The Early 20th Century (1900-1950)

Research Team:

Caitlyn Hahn.
Cassie Brewer
Catriona Schlosser
Brenann Sutter
Scott Young
Norma Jean Garriton


Cassie Brewer:
At the beginning of the 20th century, Greenwich Village was at a turning point. The area surrounding Washington Square Park had previously been home to the elite of the city; however, the cultural climate was changing. Increase in immigration to the area in the late 19th century lead to the formation of Italian and Irish enclaves to the west and south of the park, with the upper-class remaining on the north side. With the wave of immigration came a boom in building; development was on the rise, and Greenwich Village was rapidly changing. In 1903-1904 alone nearly 1,200 new apartments were constructed, as opposed to the average of 250 for the few years preceding that.1 Along with the residential growth came an increase in commercial expansion. More and more factories were opening on the east and west borders of the park, further changing the landscape of the village.2

Not only was Greenwich Village physically growing and changing, but the social atmosphere was shifting. The village was on its way to becoming a center for some of the century’s most important social and cultural movements. Settlement houses, community forums and organizations were founded and flourished in Greenwich Village in the first decade of the 20th century; and would become the foundation and support of many later social movements. Society was changing, and Greenwich Village was at the forefront, fostering social movements as well as cultural and artistic activity.
The late 19th century development of tenement sections had a direct impact on the formation of settlements in Greenwich Village. There was an increasing amount of interest from the upper and middle-class in the conditions of the poor and working-class areas of the city, and the social issues that resulted from growing industrialism.3. Settlements were not unique to New York City, but many major settlements did their work in Greenwich Village. Upper and middle class settlement workers were, for the most part, both wealthy and educated, often at the college level and had an educational interest in the working class – both to educate themselves on urban conditions and to educate workers.4 They essentially gave up their privileged status to move into ‘slum’ districts to tackle social issues and improve the relationship between the working and upper-classes. In Greenwich Village, settlement houses’ main focus would be on the immigrant communities; on improving their conditions as well as promoting kinship between the often isolated ethnic groups.

Within two years, two settlements opened in the village; University Settlement’s West Side Branch in 1900 followed by Greenwich House in 1902. Already established, University Settlement had a clear mission: to educate immigrant workers and guide them in transitioning from unskilled jobs to adopting a trade.5 The West Side Branch immediately took on the role of providing services to the surrounding community, including a kindergarten program, children’s clubs and a small circulating library. West Side Branch’s programs for children proved to be immediately popular; by 1901 thirty students were enrolled in the kindergarten and nearly five-hundred were a part of one of the house’s clubs. Their encouragement of learning, whether it be academic, artistic or practical is represented in the classes they offered, ranging from dance and music classes to debate classes.6

In addition to providing services, settlement house workers still very much wanted to study the conditions of tenement living and factory working in hopes of effecting change. Mary Simkhovitch was one settlement worker who felt strongly about the need for change, especially in regards to the effects of congestion, disease and unsafe working conditions on tenement residents. Simkhovitch was a strong proponent of the need to fully participate in the lives of those people she wanted to help. She felt social improvements could not happen simply by charitable efforts; and that it was necessary to bridge the gap between classes to make any lasting changes.7 In 1902, Simkhovitvh moved from settlement worker to settlement house founder when she opened the doors to Greenwich House at 26 Jones Street in 1902. Upon opening, Simkhovitch outlined the focus of Greenwich House, which was based on three pillars: sociability, services and surveys.8 Greenwich House provided similar services as the West Side Branch, with art, cooking and academic classes as well as children’s classes. They also had a ‘penny bank’ service that accepted sums too small to be deposited in a regular bank and encouraged practical savings habits. Neighbors could also take advantage of the twice-weekly hot meals offered by the settlement.9

Staying true to her original mission, Simkhovitch and Greenwich House conducted surveys on the living and working conditions of the people the settlement served. Simkhovitch herself had a role in surveying, and in 1909 went on to give a speech at the First National Conference on City Planning in Washington D.C. on the topic of congestion as a major problem in New York City, and specifically in Greenwich Village.10 Other surveys, conducted between 1902 and 1903 focused on the village exclusively. One survey, conducted by Louise Bolard More, Wage-earners' budgets: a study of standards and cost of living in New York City analyzed the incomes and expenses of two hundred village families, reporting statistics on their condition.11 Detailing the lives of twelve of the two hundred families, More gave faces to the largely invisible working class of Greenwich Village and shed light on the diversity of both the community and the issues plaguing them.

On the heels of the emergence of settlement houses was the creation of several community organizations aimed at bringing together village residents. At this point, it is clear that Greenwich Village is moving towards a new era of progressive movements. The overlap between settlement houses and organizations paired with the growth of community efforts is representative of the move towards social reform that was happening on a larger scale both in the village and in the city. Much like settlement houses, these organizations promoted gaining a better sense of community. Simkhovitch, clearly dedicated to her mission of increasing sociability, was also instrumental in the creation of other community organizations. In 1903, Simkhovitch helped to form the Greenwich Village Improvement Society whose purpose was to gain diverse membership and form common bonds over a shared ‘villager’ identity, while together advocating for neighborhood-wide improvements.12 Interestingly, the small group of upper-class residents living along the northern border of Washington Square Park formed the Washington Square Association in 1907 with a similar mission to that of the Improvement Society. They sought to “maintain and improve the character of the neighborhood.” However noble their undertaking seemed, they were in opposition with their working class neighbors. This patrician organization wanted to secure control of the neighborhood, largely focusing on the park itself, for fear it was becoming more of a playground than a park.13. Their motives did not hinder the growth of the more diverse GVIP, which gained popularity in the next decade.

The other major community project at this time was the community forum at the Church of the Ascension. Members of the church were mainly upper-class villagers, however, in 1907 the church began opening on Sunday nights and welcoming in all villagers, regardless of wealth or religious affiliation.14. Each forum would begin with a short prayer service followed by a lecture and discussion. Since the forum was a community one and not a religious one, the topics discussed were representative of what was on the mind of villagers at the time. They spoke of unemployment and money problems – as the forum’s busy years were during an economic depression- socialism and labor conditions. The Reverend at the time, Percy Stickney Grant, proposed the idea for the forum in 1907, stating many of the same motivations as settlement leaders like Simkhovitch. Grant felt strongly about the need to try to lessen the class gap and form alliances with community members regardless of class, ethnicity or religion. Free discussion was encouraged at the forum, which was in line with Simkhovitch’s stress of the importance of sociability. As all of these institutions grew, Greenwich Village as a community became more defined and a foundation for later community support, in labor and women’s struggles particularly, was forming.

