Viewing entries tagged
1960s

As we were saying...

Tour-goers photograph George Segal's "Four Figures" and the Park Dept. interpretive sign (with Fred W. McDarrah image) at Christopher Park, which lawmakers are now pushing for National Park status.  Stonewall is in background with the green scaffolding.

Tour-goers photograph George Segal's "Four Figures" and the Park Dept. interpretive sign (with Fred W. McDarrah image) at Christopher Park, which lawmakers are now pushing for National Park status.  Stonewall is in background with the green scaffolding.

As we reported a few weeks back (scroll down), there is a push to create a national park at Christopher Park to honor the 1969 Stonewall Riots.

Now the movement is getting bigger.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/21/nyregion/lawmakers-seek-national-park-in-honor-of-stonewall.html?ref=nyregion&_r=0  

Excellent. More plaques to go up for us to photograph! Nah. Seriously, federally protected status won't much change anything in the park itself, as the current owner, the City of New York, isn't about to do anything to fudge things up. But it could help in preserving the Stonewall façade, ensure funds from Washington D.C. to maintain the park and streets around it, and it adds another level of legitimacy and gravitas to the location.   

And it couldn't hurt with preserving other landmarked and non-landmarked but vitally important historic places in New York on the Save the Village walking tour route, and elsewhere.

11th Avenue Freeze-out. Every other street too.

 

We are suffocating ourselves.

If we don't Save the Village - and every other neighborhood in town with a little scale, history and charm - we are in deep trouble.

Kevin Costner heard it first: "If you build it, they will come." Here in Gotham City, it keeps getting built. People keep coming. And by my calculations (and I did go to Stuyvesant HS!) we are fast approaching absolute gridlock. Complete and total shutdown. Like a can of sardines but more tightly packed.   

Case in point: Driving from Astoria to SoHo at 5 pm this afternoon was a nightmare. It could have been worse, perhaps, if the weather was especially hideous or there had been an accident on the 59th St. Bridge or elsewhere, and it will be worse in the coming days as streets are closed off and parking disrupted for the coming U.N. session and visit by the pope. Or a ticker tape parade if the Mets win the World Series. (Though that is a traffic jam I wouldn't complain about!)

But this was a reverse commute trip (into Manhattan at rush hour, not out) on a "typical" day. Nightmare is now typical when driving in Manhattan during daylight hours.

There are periodic stories in the tabloids about "races" between a crosstown bus and a turtle: who can cross 14th Street from river-to-river faster. (The turtle wins of course or else it is not a very interesting story.) And while the express bus lanes are a great idea, illegally parked UPS trucks, taxis, flummoxed drivers, cop cars, food trucks and the like do tend to slow things down. 

Same on the subways (and the LIRR!). Everyone has recent horror stories. I was on the 7 train coming home from Shea - oops, CitiField - on Monday night and while everyone was chatting about the delightful new 7 station at 11th Ave., I was predicting chaos. I was right - and a lot quicker than I thought. Trains on the 7 line were off from about 10:30 to 11:30 pm  due to "signal troubles."  Thousands of sleepy, angry Mets fans, the glow of the team's 8th straight win wearing thin thanks to overcrowding and system shutdown.

Every morning lately the traffic and transit report stretches longer and longer as trains on the Ronkonkoma line, or the PATH or Metro North has another breakdown. Things just be too crowded up in this joint, as the urban youth would phrase it.

There are more buildings being built for people to live in. But you know what? There are not more streets for them to drive on, or sidewalks for them to walk on, or subway lines or tracks to transport them. All there seems to be are more CVS drug stores, Chase ATMs and Starbucks counters.

In the last few months I have really noticed a difference in the general level of crowds everywhere. There's always been swarms of people in New York of course, including residents, workers who commute from elsewhere and the 50 million or so tourists who come here each year.  

But finally, the end is near. Call me Nostradamus: I am predicting complete, total, absolute gridlock within next five years.

Unless anyone wants to do something about it.

One guy does, and he has started this: http://www.savenyc.nyc/

I am sure he often feels like he is pissing into the wind, as do many uncaped crusaders. (Abbie Hoffman for example, the radical, revolutionary, political activist and social clown and 1960s activist, Chicago 8 defendant, environmentalist and peace lover, committed suicide in 1989 - we covered the story - because he was said to be despondent that a lifetime of activism had resulted in what boiled down to what he thought was a failure, his death coming after eight years of Ronald Reagan and a rising conservative tide.)

You can do something about what is happening all around us. Become involved. Become aware. Know what your local community board is up to. See what projects are in the pipeline. Go here and join an advocacy campaign: http://www.gvshp.org/_gvshp/preservation/index.htm.  Or start one in your 'hood.

