When the East Village was “up and coming”

The East Village has been deemed “over”—overpriced, invaded by hipsters and posers—since at least the late ’60s.

But there was a brief time in the mid-1960s when it was crowned the New Bohemia, a haven for authentic artists and bohemians living cheaply beside Ukrainians, Poles, and other ethnic minorities.

In 1965, the Inside Guide to Greenwich Village published this little gem on East Village/Lower East Side living in its “where to live” section.

Rents average $40-$70 for 2-4 rooms? I wonder what that translates into in today’s dollars.

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21 Responses to “When the East Village was “up and coming””

  1. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    I moved to the Lower East Side -as it was called back then– in 1952 just having arrived in America from West Germany being Ukrainian. I was just a kid and every thing looked strange. In the 60s the hippies had invaded the area, with free love, free dope and free death. I remember Ave A and 10th-11th Streets and the Psychedelic Headshop attracted many kids to the area. Of course Tompkins Square was a haven at any hour of the day or night. Then Groovy, a black street kid and his white runaway girlfriend from the suburbs, got killed on Ave B over drugs. That Autumn pretty much spelled the end of free love. Winter came and I recall walking down Ave A and seeing where the hippie shops were but now stood empty, abandoned and forgotten. Rent was cheap but so was life. Now the rich have taken over, practically clearing the area of Ukrainians, Polish, and others. Rents are very high and owned by the rich who are still stepping on and driving the poor out of the Lower East Side, actually NYC…But at least it was nice in NYs 1960s. Sigh….

  2. Christopher Says:

    It translates to $270-$472 in 2008 dollars.

  3. wildnewyork Says:

    The story of Groovy and the runaway girl is interesting. They end up dead with their heads bashed in on Avenue B–a reminder that, as you say Mick, it wasn’t all about free love and peace and all that in the late-1960s East Village. There was a lot of violence and drugs.

    Thanks for the dollars adjustment. I bet some people are still paying that.

  4. kate Says:

    People WISH they were still paying that….multiply those numbers by 10 and you’ll be a little closer to what the rent is there now

  5. Nabe News: January 26 - Bowery Boogie | A Lower East Side Chronicle Says:

    […] crowned the East Village “New Bohemia” as a cheaper alternative to Greenwich Village.  Ephemeral NY digs up an old listing about where to live in this “up-and-coming” neighborhood […]

  6. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    I was in an apartment with Groovy and Super Joel, a rich kid from Chicago. Super Joel was in the bathtub when Groovy came in and smoking grass. Super Joel leaped out of the tub, all naked, and demanded weed. Groovy laughed and gave it to him. About a week later Groove was killed. Super Joel Rosenthal went on to become a Broadway producer but was cut short by AIDS in the later 1980s. The girl who died with him was Linda…her last name escapes me. I’m sure there are news reports from the time

  7. wildnewyork Says:

    Linda Fitzpatrick. She was a rich girl with very clueless parents in Connecticut. Apparently they had no idea she was slumming around the East Village. They thought she was an art student taking classes and sharing a nice apartment with another wealthy girl from the boarding-school set.

  8. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    That’s Super Joel later that year at the big anti-war rally in Wash DC. I stayed behind at the Lincoln Monument smoking dope and disbelieving they couldn’t levitate the Pentagon. Joel marched into every newspaper the next day with his picture

  9. petey Says:

    groovy and linda:

  10. wildnewyork Says:

    Brutal stuff.

  11. Jill Says:

    A while back I found my EV building in an archive as an example of the dumbbell tenement buildings that were being built in this area at the turn of the century to comply with the new laws that outlawed rooms without windows, among other things. The row of buildings on 14th bet B&C were mentioned as prime examples, possibly the first ones of their kind if I remember correctly. In that same document it said that the typical 4 room apartment at the turn of the century was renting for about $25/month. 60 years later the rents hadn’t risen all that much!