Norma Jean Garriton
In the last decade of the 1800s, there is a steady rise in Jewish and Italian immigrants arriving in the Lower East Side, which happens simultaneously and in conjunction with the growing garment industry. Immigration patterns show a steep incline in migration from eastern and southern Europe, with families establishing permanent roots in America, particularly in Greenwich Village, and becoming apart of the workforce. As factory-style production takes hold in the area, young female members of these immigrant families were hired in increasing numbers because compared to men, they worked for less pay and were less likely to unionize. By the end of 1910, women totaled 85 percent of the workforce in New York City.15

The first decade of the 1900s showed a rise in factory production, as a faster and easier means of fabrication. Factories enabled the garment industry to keep pace with the growing fashion industry and the immediate demands for new styles of clothing. The transition to bigger working spaces did not necessitate a transition to safer working conditions.16 In contrast, conditions only worsened for garment workers. As early as 1908, unrest in factories erupted in small acts of defiance, like Jacob Kline’s impromptu walk out of the Triangle Shirtwaist Company.17 After a dispute over his paycheck lead to a beating, Kline’s protest caught the attention of other workers on the floor who followed him out the door. While the workers returned to their posts the following Monday, including Kline, the tension between workers and factories owners would only grow. A year later, garment workers organized the first-large scale women’s strike in American history, the Uprising of the 20,000.18

The Uprising of the 20,000 began at the Triangle Shirtwaist factory, at the corner of Washington Place and Greene Streets, in September of 1909. A small, worker-organized Triangle union had an internal dispute, which had many employees of the Triangle seeking the help of the Ladies Waist Makers Union of Greater New York, Local 25, of the International Ladies Garment Workers’ Union.19 When owners Max Blanck and Isaac Harris discovered the identity of workers seeking union organized help, they were let go with the explanation that there wasn’t any work. However, the two factory owners advertised for new help in the newspaper the next day, angering workers and prompting Local 25 to call a strike. By October, unrest at the Leiserson Company, the second largest shirtwaist-producing factory in New York City, caused workers to strike there as well.20

Local 25 saw the current circumstances as potential to inspire a large-scale strike. On November 23rd, after a rousing speech given by Clara Lemlich, an avid striker and loyal unionist, a call to action was a made. A mass walk out was staged for the following day and picketing began. It’s estimated that 20,000-40,000 people from 500 garment shops participated in the uprising.21 The majority of the strikers were young women who were demanding a reduction in hours to a 52-hour work week, with no more than two hours of overtime per day in the busy season, a uniform scale of pricing set by both the factory owners and the managers and recognition of the union. In her speech, Lemlich also advocated for “a place for workers to put their hats,” which was synonymous with female strikers wanting to be treated as ladies.22

The Uprising of the 20,000 was a significant moment in American history. In the early part of the 20th century workers had few rights and labor laws were non-existent. Although women were by far the largest majority of the workforce, the unions neglected them.23 The management of Local 25 had doubts about the commitment of female workers to the labor cause; women were considered the less intellectual of the sexes and were viewed as unaggressive by nature. Their lack of permanency within the labor fields, many left after getting married, was believed to be evidence of a lack of commitment and dedication to the union’s cause.24 The Uprising of the 20,000 forced the union to reconsider their gender biases, women proved that they were serious about making changes in the garment industry and would stand up for their own rights. Local 25 decided to use sex as an advantage on the picket line, believing that factory owners and cops would be less harsh on women and that retaliation to female strikers would be viewed negatively in the press.

Factory owners were not lenient on women strikers as the union predicted. Blanck and Harris hired prostitutes to accost women on the picket line, and other factory owners hired thugs to severely injure vocal union leaders, like Clara Lemlich.25 The abuse workers faced on the picket line only strengthened their resolve and created an unusual alliance between garment workers and the female members of New York’s upper class. Alva Belmont and Anne Morgan, daughters of New York’s wealthiest men, viewed the female workers' plight as an important part of women’s suffrage and offered their support.26 The elites organized collections to support workers through the months of the strike, bailed arrested females out of jail and threw their influential support to the young women on the picket lines. Most shops had settled by February 15th of 1910, but with the help of upper class women, strikers lasted much longer then the factory owners had expected.27

Although some women succeeded in securing shorter hours and slightly higher wages, factory owners refused to recognize the union, which meant that future change would be hard to enact without more striking. The dangers of factory work were made apparent when a fire broke out at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory on March 25th, 1911. It was sparked by a smoking cigarette that was carelessly thrown into a scrap bin and proceeded to destroy three floors of the Asch building, killing 146 people.28 In thirty minutes the Triangle Fire became a significant moment in time for labor history, for several reasons. Firstly, the large death toll was a result of an inadequate number of exits. The Asch building had two stairways leading to Greene Street and Washington Place, the latter of which was never used and was often kept locked to prevent stealing, even though this was against fire code. On an average work day women were funneled out through the Greene Street stairway so security could check their handbags for stolen merchandise; the exit was so small only one person could pass at a time. On the day of the fire 1,000 workers had to exit through the Greene Street stairway because the doors to the Washington Place exit were locked on both the 8th and 9th floors.29 Unfortunately, the rapidly progressing fire closed off the Greene Street exit within fifteen minutes forcing workers to find other ways of escape. While the Washington Place doors were unlocked eventually on the 8th floor, they remained closed on the 9th with women dying trying to pry them open.30

Secondly, safety modifications that were supposed to have been made when the Asch building was built in 1901, were never completed. A building of its size should have had three exits and a fire escape, it only had two and the fire escape was faulty. In a panic, many of the workers rushed onto the poorly crafted iron and it began to buckle under the overwhelming weight. The shutters to the fire escape opened outward and the iron bar that kept the window in place got stuck threw the slates at the 8th floor window exit. It trapped the women attempting to descend from above, but it didn’t stop the exit flow of escapees. Soon the ladder reached its weight capacity and fell, killing everyone who was on it.31

Lastly, the proximity of the building to Washington Square Park drew a crowd of thousands, all of which stood by helplessly as women and men began jumping off the building to escape the fire. The impact of witnessing the mass suicide attempt and the graphic media coverage in the newspapers, forced society to face the reality of working conditions in factories. The women who lay broken on the pavement were the same women who demanded better working conditions during the Uprising of the 20,000.

In the aftermath of the fire, New York City and the Village began a mourning period for the victims. Collections were raised to aid families who had lost loved ones and were sent to relatives of the deceased or injured workers both in the United States and abroad.32 However, monetary stipulations were not enough for the mourning public, who demanded that someone be held responsible for the Triangle Shirtwaist tragedy. The newspapers repeatedly asked who would be held accountable and they directed their questions at notable public figures, like Manhattan borough president Mr. McAneny. When the District Attorney, Charles Whitman, was questioned in the newspapers, he was pressured into indicting factory owners Max Blanck and Isaac Harris, who were charged with manslaughter. The prosecution planned to prove that the owners knew the exit doors were locked and caused the death of Margaret Schwartz and Rosie Grosso. On December 27, 1911, the jurors declared Blanck and Harris not guilty, stating that it was impossible to ascertain if they knew the doors to the exits were locked.33 The following March the assistant district attorney, Charles F. Boswick, tried to indict the factory owners on additional manslaughter charges, but the case was thrown out of court. However, on March 11, 1914, twenty-three individual civil suits against the owner of the Asch building, Joseph J. Asch, were settled at about $75 per life lost.34

The Triangle fire ushers in a new era of factory reform. In October of 1911, the New York City Board of Aldermen adopted the Sullivan-Hoey Act, establishing the Bureau of Fire Prevention. The New York State Legislature also created the Factory Investigating Commission, which held its first meeting on October 14, 1911.35 The next four years that follow its creation are considered the “golden era in remedial factory legislation”.36 Between October 1911 and December of 1912, the FIC conducted investigations into factory safety, taking witness testimony from almost 500 people. It used this evidence to create new legislation that would enforce the use of fire safety measures, like fire escapes and alarms, in factories.37

The Triangle fire also provided laborers with ammunition to continue striking. In January of 1913, the union called another strike. Unlike the Uprising of the 20,000, the strike only lasted three days before factory owners granted employees a “fifty-hour work week, improved sanitary conditions, union recognition, new wage scales and an arbitration board to deal with workers grievances”.38 By September of 1913, 60,000 working women gained the benefit of a shorter workweek and a 20 percent increase in salary.39

A year later, America will enter World War I and while labor rights will continue to dominate politics into the New Deal era, Greenwich Village and New York City will transition into wartime. Immigrants will slowly begin to expand residences past the Lower East Side, especially as the garment industry moves towards midtown in the 1920s. However, the Triangle Factory fire will remain apart of the labor history narrative even as the 100th anniversary approaches. Society has continued to commemorate the tragedy as a reminder that fair labor practices are as relevant in today's world as they were in 1911.