People come to New York and Greenwich Village in particular because it is a manageable scale, it has history, it has excitement.  But that appeal is being destroyed, one new condo project at a time.

Looking Around

Not that we're especially obsessed with plaques on the sides of buildings, but lately we have been looking at them more. The one pictured here is not in the Village. It on 34th Street, near an entrance to Macy's department store. 

New York has such history. From before the 1960s even. Appreciate it. Embrace it. Enjoy it.

Old/New

Before: The corner of 8th St. and MacDougal in front of the famous 8th St. Bookshop. (Pictured is peace activist David McReynolds delivering a "Ban The Bomb" speech on September 18, 1960.  

Before: The corner of 8th St. and MacDougal in front of the famous 8th St. Bookshop. (Pictured is peace activist David McReynolds delivering a "Ban The Bomb" speech on September 18, 1960.  

After: The same corner, now a chain coffee spot, in September 2015. People came to the Village for, among other things, independent bookstores. Save the Village or it will be nothing BUT awful chain stores.

After: The same corner, now a chain coffee spot, in September 2015. People came to the Village for, among other things, independent bookstores. Save the Village or it will be nothing BUT awful chain stores.

How it was and what it now is: The Save the Village tours highlight lowlights like this. Only YOU can prevent forest fires, as Smokey the Bear used to say. Well, only YOU can prevent future abominations such as this one, where the nerve center of a literary generation morphs into a cookie cutter coffee joint that could easily be found in any strip mall in America.  

Save the Hamptons!!?

Entertaining story in the New York Times today about how the Hamptons are being battered by wealth, interlopers, drunken revelers, Uber-style helicopter companies, nightclubs run by city folk, etc. La plus ca change, right?  

(And hats off to the writer, Jim Rutenberg, has come a long way from his days as our inexperienced sidekick at a Manhattan weekly and at a New York daily.)   

We spent many summers (and other seasons) out East, starting in the sepia-toned days (1960s, 1970s, 1980s) when we could pick up a phone book to find the address and phone number of interview subjects, ranging from Juan Trippe and William Simon  (Google them, kids) to Larry Rivers and Chuck Close. Celebrities and moguls might have had an unlisted number in New York City, but most never thought to do the same for their summer home.

But the point, and we do have one, is that in the same way that what made Greenwich Village appealing is slowly being destroyed, the same thing is happening in East Hampton, and a whole lot of other places.

Main St. and Newtown Lane in East Hampton is now DKNY Tiffany Ralph Lauren Marc Jacobs. Local businesses are a rarity. The quaint old movie place is now a multiplex. Dumpy old Ma Bergman's has for decades been the celebrity eatery Nick & Toni's (though they are actually good members of the community and the least of the problems in the Hamptons). The open space is being slowly eaten up. Hard to screw with the natural light that made the area a haven to painters from Pollock to deKooning to you name them, but can buildings like the behemoths that line West 57th St and cast a shadow into Central Park one day line Three Mile Harbor Road and cast a shadow over Accabonac Creek?

I hear you laughing at the absurdity of a 100-story building in East Hampton. However, it is not that funny. Zoning laws can change with enough financial power, as can most anything else. Some things should not be for sale, such as our collective history. Even Mr. Met isn't happy about it.  

Mr. Met after seeing Shea Stadium demolished. He understands progress but understands that sometimes preserving history is more important.

Mr. Met after seeing Shea Stadium demolished. He understands progress but understands that sometimes preserving history is more important.

New McDarrah prints available for first time

This may not be a typical blog post - it is more of a press release.  But since we wrote it, seems like fair use.

PHOTOS.COM by GETTY IMAGES SNAPS UP LEGENDARY VILLAGE VOICE PHOTOGRAPHER FRED W. McDARRAH 

New Prints of Classic Greenwich Village Images Available For First Time

Photos.com proudly announces the addition of the Fred W. McDarrah Collection.

Fred W. McDarrah was the most curious, knowledgeable, and indefatigable chronicler of the New York scene over the second half of the 20th century. 

His work brings a new and unique selection of images to the collected works of an already world class Photos.com lineup including Alfred Eisenstadt, Margaret Bourke-White and Ansel Adams.

McDarrah rose to prominence during his 50-year association with the Village Voice newspaper, the house organ of the post-war counterculture. The New York Times has described McDarrah as the "Bachrach of New York's Bohemia."

He photographed the artists, writers, musicians, and actors who frequented the bars, theaters, galleries, and cafes in Greenwich Village. He documented political rallies, museum openings, breaking news, feminism, experimental theater, the rock and folk music scenes, dance, and the civil rights and anti-war movements. In a style simple and direct McDarrah created street and studio portraits of luminaries, politicians and celebrities that were often definitive.

