Cynthia Crane - Saloon Chanteuse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CYNTHIA CRANE

Greenwich Village Struggles: The Village suffered mortal wounds after World War II when it was out with the old - in with the new, and large sections of historic houses were destroyed and replaced by "modern" (read ugly) high-rise apartment houses. When the 1873 Venetian Gothic Jefferson Market Courthouse was threatened in the 60's, Villagers started to fight back. We're now a Landmarked Historic District, but the borders were gerrymandered, and we are in constant danger to our south and west. In the best of all possible worlds, the Historic District would run from 14th Street to Houston Street, river to river.

One of the greatest problems facing Greenwich Village is the proliferation of educational institutions absorbing buildings, taking them off the tax rolls while building outsized buildings where ever possible. (NYU, Parsons, New School U, Cooper Union, Pratt). NYU has become a hydra-headed monster. On the south side of Washington Square Park, in defiance of the fragility of the historic neighborhood and entreaties from one and all, and completely obliterating the Fifth Avenue vista whicih culminates at the Triumphal Washington Square Arch, NYU has built two different high rise towers. Built them right on top of our "holy place", the heart and soul of Greenwich Village, Washington Square (Judson Church's Parish House and Edgar Allen Poe house razed in the process). Sad to tell, there have been visible results in the park, itself, from NYU's digging the foundation necessary for the 15-story Kimmel Center right over the subterranean Minetta Stream. For months they pumped out the site day and night, in an effort to drain water from the foundation, eventually draining the park dry as well. Mute testimony can be seen in the giant Elm across the street which has succumbed to the resultant draught along with another ten trees. Along with other incursions, future plans involve demolition of a row of charming 3-story houses on MacDougal next to historic Provincetown Playhouse.

While the Village was still reeling from the effects of 9/11, we were threatened by PATH (the monolithic Port Authority of NY & NJ, answers only to the Governors of those states). They want to build two new entrances, NOT on the avenues but right on Christopher Street, in front of the 100-year old Lilac Chocolates and the Lucille Lortel Theatre (formerly Theatre De Lys) on one end, and in front of a row of some of the Village's most historic 2-story houses on the other. FEMA turned them down on the money, and they've gone away, but I fear they'll be back.

 

Watercolor "Washington Square Park" by Laszlo Tar

I love this photo of Sixth Avenue taken in 1927 just before the demolition of the old Jefferson Market. It's a form of time-travel! The wooden Market was built in 1832 and named for Thomas Jefferson; it was replaced with a brick market building in 1883. The marvellous Venetian Gothic Jefferson Market Courthouse (the only building left) and matching prison were built in 1874. Look closely and you'll see the market, the Courthouse with its bell tower and the jail. Now the bell, "Ol' Jeff" once more rings through Greenwich Village to sound the hours.

 

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