Brenann Sutter:

While Greenwich Village in the 1910s was politically and economically defined by labor issues, its cultural expression was largely embodied in the bohemians. The bohemians were individuals, often impoverished artists, writers and musicians, who subscribed to non-traditional lifestyles while pursuing their artistic endeavors. The ingenuity of the bohemians lied in their ability to create the platforms and institutions necessary to produce their art. Nowhere is this better exhibited than in the founding of the Provincetown Playhouse.

One of the Playhouse’s original founders, writer Susan Glaspell, later expressed her exasperation with the New York’s theatrical scene in the early 1910s, “We went to the theater, and for the most part we came away wishing we had gone somewhere else. Those were the days when Broadway flourished almost unchallenged…What was this ‘Broadway,’ which could make a thing as interesting as life into a thing as dull as a Broadway play?”40 In the 1910s, the Cape Cod village of Provincetown, MA had become a popular destination for many bohemian writers and actors to spend their summers. On July 15, 1915, Neith Boyce held a private performance of his newly written play Constancy and also invited Susan Glaspell and her husband George Cram Cook to debut their piece, Suppressed Desires. The shows were remarkably well received, and by the following summer news of the quality of Provincetown theatricals attracted the talents of Max Eastman and his wife Ida Rauh, Floyd Dell and Eugene O'Neill, poets John Reed and Harry Kemp, writer Louise Bryant, painter Marsden Hartley, and artists William and Marguerite Zorach. The group decided to become a legitimate theater organization and when they returned to Greenwich Village in November 1916, they opened the Provincetown Playhouse at 139 MacDougal Street.

The Provincetown Playhouse was created to provide talented artists with a venue while simultaneously undermining what the bohemians considered to be the undeserved monopoly that Broadway held on New York theater. The Playhouse also tried to reflect bohemian ideals through their choice of scripts and by employing numerous women and African Americans in both artistic and managerial roles. The theater even received a murderous threat from the Ku Klux Klan for performing the play All God’s Chillun Got Wings, in which a black man kisses the hand of a white woman41. This desire to produce quality, intimate theater is what launched the careers of writers Eugene O’Neill, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Edward Albee, John Guare, Sam Shepherd, Charles Busch, and David Mamet. Despite surviving threats from the KKK, several changes in management, and internal frictions, the Provincetown Playhouse finally closed when it was unable to recover from the financial devastation of the stock market crash of 1929. The building remained in use by different theatrical organizations until 2009, when despite major public outcry, NYU demolished the Provincetown Playhouse on MacDougal Street, preserving only the walls containing the small theater in the southern corner of the building. In its place, NYU is in the process of constructing a new building for its Law School.

By the summer of 1916, Village bohemians were beginning to feel that their social and intellectual lifestyles were conflicting with the comparatively conservative attitude of the state and federal government. Ellis Jones, an editor for Life magazine organized what he considered to be a “second American Revolution” in which Greenwich Village would become an independent republic through mass protest42. Jones was so confident of his community’s support that he planned for the event to take place in Central Park Mall, believing Washington Square Park would be too small to contain the anticipated number of supporters. Jones fatefully scheduled his revolution for a Monday, and although it was summer, it rained, causing only a handful of Jones’ followers to show up. Yet the opposition was there in force; there were dozens of police officers armed with machine guns and ambulances stationed nearby in the anticipation of a major anarchist rebellion. Jones was quickly arrested and the call for revolution went unanswered…that is, until Gertrude Drick.

Several historians have attributed the night of January 23, 1917 to be the last hurrah of Greenwich Village’s bohemia43. Artist Gertrude Drick conceived of a plan to hold a mock revolution, an opportunity to recapture Washington Square Park in the name of bohemia. One evening she noticed the discreet access door on the West pier of the Washington Square Arch, and the resident policeman’s propensity to abandon his station for hours at a time. Drick approached her artistic mentor, John Sloan, with her idea to climb to the top of the arch and announce Washington Square’s succession from the Union. The two recruited four of their fellow bohemians to participate in the revolution: the actors Forrest Mann, Charles Ellis, and Betty Turner, and the artist Marcel Duchamp. (Duchamp was also no stranger to controversy, his painting Nude Descending a Staircase scandalized the art community when displayed at the Armory Show in 1913.)

After dark on January 23, 1917, Drick and friends met on lower Fifth Avenue. With no sign of the meandering police officer, they opened the door, climbed up the spiral staircase, pushed open the trap door, and emerged on the top of Washington Square Arch. The bohemians came armed with food, plenty of liquor, hot water bottles for warmth, Chinese lanterns, red balloons, toy pistols, and of course, the Declaration of Independence of the Greenwich Republic. The conspirators built a small fire which everyone sat around, and they recited verses of poetry amidst their eating and drinking. Finally, Drick read the Declaration aloud, (the grand majority of the words on the one-page document being ‘whereas’), a mock seal was drawn, and all present parties provided their signature. Then the balloons were released into the night, the cap guns shot off, and more wine was drunk. The Free and Independent Republic of Washington Square was born. The next day, all that remained were several red balloons, but within a day almost “everyone south of 14th street knew of their status as a liberated community”, and the wealthier inhabitants of Washington Square North found little humor in the “bohemian tomfoolery”44. The Free And Independent Republic Of Washington Square has left at least one lasting impact on Greenwich Village, as evidenced by the now ever-present lock on the West pier of the Washington Square Arch45.

The revolution was farcical but its social implications indicate that this was a community in transition. The bohemians understood that their mores were radically different than those held by the rest of the country, and it is unsurprising that they desired to be part of a political state that reflected their social values. Perhaps social writer Luc Sante states it best when he says that the mock Revolution of 1917, “actually named the thing that all the inhabitants of Greenwich Village bohemia of that time were aiming for, a revolution in more than just a legislative sense, a free territory untrammeled by convention”46. But the bohemian’s lighthearted craving for revelry and revolt suddenly seemed inappropriate and misguided when the United States begrudgingly entered an unprecedented global war on April 6, 1917.

The Greenwich Village bohemians and socialists were very vocal about their disgust over the United States’ participation in World War I. Yet the strong anti-war sentiment did not prevent the effects of the war from hitting home. Enrollment at NYU’s University Heights campus dropped from 789 students in February 1917 to 238 in October 191847. As a result of this depletion, the University became a huge contributor to the war effort. In 1918, in collaboration with the Department of War, NYU set up units of the National Army Training Detachment and The Student Army Training Corps (SATC) to provide military training. Over 1, 600 men received instruction through these two programs at the University. NYU also recruited men to serve as ambulance volunteers for the Red Cross, sending the units to Europe where they would serve in the front lines of battle. Even following the conclusion of the war, NYU continued to engage in military activity by annually celebrating ROTC field day, where student soldiers would temporarily transform their football field into an active battleground. Students were provided with a helmet, gas mask, and blanks before engaging each other in open battle48.

