immigrant community, and contains perhaps the most impressive array of intact late-19th and early-20th century tenements anywhere in the world. Its converted rowhouses, off-Broadway theaters, reform-housing, and religious, social, and charitable institutions vividly reflect its history as a working-class neighborhood from New York’s last great wave of immigration.
The South Village was also long the scene of some of the most important counter-cultural movements, institutions, and events in our city and our country’s history, as well as having served as the center of New York’s African-American community in the mid-19th century and its gay community in the first decades of the 20th century. While the South Village’s unconventional charm, working-class architecture, and immigrant history may not have been deemed worthy of landmark designation in 1969, we feel it’s critical that these characteristics now be recognized, honored, and preserved. Read the remarkable report by renowned architectural historian Andrew Dolkart and commissioned by GVSHP on the history of the South Village.
GVSHP spent four years documenting the history of every one of the nearly 800 buildings in this 40-block area in order to lay the groundwork for our proposal (click here for a summary of the history of each building in the proposed district). Click here for an on-line “virtual tour” of the South Village.
GVSHP has formed an Advisory Board to help steer and support this effort, representing a broad cross-section of neighborhood leaders, merchants, property owners, academics, and scholars of Italian-American history. The effort has already received extremely positive front-page coverage in this week’s Villager, as well as editorial page support.
While GVSHP builds support and momentum for this ambitious proposal, we are urging the LPC to act immediately to protect immediately endangered buildings. GVSHP has asked the LPC to landmark the former Greenwich Village Fire Patrol House at 84 West 3rd Street and the three early 19th century buildings at 233-237 Bleecker Street. Thank you to State Senator Tom Duane for his support for landmarking 84 West 3rd Street.
We expect to spend much of this year advocating and educating around this project; we will keep you informed of upcoming events and ways to get involved.