The historic preservation movement began in Greenwich Village more than 50 years ago. By the 1940s, urban renewal efforts on Washington Square South had altered the character of that neighborhood, razing many significant 19th-century structures. Its first great success was the defeat of a plan by Robert Moses to carve a roadway through Washington Square. Subsequent preservation efforts were strengthened when, in 1969, the Greenwich Village Historic District was created.
The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, founded in 1980, provides consultation services on a variety of preservation issues. The society also serves the community as historian, educator, archival resource and technical consultant. Its Preservation Watch program ensures that landmarks violations are reported and enforced. Current society efforts have focused on the waterfront, which was not included in Greenwich Village’s original landmark designation
Society programs include educational projects, preservation advocacy, lectures and walking tours. Its preservation archive and oral history project collect interviews, clippings and personal effects that document fifty years of grassroots advocacy.
The society also sponsors exhibitions, often in collaboration with other city institutions. Rare and Historic Greenwich Village Maps: An Exclusive Showing, for example, was a special exhibition at the New York Public Library showing the progression of the Village from rural outland to the gradual emergence of its labyrinthine street layout; Picturing New York, The Paintings of Peter Ruta, in collaboration with the Museum of the City of New York, explored that contemporary artist’s paintings, which themselves document the Village’s built environment.
Walking tours have included Row House Romp: A Walking Tour for Children and Families, which was an architectural scavenger hunt for the dormers, bays, lintels, cornices and stoops unique to the Village; the Special Halloween Walking Tour: Macabre Greenwich Village revisited the sites of murders and hauntings; The Historic Greenwich Village Waterfront, by contrast, explored little-known history of Greenwich Village’s western edge, now under intense development pressure; and Gay Greenwich Village highlighted the crucial role gays and lesbians have made to Village preservation.
Educational outreach is undertaken by way of public lectures, tours, exhibitions and publications.
History and Historic Preservation is a standards-based learning experience that works within NYC classrooms to teach students in grades 1-8 the history of Greenwich Village and NEw York City through historic preservation and the built environment. The program offers three separate curriculum choices -- Past & Present, Immigration, and streetscape timeline -- to illustrate the changing frabric of our city. Each programs consists of three sessions -- a hands on history investigation in the classroom, a Village walking tour, and a culminating art project back in your classroom. More information at www.gvshp.org.education. The program has been educating NYC students since 1991 and receives rave reviews from students and teachers alike:
"The different ways offered to the students to learn were great- direct instruction, exploration/observation, and art."
- 2nd grade teacher at PS 102
"The teacher was a natural with students. She listened to their thinking and responded with warmth and knowledge."
- 1st grade teacher at the Village Community School