In Greenwich Village, the years 1912-1917 were golden years for the bohemians, often referred to as “the confident years”, “the little renaissance”, “the joyous season” and “the innocent revolution”49. But World War I forced Villagers to look beyond their local salons and playhouses. Their utopian ideals could not withstand against the reality of war. Bohemianism also came to be associated with radicalism, and the government’s increasing fear over bolshevism lead to increased surveillance and persecution of prominent Villagers. The nineteen-teens saw the end of bohemia but during the 1920s, Villagers would once again find ways to push the limits of human expression.

Catriona Schlosser:

During the 1920s Bohemianism became a popularized less radical movement. An increasing number of single young people gravitated towards the Village as a form of rebellion and a way of "experiencing life." Caroline Ware, author of Greenwich Village (1920-1930) classifies these young people as pseudo-bohemians since they did not truly embody the bohemians of the past decade.50 The wild antics that symbolized the Village seemed to permeate throughout the country, therefore making Greenwich Village seem a little less unique. Ware writes, “Of all the groups in the Village, this one [bohemianism] had the widest influence on the rest of the country, for it helped to popularize the ‘wild party’ from one end of the land to the other.”51 One observer asked at the time that “There was as much freedom in [Greenwich] Village as before, but since it was equaled and even surpassed by the [suburbs], where was the defiance and the revolt against convention which once infused Bohemia?”52 The spread of Bohemianism throughout the country is a testament to how significant Greenwich Village was during the 1920s.

These pseudo bohemians were controversial and clashed with the already existing population. The more bourgeoisie section of the Village disliked the Bohemian reputation that was attributed to the area. During the 20s, this population soon began to show great contempt towards drink, bohemianism and change.53. In fact, there were even rumors that these bourgeoisie villagers were responsible for tipping off the police as to where speakeasies were located. In one instance, seven speakeasies in Greenwich Village which included the "Holly Arms," "the Jolly Friars," "Bertolottis," "Sheridan Square Inn," "Greenwich Village Mill," "Red Head Inn" and "Jimmie Kelly's" were locked by the authorities as a result of a tip off from residents tired of Bohemians. "It is understood the men who gathered the evidence against the alleged violators were aided by information from old residents hostile to the so-called Bohemian element."54 Even though Bohemianism permeated mainstream culture during the 20s, there were still groups annoyed by what they perceived as a radical element.

The Bohemian and Bourgeoisie conflict was not the only one present in Greenwich Village during the 1920s. There was also a growing clash between the new middle class that was moving to Greenwich Village and the immigrant residents who had been living there for quite some time. The two groups lived in separate worlds rarely ever crossing one another's path. If they were to meet it was in the local shop, but very little interaction occurred. Many times they would meet in the local immigrant owned speakeasy. The middle class were rarely welcomed in these establishments. One owner stated, "Nothing earned greater scorn than to talk Italian. You don't like people who try to turn native."55 The Irish and Italians saw Greenwich Village as theirs and resented these new residents coming in and changing its immigrant working class character. There were so many different groups living in Greenwich Village during this time period that everyone tried to claim the Village as their own.

The 1920s is of course renowned for its literary achievements. The "lost generation" of writers which included Ernest Hemingway, T.S. Eliot and F. Scott Fitzgerald certainly left their imprint on America. Greenwich Village was a mecca for writers during this period. One of the more prominent symbols of this literary age was the opening of the Cherry Lane Theatre in 1924. Located at 38 Commerce St., the building was once a brewery, tobacco warehouse and eventually a box factory. A group of artists converted the factory into a theatre and dubbed it the Cherry Lane Playhouse. This theatre still functions today and it is considered New York's oldest and continuously running off-Broadway theatre. During the 20s the theatre showcased work by writers such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dos Passo, and Elmer Rice. Throughout its history, the Cherry Lane Theatre went on to showcase other prominent writers and is now considered a Greenwich Village Cultural Institution.56

Perhaps one of the biggest events of the 1920s was prohibition and the rise of the speakeasy. Greenwich Village, like many other places throughout the United States, was greatly effected by the Temperance movement. As mentioned earlier, Greenwich Village had a very large immigrant population. Many of the ethnic groups who lived in the area, especially the Irish and Italians, considered drinking as part of their culture, so when the 18th Amendment banning the selling or purchasing of alcohol was passed, these groups saw it as an attack on their ethnicity. David Lerner, author of Dry Manhattan writes, "the Eighteenth Amendment meant much more than just a ban on alcohol. It was an assault on their ethnic traditions, a blatant example of class-based paternalism, and an imposition on the daily rhythm of city life."57. Some immigrants were so outraged that they even returned to their homeland. A New York Times article reported that "Some of them are returning through patriotism or homesickness and others for gain, but fully three-fifths because, they declare, America has gone dry, which they consider tyranny, holding that after ten or twelve hours of work a workman should be permitted to buy his beer or other drink."58

Alcohol suddenly took on a new meaning. It was no longer a symbol of socializing and relaxing, but of rebellion. The members of the temperance movement were mainly Anglo-Saxon Protestants, and the movement had a strong Nativist and anti-Catholic tone. Holding onto their drink was a way of not only fighting prohibition but those who implemented it in the first place.59 Evidence shows that the locals in Greenwich Village were quite successful at thwarting the authorities through bootlegging and speakeasies.

Caroline Ware believes that even though alcohol was illegal, that the liquor business was perhaps the principle industry in Greenwich Village during the 1920s.60. Many teens in Greenwich Village worked for bootleggers and could earn up to $10 making night deliveries or acting as spotters. The residents in the village were clearly successful in their attempts to circumvent the prohibition laws. A New York Times article written on May 7, 1923, warned against the danger of bootlegging claiming that bootleggers would gain too much power if prohibition laws were not enforced.61. In many respects this article was correct. Bootleggers did have political power, social status and money. By 1930, the bootlegger was king and it was as if the ban on alcohol did not even exist. At the close of the decade, every Italian grocery or delicatessen in the Village sold wine or liquor.62

Italian groceries and delicatessens were not the only places one could purchase alcohol during the 1920s in Greenwich Village. Speakeasies, illegal establishments where people used to go to socialize and drink, flourished. The New York Times reported that by 1929 there were at least 32,000 speakeasies in New York City.63 Speakeasies took on a culture of their own. In the village residents tried to be resourceful by converting art studios into speakeasies. It is no surprise that rebellious Greenwich Village would have some of the more famous speakeasies which included the "Red Head," "the Golden Swan Cafe," and "Chumleys." Many of these speakeasies had literary significance. Eugene O'Neill used to frequent the Golden Swan, and even dubbed it the "Hell Hole." It is believed that it is the basis for the setting in his play, "The Iceman Cometh."64

By the end of the decade, Greenwich Village, like the rest of the country, was hit hard by the Great Depression, but the village did not let this hold them back. In the 1930s, the village continued to maintain its rebellious, diverse, and artistic character.

