Nestled in a northwest pocket of Greenwich Village next to the Hudson River lies the small community of the West Village. Today, the neighborhood is fast-paced and quaint. However, the West Village neighborhood is packed with more history than you probably know. Learn five facts about this classic community that take you back in time.
1. Home to Historical Buildings
The West Village is home to some of the oldest buildings in the city with European-style architecture. The Isaacs-Hendricks house is the oldest home in the community, dating back to 1799. The home was originally made of wood but was later constructed out of bricks in the mid-1800s. This Bedford Street home also once belong to the estate of “The King and I” film and theater actor Yul Bryner.
2. Celebrity Sightings
The West Village was home to many famous painters, poets and politicians. Abstract expressionist artist Jackson Pollock once owned a luxury apartment in the area on Carmine Street in the 1940s. This home also sat on land that once belonged to Aaron Burr, one of the U.S. Founding Fathers. Politician and former mayor of New York City Fiorello H. LaGuardia, Jack Kerouac, Jasper Johns and E.E. Cummings all called the West Village their homes as well.
3. Ripe for Civil Rights and Protests
One interesting fact about the West Village is that it was home to civil rights protests and demonstrations. The late 1960s saw the Stonewall Riot, where onlookers watching police force members of the gay community into a paddy wagon ignited a crowd fueled with fury at being targeted by police for gay club raids. This event is recognized as the beginning of the gay rights movement. Even homeowners faced opposition from picketing protesters, such as the picketing of photographer Annie Leibovitz’s home.
4. Home to the Arts
Outside of artists and poets residing in the West Village, the community’s cultural was embedded in time. The Whitney Museum of Art was built in the early 1930s and called West 8th Street its home. The Village Vanguard also brought the jazz culture to the West Village during the 1930s.
5. Protected by Preservation
To keep the original character and charm of the city, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation was created in the 1980s. The society promoted and enforced zoning laws to keep the heritage and culture of the community, including West Village’s landmarks, such as Washington Square Park, within the Greenwich Village.
The historical buildings of the West Village offer insight into the charm it has today. With its culture and character, The West Village provides a history that cannot be ignored.