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landmarks

What is under the scaffolding?

New signs on the green plywood in front of the Stonewall Inn announce what is under the scaffolding.

New signs on the green plywood in front of the Stonewall Inn announce what is under the scaffolding.

Maybe it was hard for people to figure out where the world famous Stonewall Inn had disappeared to?

Regardless, two new signs went up the other day alerting passers by and anyone else what the business was under the scaffolding.

Not terribly unusual for signs to be on scaffolding, but this made us do a double take.  

Times Squared. Or Times six, really

This was big news. Save the Village Tours getting listed, well, not so much. But it is in the same newspaper.

This was big news. Save the Village Tours getting listed, well, not so much. But it is in the same newspaper.

For the sixth week in a row, the Paper of Record has selected Save the Village Tours: A Walking Tour of the Photographs of Fred W. McDarrah as a top choice.

Google "new york walking tours" or "Greenwich Village Walking Tours" and there are hundreds, literally hundreds of results.  

The Times boils it down to a small handful of worthy ones.

We are humbled to have made the cut. Again.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/25/arts/spare-times-for-sept-25-oct-1.html

Beat me to it!

Sixties activist Jerry Rubin on St. Mark's Place. Like Travelerette, he is a fighter.

Sixties activist Jerry Rubin on St. Mark's Place. Like Travelerette, he is a fighter.

As I was doing a Save the Village Greenwich Village walking  tour last week, it struck me how many retail spaces were vacant. For Rent. For Sale. Photo by Fred W. McDarrah.

I was going to start taking pictures of each and every one, to nail down my point - and the point that so many others make lately - that things are tipping in the wrong direction, that landlords are evil, etc. Familiar turf here. 

Well, someone beat me to it.

http://www.travelerette.com/2015/09/the-ugliest-approximately-100-abandoned.html

Didn't know her until now, but I love her already. Another soldier in the fight. She documented 103 vacant spots and probably could have captured more.

She concludes,  "I hope that was enough to convince you that something must be done about this. Now it's your turn, Mayor De Blasio, Commissioner Gordon or whoever else is listening, to stop the evil Penguin Landlord from destroying Gotham City with his ludicrous rents. If I can take these 100 something pictures, I'm sure you can do something, no matter how small."

Right on, sister.

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.  

Labor Day

Three plaques mark the location of 1911's Triangle Shirtwaist fire on Greene St and Washington Place.

Three plaques mark the location of 1911's Triangle Shirtwaist fire on Greene St and Washington Place.

To mark Labor Day, we wandered a bit off the path of the tours (going two blocks east of Washington Square Park) to the site of 1911's Triangle Shirtwaist fire. The blaze took 146 lives, most of them young female garment center workers. The workers were locked into their workplace and many jumped from ten floors up to try and escape the flames.  It remains the city's deadliest industrial accident and led to changes in the fire codes, factory safety and spurred the growth of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union.

The building is both a national and a city landmark. Close ups of the three plaques are below. They speak for themselves.     

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