Scott Woodward Young:
If the 1920s was a decade defined by its literary achievement and its bohemian character, then the 1930s marked achievements in the arts and a strong avant-garde spirit, though this decade in Greenwich Village history was indeed no less political and rebellious than the preceding the ten-year period. The story of Greenwich Village between the years 1930 and 1939 is one of unique artistic vision intertwined with contemporary American and world politics.

Critical and emblematic events of the decade include the founding of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the downtown relocation of the the New School for Social Research, continued labor protests and demonstrations, the founding of the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts, Edward Hopper's activity in the village, and the development of the abstract expressionists, an influential group painters who lived and worked in Greenwich Village. These events together demonstrate an intensely active and creative chapter of Greenwich Village history, one that would serve to establish New York City as a destination for the arts and a strong outlet for radical political thought.

Artists and writers of this period sought a distinct American perspective, a new point of view that operated as much as a personal expression as a reply to social conditions of the 1930s that included labor strife, economic woes, and an increasing radical political presence. To understand the environment of the artist working in Greenwich Village during the 1930s, it will be helpful to examine how these social conditions effected life in the Village.

The 1930s was a decade of intense labor conflict. Strikes were a common threat, mass protests were staged on a regular basis, and Socialist and Communist leaders regularly held elected office. Long before the Red Scare and McCarthyism effectively relegated radical Left politics to an extreme minority, New York City, and Greenwich Village in particular, existed as a veritable hotbed of left-wing activity.

Following the economic collapse of 1929, suddenly unemployed and poverty-stricken New York City residents initiated large-scale rallies, often centered around public gathering places such as Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village or nearby Union Square. With almost one in four without jobs at the beginning of the decade, workers of New York City united in protest at Union Square on March 6, 1930. On that day the Trade Union Unity League and the Communist Party organized the largest ever demonstration held at Union Square, with 110,000 unemployed workers and sympathizers amassed in and around Union Square.

Other events would follow throughout the decade, from the annual May Day parade through Union Square, a procession honoring the working men and women of the city, to various other events coordinated by various trade unions, political parties, and community organizations. One such organization was the New School for Social Research. This important institution was founded in 1917 by two former Columbia University professors who had resigned in protest over Columbia's official pro-war stance. Created as a place for academic freedom for both student and faculty, the New School opened its Greenwich Village location in 1929 following a period of reorganization and expansion from its original West Twenty-Third Street building.

The New School's move into the Village was a bellwether for the 1930s: the school's new emphasis on art, its broad commitment to social reform, its political radicalism, and its disregard for convention made the New School a natural component in a Greenwich Village that would come to be defined by these characteristics. For those traveling to the Village or living within its borders, the New School's building on the northwest edge of the neighborhood at West Twelfth Street became the academic heart of Greenwich Village.65

A current of social change permeated life in the Greenwich Village of the 1930s. As one first-hand account from 1933 described the neighborhood environment during this time: "Some observers claim that the depression was, in a way, a blessing for the Village…From three to ten poets, writers and artists cram into a single studio to live together, pooling their meager resources…the present-day atmosphere of the Village is sadder to the profiteers but gladder to the dreamy, penniless prophets of the arts. Some claim that with the depression, an era of renaissance has dawned for the long-suffering Village. It is said that a semblance of the old spirit of merry or stoic poverty is now trickling back into some of the Village houses …[with] an overabundant joie de vivre."66

The neighborhood's environment of happy unconventionality and its eager search for a new identity is most evident in the production of art during this time period. So it was in 1930, the year socialite sculptor Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney founded the museum that would bear her name. Long before a series of moves would take the museum to its current home on Madison Avenue and East 74th Street, the beginnings of the Whitney Museum of American Art are rooted on West Eighth Street in Greenwich Village. In her speech at the formal opening of the museum in the fall of 1931, Whitney laid the foundation for the future of American art in the Village and beyond:

"For twenty-five years I have been intensely interested in American art. I have collected during these years the work of American
artists because I believe them worth while and because I believed in our national creative talent. Now I am making this collection the
nucleus of a museum devoted exclusively to American Art - a museum which will grow and increase in importance as we ourselves

Before its re-inauguration as a fully realized museum, The Whitney Studio Club, as it was known from its earliest inception in 1918, became an early Bohemian outpost in the Village. Located originally at 147 West Fourth Street, artists would gather here to visit socially, read in the library, practice sketching, or even play games such as billiard and Ouija.68 Following the cultural lead of the Whitney Studio Club, and later the Whitney Museum, many other artists and art world figures gravitated to the Village in the years following the Great Depression.

Another figure of the art world leading a downtown renaissance was the German modernist artist and teacher Hans Hofmann. Known for his exuberance and bravura, Hofmann originally came to New York City in 1932 to join the faculty of the Arts Student League, where his classes regularly filled to capacity.69 He left soon after to start his own school, the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts. Classes met informally at a studio at 444 Madison Avenue before Hofmann officially opened his school in 1933 at 137 East Fifty-Seventh Street. Three years later another move took the school to 52 West Ninth Street in Greenwich Village before a final move in 1938 to 52 West Eight Street. Hofmann himself shared a studio on West Ninth Street before taking his own space on West Eighth Street.

Hofmann's move to America and to New York City was influenced by contemporary politics on Europe, and specifically the heavily conservative artistic tastes of Hitler-era Germany. Hofmann's modern abstract expressionist work was simply not welcome in his home country.70 In the experimental environment of Greenwich Village, however, Hofmann found a warmly inviting home. Hofmann and his school became an active nucleus in the Village for new artist and students seeking to learn and explore modern styles of painting, and Hofmann himself would play a central role in the development of the modernist movement in America.

Life in Greenwich Village also attracted the modern painter Edward Hopper. Originally from upstate New York, Hopper first came to New York City in 1899 for art school. In 1913 he and his wife left an apartment on Fifty-ninth Street for a Greek revival row house at 3 Washington Square, just north of Washington Square Park. Hopper would live in this space until his death in 1967.

Throughout the 1920s and into the 1930s, Hopper worked to position himself as a leader among American contemporary artists. His reputation was established in 1929, when the Museum of Modern Art showcased Hopper's work in an exhibition called, "Paintings by Nineteen Living American." When the Whitney Museum opened its Greenwich Village doors for the first time in 1931 with Hopper's Early Sunday Morning as a feature, the artist's role as a contemporary force was strengthened even further.71

Life in the Village would have an influential effect on Hopper and his work. In response to the erection in 1932 of two large apartment buildings on lower Fifth Avenue, Hopper painted City Roofs. With its imposing and bland depiction of these new apartment buildings, City Roofs communicated Hopper's negative views towards skyscrapers.72 Again in 1932, Hopper was moved by domestic tension to make Room in New York. Depicting a couple in alienation, Hopper said of this work, "The idea had been in my mind a long time before I painted it. It was suggested by glimpses of lighted interiors seen as I walked along city streets at night, probably near the district where I live (Washington Square) although it's no particular street or house but is really a synthesis of many impressions."73

Through financial hardship and over the course of many years, Hopper and his wife, also an artist, continued to live in their space in Greenwich Village. As the Hopper biographer Gail Levin describes, "They cherished the north-facing skylight and the open views to the south. Greenwich Village remained a vantage point for their ceaseless movements around the city, the invitations and openings, the escapes to plays and movies, the ever more urgent prowling in search of scenes."74 Hopper's engagement with Greenwich Village reflected the neighborhood's high spirits and abounding creativity, qualities which would not soon fade from this downtown neighborhood.

