Synopses & Reviews
A lively anecdotal history of Greenwich Village, the prodigiously influential and infamous New York City neighborhood, from the 1600s to the present
The most famous neighborhood in the world, Greenwich Village has been home to outcasts of diverse persuasions — from "half-free" Africans to working-class immigrants, from artists to politicians — for almost four hundred years. In his magisterial new book, cultural commentator John Strausbaugh weaves an absorbing narrative history of the Village, a tapestry that unrolls from its origins as a rural frontier of New Amsterdam in the 1600s through its long reign as the Left Bank of America in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, from its seat as the epicenter of the gay rights movement to its current status as an affluent bedroom community and tourist magnet.
Strausbaugh — "a particularly gifted chronicler of New Yorkiana" (Atlantic Monthly) — traces the Village's role as a culture engine, a bastion of tolerance, freedom, creativity, and activism that has spurred cultural change on a national, and sometimes even international, scale. He brings to life the long line of famous nonconformists who have collided there, collaborating, fusing and feuding, developing the ideas and creating the art that forever altered societal norms. In these pages, geniuses are made and destroyed, careers are launched, and revolutions are born. Poe, Whitman, Cather, Baldwin, Kerouac, Mailer, Ginsberg, O'Neill, Pollock, La Guardia, Koch, Hendrix, and Dylan all come together across the ages, at a cultural crossroads the likes of which we may never see again.
From Dutch farmers and Washington Square patricians to slaves and bohemians, from Prohibition-era speakeasies to Stonewall, from Abstract Expressionism to AIDS, and from the Triangle Shirtwaist fire to today's upscale condos and four-star restaurants, the connecting narratives of The Village tell the fresh and unforgettable story of America itself.
“Strausbaugh has produced the definitive history of Americas bohemian wellspring and prototypical modern neighborhood with all the verve and fun and rigor it deserves.” Kurt Andersen, bestselling author of True Believers and Heyday
“A great, sprawling saga of genius and vice in New York City's Greenwich Village. John Strausbaugh captures Bohemia at its best and level worst, reminding us why we love this place. His account is breathtaking.” Teresa Carpenter, bestselling author of New York Diaries
“The very best kind of cultural history: Literate, lucid, erudite, and entertaining.” Michael Lesy, author of Murder City: The Bloody History of Chicago in the Twenties
“[A] loving and thoroughly researched look at what [Strausbaugh] calls ‘a zone of rogues and outcasts from the start'....Fine social history humanized with a sort of paradise-lost wistfulness.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Cultural commentator John Strausbaugh's The Village
is the first complete history of Greenwich Village, the prodigiously influential and infamous New York City neighborhood.
From the Dutch settlers and Washington Square patricians, to the Triangle Shirtwaist fire and Prohibition-era speakeasies; from Abstract Expressionism and beatniks, to Stonewall and AIDS, the connecting narratives of The Village tell the story of America itself.
Illustrated with historic black-and-white photographs, The Village features lively, well-researched profiles of many of the people who made Greenwich Village famous, including Thomas Paine, Walt Whitman, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Mark Twain, Margaret Sanger, Eugene O'Neill, Marcel Duchamp, Upton Sinclair, Willa Cather, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Jackson Pollock, Anais Nin, Edward Albee, Charlie Parker, W. H. Auden, Woody Guthrie, James Baldwin, Maurice Sendak, E. E. Cummings, and Bob Dylan.
About the Author
John Strausbaugh covered downtown Manhattan history and culture as a writer and editor for the weekly New York Press from 1988 through 2002. For the New York Times he wrote and hosted the "Weekend Explorer" series of articles, videos, and podcasts on New York City history. He has also written for the Washington Post, NPR, and PBS. His previous books include E: Reflections on the Birth of the Elvis Faith, Rock 'Til You Drop, and Black Like You. A former resident of Greenwich Village, the Lower East Side, and Hell's Kitchen, he now lives in Brooklyn Heights.