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.