Greenwich Village of the 1930s was a neighborhood defined by its taste for the vanguard, its open-minded sensibilities, and its drive to find a new artistic identity. Shaped by events at home that included labor strife and radical politics and by events abroad that included the European political precursors to World War II, the Village grew to become a locus of unconventional creativity. From this outpouring of imagination the Village became a home for the modernist art movement, anchored by the Whitney Museum of American Art, Hans Hofmann, and Edward Hopper. The following decade of the 1940s would prove no less creative, as abstract expressionism would continue to grow and develop within the creative confines of Greenwich Village.

Caitlyn Hahn:

The 1940s were a time of rebuilding for the Bohemian movement in Greenwich Village. In the later 1940s new movements in art and literature began, but the first half of the 1940s provided little in terms of the artistic innovations or social rebellion that had made Greenwich Village famous. Over the years Greenwich Village had become both famous and wildly popular, due to the wealth of cultural goings on in the previous decades, and in the 1940s the area was at the height of its popularity. By the 1940s Greenwich Village was receiving widespread attention in the media. Cashing in on the area's popularity, 20th Century Fox even released a motion picture in 1944 called "Greenwich Village" staring Carmen Miranda. According to the full synopsis provided by the database on the TCM website the movie is about a composer who has his music stolen by the owner of a speakeasy, who wants to make it on Broadway. What is further the composer falls in love with a woman who was an aspiring poet when she came to Greenwich Village.75 "Greenwich Village (1944)" romanticizes the experiences of an artist living in Greenwich Village. The theme of artists in Greenwich Village is clearly a main focus in this piece, which makes this film a prime example of how Greenwich Village was entering the mainstream eye. This romanticized view of the Bohemian lifestyle, which ignored the issues such as poverty, drug use, overt sexuality, and problems with the law that often characterized Bohemians, helped add to the growing popularity of the area abroad. To be Bohemian was to be like a movie star. This association would have been considering appalling or even insulting by the artists, who fought so valiantly to resist the mainstream staus quo.

This new public attention went against what in essence lay at the heart of Greenwich Village's creation as an artistic domain. What originally made Greenwich Village new and different was becoming popular and mainstream. This took away from the area's rebellious spirit. Perhaps it was for this reason, paired with the outbreak of WWII, that artistic production and innovation seemed to slow down in the early 1940s. Not everyone was opposed to the change. One reporter considered the change a counter culture to Bohemianism. According to the article Bohemian activity simply got in the way of the art and conforming to the standards of the bourgeoisie simply saved time and effort spent on being rebellious .76 However, little in the way of news from the time offers any evidence that the new influx of bourgeoise did anything significant for the worlds of art and literature. By the end of the decade there was a call again for those who thought outside of the status quo. Villagers were looking to start a new Bohemia.77

Another effect of Greenwich Village's popularity was a rise in the demand for residential buildings in the village.This affected the ability for Greenwich Village to remain the home of low income artists. One Miami, Oklahoma newspaper went as far as to claim that due to the increasing rent prices the "new Greenwich Village" had moved to Brooklyn where apartments were more affordable.78 The 1940s were a time of urban revitalization and growth. Countless articles from the time period talk about new construction and the high influx of people moving into Greenwich Village. One article boasts about eighteen new structures in Chelsea and Greenwich Village. The article claims that the area had been "busier lately in apartment house construction work that at any time within the last decade."79 This article, written in 1940, only suggested the very beginning of a decade of changes.

Not everyone was enjoying the new construction. Some began to worry that the historical aspect of the village would be destroyed, and some of the areas historic buildings were torn down. According the the website for the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation's website urban renewal projects led many 19th century buildings to be torn down.The outrage of those who opposed this type of blanket modernization began the first efforts at historical preservation in Greenwich Village.80 The area around Washington Square was especially debated over. Many changes were suggested for the area. Some were supported by area residents and others were denounced. As early as 1944 residents were taking measures to ensure Washington Square remained residential. The Washington Square Association was created "for protection of historic and picturesque buildings which help to give the lower West Side its 'atmosphere' and charm, and further beautification of the residential blocks by separating them from commercial and factory enterprises with green belts."81Save Washington Square Committee was formed on September 11, 1947 in reaction to New York University's choice to build a law school on the square, a decision that many disagreed with.82 Ultimately this fight was lost and the new law school was built, but it was only one of many battles by Greenwich Village residents.
Another battle between NYU and local residents took place around the same time. The goal of this fight was to save "genius row." "Genuis row" was a row of houses on Washington Square, where several talented individuals, such as Willa Cather and Stephen Crane, had perviously lived. By the late 1940s these individuals were gone and the apartments fell into disrepair. A proposal was made to tear down "genius row" and replace the houses with a living art center, but some wished to save the cultural landmarks.83 These efforts too were futile, but the fight was important because it paved the way for the preservation work that would begin to take place in the coming years.

Luckily,Greenwich Village was able to withstand both its growing ties with mainstream America as well as its changing physical structure. The village proved it was not content to become a completely modern and popularized entity. Bohemia was alive and well, even if its arts scene seemed to lay dormant for the first half of the decade. There were some remaining instances of lasting socially defiant behavior, even during the early 1940's, when little seemed to be occurring. For example, at Greenwich House several protest plays were written, and then performed on roof top of Greenwich House. These unusual protests were meant to bring light to local social injustices through the dramatic arts. The first rooftop play was called, "The Play's The Thing," and was acted out on May 24, 1941.84 This play was created to protest the possible closing of local playgrounds when there was a demand for even more children's play areas. This first play was such a success that for the next few years the tradition continued with play about the high cost of living and war efforts.

By the end of the 1940's the village was abuzz with new artistic endeavors. The post WWII years proved to be a renaissance of things new and different in Greenwich Village. Two new movements, one in art and one in literature,were a bout to take root in the late 1940s introducing the world to a new generation of bohemians and free thinkers. The New York School of Abstracts Expressionists began with a group of artists in Greenwich Village. Artists such as Lee Krasner, Hans Hoffman, Willem de Kooning, Ad Reinhardt, Mark Rothko, and most famously Jackson Pollock played with new ideas about color and form. The abstract expressionists strayed from realist painting that was popular in the 1940s. Abstract Expressionist paintings had no discernible subject matter. In fact,unlike the precise painting technique of realists, many Abstract Expressionist painters painted not with brushes, but instead thew paint on the canvas or poured it from above. Despite it's eventual affect on the larger art world, at first abstract expressionists had a following that was relatively small, but the painters did not work for public approval.85 It is understandable that something so radically different from anything that had come before would cause some hesitancy from the general public, but artists Greenwich Village rarely thought about the general public when making artistic decisions. Eventually, the art world was taken by storm, and because of the work of the abstract expressionists beginning in the late 1940s the center of the art world would soon move from Paris to Greenwich Village. The other famous artistic movement beginning in the late 1940s was of a literary nature. A new group of poets were making their way into Greenwich Village coffee houses and bars. They called themselves "beats" or "beatniks." These new poets focused on rhythm in their poetry. They looked at poetry as something to be felt, read aloud, and most definitely not analyzed. The beat movement was a way of looking at poetry unlike anything before. Names like Allen Ginsburg and Jack Kerouac became synonymous with this new literary genre. Both found their start in Greenwich Village in the 1940s.

