In the 16th century, Native Americans referred to its farthest northwest corner, by the cove on the Hudson River at present-day Gansevoort Street, as Sapokanikan "tobacco field".
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In the s, Governor Wouter van Twiller farmed tobacco on acres 0. In , the eleven Dutch African settlers were freed after the first black legal protest in America. The earliest known reference to the village's name as "Greenwich" dates back to , in the will of Yellis Mandeville of Greenwich; however, the village was not mentioned in the city records until His house, which survived until the Civil War era , overlooked the North River from a bluff; its site on the block bounded by Perry and Charles Streets, Bleecker and West 4th Streets,  can still be recognized by its midth century rowhouses inserted into a neighborhood still retaining many houses of the —37 boom.
From  until ,  the bucolic village of Greenwich was the location of New York State's first penitentiary , Newgate Prison, on the Hudson River at what is now West 10th Street ,  near the Christopher Street pier. The oldest house remaining in Greenwich Village is the Isaacs-Hendricks House, at 77 Bedford Street built , much altered and enlarged , third story Luke in the Fields was founded in it stood in fields south of the road now Christopher Street that led from Greenwich Lane now Greenwich Avenue down to a landing on the North River.
In , a yellow fever epidemic in New York encouraged residents to flee to the healthier air of Greenwich Village, and afterwards many stayed. The future site of Washington Square was a potter's field from to when up to 20, of New York's poor were buried here, and still remain. The handsome Greek revival rowhouses on the north side of Washington Square were built about , establishing the fashion of Washington Square and lower Fifth Avenue for decades to come.
Well into the 19th century, the district of Washington Square was considered separate from Greenwich Village. Greenwich Village historically was known as an important landmark on the map of American bohemian culture in the early and midth century. The neighborhood was known for its colorful, artistic residents and the alternative culture they propagated.
Due in part to the progressive attitudes of many of its residents, the Village was 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 during the 19th century and continued into the 20th century, when small presses, art galleries, and experimental theater thrived.
Its innovative design soon represented a national architectural prototype, and featured a domed central gallery, from which interconnected rooms radiated. Hunt's studio within the building housed the first architectural school in the United States. Soon after its completion in , the building helped to make Greenwich Village central to the arts in New York City, drawing artists from all over the country to work, exhibit, and sell their art.
From the late 19th century until the present, the Hotel Albert has served as a cultural icon of Greenwich Village. Opened during the s and originally located at 11th Street and University Place, called the Hotel St. Stephan and then after , called the Hotel Albert while under the ownership of William Ryder, it served as a meeting place, restaurant and dwelling for several important artists and writers from the late 19th century well into the 20th century.
After , the owner's brother Albert Pinkham Ryder lived and painted there. Some other noted guests who lived there include: Augustus St. 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" on January 24, In , the Cherry Lane Theatre was established.
A landmark in Greenwich Village's cultural landscape, it was built as a farm silo in , and also served as a tobacco warehouse and box factory before Edna St. Vincent Millay and other members of the Provincetown Players converted the structure into a theatre they christened the Cherry Lane Playhouse, which opened on March 24, , with the play The Man Who Ate the Popomack. During the s The Living Theatre , Theatre of the Absurd , and the Downtown Theater movement all took root there, and it developed a reputation as a showcase for aspiring playwrights and emerging voices.
In one of the many Manhattan properties that Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney and her husband owned, Gertrude Whitney established the Whitney Studio Club at 8 West 8th Street in , as a facility where young artists could exhibit their works. The Whitney was founded in , as an answer to the Museum of Modern Art , founded , and its collection of mostly European modernism and its neglect of American Art. Gertrude Whitney decided to put the time and money into the museum after the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art turned down her offer to contribute her twenty-five-year collection of modern art works.
In , Hofmann moved again to a more permanent home at 52 West 8th Street. The school remained active until , when Hofmann retired from teaching. Dunn , Andrew Sheridan and Danny Gentile in front of his apartment. Before he died on January 29, he told his wife that "Johnny Dunn shot me. Sheridan and Dunn were executed. Notable performers there included: The annual Greenwich Village Halloween Parade , initiated in by Greenwich Village puppeteer and mask maker Ralph Lee, is the world's largest Halloween parade and America's only major nighttime parade, attracting more than 60, costumed participants, two million in-person spectators, and a worldwide television audience of over million.
