Polly’s MacDougal Street hangout

Looks like a jolly crowd inside Polly’s restaurant, at 137 MacDougal Street, around 1915. Polly Holladay was an anarchist who opened her eatery when Greenwich Village hit its bohemian heights in the teens.

The place was an instant hit. The artistically minded and politically active—such as Theodore Dreiser, Sherwood Anderson, and Emma Goldman—were regulars. Polly’s moved around the block in 1919, closing for good not long after, about the time when the Village’s bohemian rep made it a favorite for tourists.

The building that housed Polly’s has attracted a lot of attention lately. New York University, which owns 133-139 MacDougal, wants to demolish most of it and put a new structure inside the old facade.

That’s not sitting well with local activists, who note that such a historic building—it formed the epicenter of an artistic movement that included Eugene O’Neill’s Provincetown Playhouse, the Liberal Club, and the Heterodoxy Club (a feminist group)—should be preserved.

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2 Responses to “Polly’s MacDougal Street hangout”

  1. Evangeline Holland Says:

    Great photo! I’m writing a book set in 1913 Greenwich Village and this is an excellent resource.

  2. Dave Simpkins Says:

    Evangeline, I’m also working on a book about the young Sinclair Lewis which includes his time in New York from 1909 to 1912. We’re going to Manhattan this weekend to do some research and hoping to get a feel for what life was like there in contrast to life on the prairie.

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