Both the beat and abstract expressionist movements would come to maturity in the 1950s and 1960s, but the 1940s were a time for meeting and experimenting. The arts in the late 1940s were like the sound of distant thunder. One could not yet see the storm, but one could tell something big was coming and it was growing nearer. Overall, the 1940s were an important, and often overlooked, time in Greenwich Village history. The decade rounded out what was Greenwich Village's "golden age." The village made its name known to the world between 1900 and 1950 for its artistic genius and offbeat characters. Yet there was still so much more to come in the modern period. As Greenwich Village entered the modern era new waves of artists, social thinkers, and deviants broke the status quo, challenged authority, and continued to defend the traditions set forth by those first Bohemians of the teens that made Greenwich Village what it is today.


add at least 4 resources per team member

-Barnet, Andrea. All Night Party: The Women of Bohemian Greenwich Village and Harlem, 1913-1930. Chapel Hill North Carolina: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2004.
This book not only provides detailed biographies of many prominent women in the Village during this time but it also pays exceptional attention to the intricacies of their social network.

-Churchill, Allen. The Improper Bohemians; a Re-creation of Greenwich Village in its Heyday. New York: Dutton, 1959.

-Dye, Nancy Schrom. As Equals and as Sisters: Feminism, the Labor Movement and the Women's Trade Union League of New York. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1980. This book focuses on the creation and function of the WTUL in New York City, specifically focusing on the years 1903-1920. It also dedicates a chapter to discussing the labor strikes in the garment industry in the Village.

-Fishbein, Leslie. The Failure of Feminism in Greenwich Village before World War I. Women's Studies: An inter-disciplinary journal, 1547-7045, Volume 9, Issue 3, 1982, Pages 275 – 289.
This article focuses on the lack of organized feminism in the Village, arguing that the majority of women were “more interested in social rebellion than social reform”.

-Foner, Phillip Sheldon. Women and the American Labor Movement.New York: Free Press, 1980. This book is a more general overview of women and how/why they organized. It focuses more on the leaders themselves, and gives some good information about important New York City labor leaders like Rose Schneiderman.

-Friedman, B.H, Jackson Pollack: Energy Made Visible. New York: Da Capo Press,1995.
This is a biography of the short life of Jackson Pollack, arguably the most well known of the Abstract Expressionist painters from Greenwich Village. This book goes into detail about the beginning of the Abstract Expressionist movement in Greenwich Village in the 1940s.

-Hirschfeld, Al. The Speakeasies of 1932. New York: Glenn Young Books, 2003.
This book lists Speakeasies all over the United States. Many of them were in Greenwich Village.

-Hoffman, Frederick John. The Twenties: American Writing in the Post-War Decade. New York: Free Press, 1962.

-Irwin, Ruth Hoffman, and Helen Hoffman. 1947. We lead a double life. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Co

-Kuenzli, Rudolf E. New York Dada. New York: Willis Locker & Owens, 1986.

-Lerner, Michael. Dry Manhattan: Prohibition in New York City. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2007.
This book gives a great overview of the effects of prohibition in New York City, and has brief sections on its impact in Greenwich Village.

-Levin, Gail. 1995. Edward Hopper: an intimate biography. New York: Knopf.

-McFarland, Gerald W. Inside Greenwich Village, A New York Neighborhood, 1898-1918. United States: University of Massachusetts Press, 2001.
This book is a good resource because it speaks about the development of Greenwich Village at the turn of the twentieth century up to the end of World War I.

-Okrent, Daniel. Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition. New York: Scribner, 2010.
This book gives an overview of prohibition with some mention of its impact in Greenwich Village.

-Orleck, Annelise.Common Sense & a Little Fire: Women and Working-Class Politics in the United States, 1900-1965.Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1995. This book gives a good overview of not only the events that led up to women's labor unions in New York City and the important women leaders, but helps to give a good understanding of the social and political background at the time.

-Parry, Albert. 1960. Garrets and pretenders; a history of Bohemianism in America. New York: Dover Publications.

-Rose, Barbara. Lee Krasner: A Retrospective. New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1983.
This biography about Lee Krasner, another abstract expressionist painter, provides a more personal at the Greenwich Village art scene in the 1940s.

-Rutkoff, Peter M., and William B. Scott. 1986. New School: a history of the New School for Social Research. New York: Free Press

-Sandler, Irving. The Triumph of American Painting: A History of Abstract Expressionism. New York: Icon, 1970.

-Schwarz, Judith. Radical Feminists of Heterodoxy: Greenwich Village, 1912-1940. Norwich Vermont: New Victoria Publishers, 1986.
Schwarz’s book details the happenings of this private organization and the prominent actresses, writers, and suffragists who were members. It also includes numerous photographs.

-Scott, William B. and Peter M Rutkoff. New York Modern: The Arts and the City. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.
This book talks about Greenwich Village in the context of art movements, with a focus on the World War One period.

-Selzer, Jack. Kenneth Burke in Greenwich Village: Conversing with the Moderns, 1915-1931. The Wisconsin Project on American Writers. Madison, Wis: University of Wisconsin Press, 1996.

-Sochen, June. The New Woman: Feminism in Greenwich Village, 1910-1920. New York: Quadrangle Books, 1972.
This book provides a general overview of women’s activities and ideologies before, during, and after World War I.

-Stein, Leon. The Triangle Fire. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1962.
This resource is great because it was written to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the fire and utilizes oral histories of the victims conducted in 1957.

-Von Drehle, David. Triangle: The Fire That Changed America. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2003.
This is the most recent book published on the Triangle Shirtwaist fire and looks at a large scope of events that happened before and after the fire to place it in the context of American History.

-Ware, Caroline. Greenwich Village, 1920-1930: a Comment on American Civilization in the Post-War Years. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1935.
There are many sections about prohibition and its impact in Greenwich Village.

-Wetzsteon, Ross. Republic of Dreams Greenwich Village: The American Bohemia, 1910-1960. New York: Simon and Shuster, 2002.
Chapter 16 discusses Jackson Pollock and the Abstract Expressionists at length.

Primary Sources:

add at least 4 resources per team member

-"175 Facts About NYU." Timeline of University History, 1831-2006. New York University. Web. <>.
To celebrate its 175th anniversary, NYU posted 175 major events that have occurred in NYU and Greenwich Village history. Each event is marked by a corresponding picture and a brief description.

-1913 Armory Show. American Studies: The University of Virginia, May 2001. Web. <>.
The American Studies program at the University of Virginia has made a virtual recreation of the groundbreaking 1913 Armory Show in its entirety. Although the art exhibit was held in the Armory building on Lexington Avenue and 25th Street, the majority of its patrons and sponsors were bohemians from The Village. This site is a great example of the uses and benefits of digital history.

"Guide to the Rose Schneiderman Photograph Collection PHOTOS 010." The Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives. Web. 8 Oct. 2010. <>.
Rose Scheiderman was an extremely influential woman who helped to organize the Uprising of the 20,000. In the aftermath of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire she also organized relief efforts for families impacted by the tragedy. Her photograph collection starts in 1909 and has group shots of various labor organizations she participated in. In addition, her papers speak to her long history of helping with the labor movements, particularly in the Village.

Kheel Center Labor Photos. 2006. Web. 15 Oct. 2010. <>.
The Kheel Center at Cornell houses labor archives from Greenwich Village. The photo collection is approximately 350,000 photos and the 1909 Uprising of the 20,000, which happened in the village prior to the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, is represented within this collection.