Greenwich Village again became important to the Bohemian scene during the s, 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 and the Beatniks , moved to Greenwich Village, and to North Beach in San Francisco , in many ways creating the U. Off-Off-Broadway began in Greenwich Village in as a reaction to Off Broadway , and a "complete rejection of commercial theatre".
The Village had a cutting-edge cabaret and music scene. Greenwich Village also played a major role in the development of the folk music scene of the s. Guitarist and folk singer Dave Van Ronk lived there for many years.
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Village resident and cultural icon Bob Dylan by the mids had become one of the world's foremost popular songwriters, and often developments in Greenwich Village would influence the simultaneously occurring folk rock movement in San Francisco and elsewhere, and vice versa. The Greenwich Village of the s and s was at the center of Jane Jacobs 's book The Death and Life of Great American Cities , which defended it and similar communities, while criticizing common urban renewal policies of the time. Officially opened September 23, , the school is still active, at 8 W. Greenwich Village was home to a safe house used by the radical anti-war movement known as the Weather Underground.
On March 6, , their safehouse was destroyed when an explosive device they were constructing was accidentally detonated, killing three of their members Ted Gold , Terry Robbins , and Diana Oughton. The Village has been a center for movements that challenged the wider American culture, for example, its role in the gay liberation movement.
The Stonewall riots were a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the gay community against a police raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, , at the Stonewall Inn , 53 Christopher Street. Considered together, the demonstrations are widely considered to constitute the single most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for LGBT rights in the United States. In , the Village was the scene of an assault involving seven lesbians and a straight man that sparked appreciable media attention, with strong statements defending both sides of the case.
Since end of the twentieth century, many artists and local historians have mourned the fact that the bohemian days of Greenwich Village are long gone, because of the extraordinarily high housing costs in the neighborhood. 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.
Historically, local residents and preservation groups have been concerned about development in the Village and have fought to preserve its architectural and historic integrity. In the s, Margot Gayle led a group of citizens to preserve the Jefferson Market Courthouse later reused as Jefferson Market Library  while other citizen groups fought to keep traffic out of Washington Square Park,  and Jane Jacobs , using the Village as an example of a vibrant urban community, advocated to keep it that way.
Since then, preservation has been a part of the Village ethos. In , the LPC designated the Greenwich Village Historic District — for four decades, the city's largest — despite preservationists' advocacy for the entire neighborhood to be designated an historic district. Advocates continued to pursue their goal of additional designation, spurred in particular by the increased pace of development in the s. The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation GVSHP , a nonprofit organization dedicated to the architectural and cultural character and heritage of the neighborhood, successfully proposed new districts and individual landmarks to the LPC.
Those include: Pei and including the Picasso sculpture "Portrait of Sylvette," designated in ;  and three early 19th-century federal houses at , and MacDougal Street. Several contextual rezonings were enacted in Greenwich Village in recent years to limit the size and height of allowable new development in the neighborhood, and to encourage the preservation of existing buildings.
New York University and Greenwich Village preservationists have been embroiled in a conflict over campus expansion versus preservation of the scale and Bohemian character of the Village. As one press critic put it in , "For decades, New York University has waged architectural war on Greenwich Village. Ann's Church at East Twelfth Street, which advocates protested as being out of scale for the low-rise area, and received assurances from NYU, which then built all 26 stories anyway;  and the demolition in of the Provincetown Playhouse and Apartments, over protests.
Covering an area of The racial makeup of the neighborhood was Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6. Greenwich Village includes several collegiate institutions. In Yeshiva University established the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in the northern part of Greenwich Village.
Mark's Place on the border of the East Village. The university campus building expansion was followed by a gentrification process in the s. The historic Washington Square Park is the center and heart of the neighborhood. Additionally, the Village has several other, smaller parks: John A. Seravelli, and William Passannante Ballfield. The Cage has become one of the most important tournament sites for the citywide " Streetball " amateur basketball tournament. The Grey Art Gallery is notable for its museum-quality exhibitions of contemporary art.
The Village has a bustling performing arts scene. The Village Gate until , the Village Vanguard and The Blue Note are still presenting some of the biggest names in jazz on a regular basis. The village has its own orchestra aptly named the Greenwich Village Orchestra. Comedy clubs dot the Village as well, including Comedy Cellar , where many American stand-up comedians got their start.
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