Protecting the South Village
What is the South Village?
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At the end of 2006, GVSHP submitted a proposal to the City for landmark designation of the South Village, the largely unprotected area south of Washington Square Park and West 4th Street, and officially launched our Historic South Village Preservation Project.
After four years of exhaustive research on this 40-block area, GVSHP commissioned a report by renowned architectural historian Andrew Dolkart on the history and architecture of the South Village, supporting our argument for landmark protections for the area. The report and proposal document the South Village’s unique historic significance as an archetypal immigrant community and as a crucial stepping-stone for Italians in America; as a laboratory of working-class architecture and an intact vestige of turn-of-the-last century New York; as the site of important cultural innovations and events; and as an important location in the history of New York’s African-American and lesbian and gay communities.
Believe it or not, GVSHP’s proposed South Village Historic District would, if designated, be the first such district in New York City to honor immigrant history and architecture. In fact, streets like Bleecker, Carmine, MacDougal and Sullivan, whose colorful buildings and lively shops and cafes many consider the heart of the Village, were likely excluded from the original Greenwich Village Historic District in 1969 because at the time tenements and working-class architecture were perceived by many as unworthy of historic preservation. With this proposal, we seek to change that perception, not only for the South Village, but beyond.
GVSHP has formed an advisory board made up of local institutions, block associations, community leaders, property owners, merchants, architectural historians, and scholars of Italian-American history to help guide and support this project. In addition to the landmark proposal, GVSHP is also undertaking educational programming to document and showcase the incredible and compelling history of this too-long-overlooked area.
With increasing pressure for change, it’s more important than ever that the South Village’s history be documented and honored and its wonderful architecture be preserved. We anticipate our South Village project, which will be an enormous new undertaking, being a major focus of GVSHP’s activities over the next several years.
GVSHP’s South Village landmark report was funded by Preserve New York, a grant program of the Preservation League of New York State and the New York State Council on the Arts. Funding for educational programming and research on the South Village was funded in part by the J.M. Kaplan Fund, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Councilmember Alan Gerson, State Senator Tom Duane, Assemblymember Deborah Glick, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York State Department of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation.
Proposed South Village Historic District
Area GVSHP has asked the Landmarks Preservation Commission to landmark, an area long considered the heart of Greenwich Village.