But his favorite subject may have been his beloved New York City; often roaming the city on his bicycle, he documented the streets, buildings, landmarks, parks, beaches, pushcarts, subways, architecture, landscapes, churches, signs, cobblestones, storefronts and rooftops.

McDarrah's photographs have been exhibited at numerous museums, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Wadsworth Atheneum and the Centre Georges Pompidou-Paris; and are in private and public collections including the National Portrait Gallery, the J. Paul Getty Museum, the New York Public Library, the Andy Warhol Museum, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

For The Fred W. McDarrah Collection, the editors at Photos.com have selected more than 200 of McDarrah’s most delightful and inspiring images, with an eye towards their ability to work as wall décor. Many of the images shown here are available to the consumer market for the very first time.

About Photos.com by Getty Images:

Built on Getty Images’ unrivaled archive and exclusive collections from a wide range of world-renowned photographers, Photos.com by Getty Images is a full service printing and framing e-commerce business.  Every image is available in four sizes and five framing options: paper, canvas, acrylic, birchwood & aluminum, and arrives at your doorstep framed and ready-to-hang.  With more than 250,000 images spanning current events and famous faces to world culture, contemporary concepts and iconic black-and-white photography, there’s something to inspire and complement every interior style.

Photos.com by Getty Images is not affiliated with the J. Paul Getty Trust or its operating programs including the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the Getty Foundation.

For more information about the Fred W. McDarrah Collection or Photos.com, please contact Director of Marketing Katherine Wells: Katherine.wells@gettyimages.com

 

Thanks, New York Times!

Save the Village (every Tuesday) Last year the Steven Kasher Gallery in Chelsea put on an exhibition with the photography of Fred W. McDarrah, who documented the changing scene of Greenwich Village since the 1960s. Now, the spirit of that show has taken the form of this walking tour, which includes stops at the places McDarrah captured on film: locales like Washington Square Park and the Stonewall Inn. At 10 a.m.; the tour meets at Christopher Park, Stonewall Place, at Seventh Avenue, West Village, savethevillagetours.com.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/21/arts/spare-times-for-aug-21-27.html

All Dylan Tour?

116 MacDougal Street, former home of the Gaslight Cafe.

116 MacDougal Street, former home of the Gaslight Cafe.

The death this week of Bob Johnston, who produced "Blonde on Blonde" and "Highway 61 Revisited" for Bob Dylan (plus classic albums for Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen and many others) got us thinking about adding another tour to the Save The Village lineup - an all Bob Dylan tour.

Doing research for the Save The Village tours, we went on some other local tours - both walking and on those ubiquitous double decker buses - to see what was good, bad and ugly.

The saddest was at the end of one tour when a woman from Australia turned to me and said, "Mate... How can these people offer a Greenwich Village tour and not even mention Bob Dylan?! That is why I came on the tour!"

Agreed.

I know who John Dos Passos, ee cummings and Dashiell Hammet were, can point to the corner where the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire took place and know where on Grove St. that Thomas Paine wrote "Common Sense." And some people do come on tours for old stuff. But people also want to see places that they can relate to, from their own memories or experiences. That is why we point out where on West 10th St. Julia Roberts has an apartment. (Across from Edward Albee's old place).   

It would not be too hard to put together an All Bob Tour, encompassing where he lived, worked, played, visited, shopped... all below 14th St. (Maybe we'd stretch it up to Irving Place where one of his business managers we know had an office.)

161 W.  4th St., where Dylan first rented an apartment - a top floor studio facing the back.

161 W.  4th St., where Dylan first rented an apartment - a top floor studio facing the back.

The tour would likely include places he performed including just on MacDougal Street: The Folklore Center, Cafe Wha? (see photo), Gerde's Folk City, the Gaslight Cafe and Kettle of Fish; the Theatre de Lys on Christopher Street which was a favorite spot; also the Cedar Tavern on University Place, The White Horse on Hudson St., The Bitter End and the Village Gate (both on Bleecker Street) or he'd be in Washington Square Park listening to music on a Sunday afternoon (as famously captured in a McDarrah photograph elsewhere on this site); or places he lived or crashed such as 161 West 4th St. (see photo) , 94 MacDougal St. (see photo), the former Hotel Earle or One Sheridan Square.

And Fred W. McDarrah did photograph most of these places.

Hmmm...

94 MacDougal St., which Dylan owned in the 1970s. 

94 MacDougal St., which Dylan owned in the 1970s.