Leon Stein, ed., Out of the Sweatshop: The Struggle for Industrial Democracy (New York: Quadrangle/New Times Book Company, 1977), pp. 188-193.
Stein published William Gunn Shepard first had account of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire. Shepard, a United Press reporter, was in Washington Square during the fire and reported over the telephone to Roy Howard who telegraphed Shepherd’s story to other newspapers.

"Perkins, Francis, 1880-1965—Interviews." Interview. Notable New Yorkers. Columbia University Libraries, Oral History Research Office., 2006. Web. 7 Oct. 2010. <>.
This site has the audio files and full transcripts of interviews with Francis Perkins. Perkins, lived in the Village and witnessed the Traingle Shirtwaist Fire, which had a lastly impact on her life. She became extremely involved in the labor movement in America, with the foundation of her career starting with supporting social reform in the Village. Perkins was also the first female Secretary of Labor under Franklin D. Roosevelt.

-Seeing the City: Sloan's New York. Delaware Art Museum, 2007. Web. <>.
This site hosts a digital gallery of all of artist John Sloan’s art from 1905 to 1943. A prominent member of Greenwich Village, Sloan derived his subject matter from the community, leaving behind beautiful snapshots of Village life in the first half of the twentieth century. Seeing the City also offers an interactive map and a podcast walking tour that users can download in their mission to find John Sloan’s New York.

-Stein, Gertrude. The Making of Americans. Google Books. Web.<
Gertrude Stein published her book, The Making of Americans, in 1925 with the enthusiastic moral and financial support of fellow Villager Mabel Dodge. The two were prominent members of the Greenwich Village bohemian scene, until Dodge departed for New Mexico and Stein for Paris, France.

"Triangle Factory Fire: Audio Sources." Cornell University - ILR School - Home. 2005. Web. 6 Oct. 2010. <>.
These are a selection of oral histories conducted in the 1950s of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire victims. Leon Stein used these interviews to write his book which was released for the 50th anniversary in 1961.

"Triangle Fire: Transcripts of Criminal Trial against the Factory's Owners." Cornell University - ILR School - Home. 2005. Web. 6 Oct. 2010. <>.
This site holds the transcripts for the trial of the People of the State of New York v. Isaac Harris and Max Blanck, the owners of the Traingle Shirtwaist Fire.

-Wilson, Edmund, and Leon Edel. 1980. The thirties: from notebooks and diaries of the period. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.
This first-person account of a prominent literary figure from the 20th-century sheds light onto the insider happenings of New York City during the 1920s, including personal reflections, professional interactions, and general insights into urban life.

-Wilson, Edmund. 1975. The Twenties: from notebooks and diaries of the period. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
This first-person account of a prominent literary figure from the 20th-century sheds light onto the insider happenings of New York City during the 1930s, including personal reflections, professional interactions, and general insights into urban life.

-The Dial Archives, available online from
Offers full access to past Dial issues.

-Williams, William Carlos. 1951. The autobiography of William Carlos Williams. New York: Random House.
This source includes records and reflections of the author's life and work in Greenwich Village.

-Al Hirschfeld. "Counter-Revolution in the Village :The bourgeoisie seem to have triumphed, but some centers of resistance may still be found there. Village Counter-Revolution." New York Times (1923-Current file), April 23, 1944, (accessed October 13, 2010).
Discusses the declining Bohemian movement in 1940s.

- "Drama in the Streets Aids Village Fight" New York Times (1923 Current file), May 25, 1941, (accessed October 13, 2010)[[[]]
This article discusses a play put on at Greenwich House as a form of protest. This was one of several such demonstrations there in the 1940s

-SITE OF APARTMENT LEASED IN VILLAGE :Construction Company Gets Plot for Six-Story House at 62-4 Leroy Street BANK SELLS TENEMENT Buyer of 70-Room Building at 160 Henry Street Has Made Alteration Plans. (1940, March 12). New York Times (1923-Current file),45. Retrieved October 14, 2010, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers New York Times (1851-2006) w/ Index (1851-1993). (Document ID: 92905919).
The 1940s was a time of change for Greenwich Village. This article explains one of the many projects beginning in the 1940s, which eventually led to the start of preservation efforts.

-Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. "Carmen Miranda Will Replace Alice Faye as Star in Fox's 'Greenwich Village' :CROSBY FILM DUE TODAY 'Dixie,' Technicolor Musical, Also Starring Lamour, Will Be Seen at Paramount." New York Times (1923-Current file), June 23, 1943, (accessed October 14, 2010).
This article is about a movie based on Greenwich Village that was released 1944.

-Simkhovich, Mary. Neighborhood; my story of Greenwich House. New York: Norton, 1938.
Accessed through Internet Archive ://
Book written by Greenwich House director detailing the story of Greenwich House in various different time periods.

National Conference on City Planning. Proceedings of the First National Conference on City Planning"Address by Mrs. V.G. Simkhovitch". Chicago: American Society of Planning Officials, 1909. pg 101. Accessed through Internet Archive: [ ]
Text of Mary Simkhovich's address regarding congestion in Greenwich Village area. It provides an idea of some of the issues the community was facing at the time such as overcrowding, disease and poor living conditions.

More, Louise Bolard. Wage Earner's Budgets: A study of standards and cost of living in New York City New York: Holt, 1907. Accessed through Harvard University Open Collections Project: []This book has a chapter on Greenwich Village, outlining its general history and conditions up to 1907.

Harvard Art Museum/Fogg Museum, On deposit from the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Social Museum Collection. Social Settlements: United States. New York. New York City. "Greenwich House": Greenwich House, New York City.
Various photographs and 3 documents relating to the purpose of Greenwich House. Accessed through Harvard University Open Collection Project

- "Cafes in 'Village' Included in Day's 15 Volstead Raids.'" New York Tribune (1911-1922) New York, N.Y.:Oct 25, 1921. p. 7 (1 pp.), (accessed October 13, 2010) [] This article discusses how cafes in Greenwich Village were raided quite frequently. It also mentions how people were punished for making their own wine.

- Enforcement of the Prohibition Laws: Official Records of The National Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement, Vol. 1. United States Government Printing Office Washington: 1931. This is Volume I of IV official records describing the effectiveness of prohibition in the 1920s.

- Harvier, Ernest. "Abingdon Square's Revolving Cycles: Origin and History of the Tiny Centre of Greenwich Village." New York Times (1857-1922). September 4, 1921, p. 89., (accessed October 13, 2010) [] This New York Times Article is a piece about how Abingdon Square, a square located at 8th Ave and W. 12th, was constantly changing. It is very much a symbol of how the Village is constantly evolving.

- Poore, C.G. "Speakeasy Census Shows Brisk Trade: The Police Have Counted 32,000, but None Can Say How Many More There, Are In New York—Commissioner Whalen Points. Out the Problems of His Men Difficult to Combat. Complaints by Mail. Speakeasy Census Shows A Flourishing Business New York Kindergartens" New York Times (1923-Current File). April 14, 1929, p. 143 (2pp), (accessed October 13, 2010) This article discusses how the Speakeasies continued to grow in numbers showcasing how prohibition was not as effective as the authorities would have liked.

Wordle Visualization:

cut and copy the linking text to your wordle here.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License