    @kate – there are certainly people still paying low rents, not quite as low as $472, but under $800 is not unusual. Rent stabilized tenants who’ve lived in their same apartments for about the last 30 years are most certainly in that ballpark. Back then the 4 room tenement was renting for around $300-$400. Some got lucky and paid even less. With a 3%-6% increase every 2 years you can do the math. (Rent control apts are calculated differently but there are fewer of these since it is only for tenants who have lived in their apt since 1971.)

  12. Hippierockchick Says:

    I moved into my current apartment, on a primo EV block, in 1968, and back then my first lease carried a rent of $57.01.

    I’m still here, rent-controlled, a statutory tenant (no lease) with Maximum Base Rent in effect, and am now paying, for a 3-room tub-in-kitchen, interior-windowed tenement flat in an outwardly pleasing building…[drumroll]…$159.65.

    If I knew I was going to be here as long as this, I’d have gotten a bigger place to begin with. But now they’re going to have to carry me out feet first, and good luck to them!

    • petey Says:

      it was my goal in life to be the last rent-controlled tenant in nyc. but my rent’s a little higher than $159.65 (how’d that happen? at 7.5%/year?) and i’ve calculated out the time before it reaches market-rate. which leads me to wonder if at that moment (years away THANK GOD) the rent control laws would still apply and should i vacate for a day to get a lease and a lower rent?

      • Hippierockchick Says:

        There was this thing called Maximum Base Rent (MBR), and once a rent-controlled tenant reached it, that was it. Finito. No more rent increases. EVAH. I’m very lucky. Also I check for a trip wire placed by the landlord every time I go down the stairs…

        I’m a statutory tenant now, and cannot be displaced (touch wood). I haven’t had a lease probably since the 80’s, can’t even remember.

        Apartments in my building have been renovated and go for 1800-2000. Over TEN TIMES what I’m paying. So my landlord hates me. But I hate him too. I’m surprised he hasn’t taken out a hit on me…hey, drive-by shooting happen all the time.

        There’s one other rent-controlled tenant, who was here before me, even, but I don’t know what he’s paying. I think the previous tenant in my place must have been the original one from when the building went up in 1899…

  13. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    I had to give up my apartment in 1998 after being there since the mid 60s. Had a stroke and living on the 4th floor just wasn’t going to do it for me anymore. I left it when my rent was $169, rent controlled too. I’m sure the landlord was ecstatic when I was carried out. Said goodbye to 13th Street and went on with my life. Nothing you can do about that, is there?

  14. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    Hope you stay there, Hippierockchick, live long and prosper…

  15. wildnewyork Says:

    Same here. And I thought I had it good a decade ago, paying a rent-stabilized $1300 for a 250-foot West Village apartment!

  16. petey Says:

    gotcha, the MBR is low. i’m statutory too, never had a lease, even in my parents’ time. renovated apts here (in yorkville) go for 3x what i pay (not 10x: i’m jealous!). about 8 years ago i got a call from a “broker” a who had a “health insurance company refund” for me, and where should he send it? why, to this address of course! “oh, not to (an address in another state where i took a degree once under the perfectly legal temporary education exemption)?” i contained myself and didn’t say “why no, mr private investigator working for the landlord”, just reiterated the yorkville address and never heard from them again.

  17. Richard Says:

    Paid $48/mo for two rooms + bath @ 8 Avenue B nr 2nd St. Left NY for San Francisco in 1979.

  18. The East Fifth Street Boys are coming home « Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] That’s before anyone had ever heard of the East Village, and the neighborhood was just a part of the vast cramped area known as the Lower East Side. […]

  19. Medevac1969 Says:

    What became of the young demonstrator? By most accounts, he was George Harris, about 18 years old, a young actor from New York. He was on his way to San Francisco, where he would come out of the closet, take the name Hibiscus, and co-found the flamboyant, psychedelic gay-themed drag troupe called the Cockettes, according to filmmaker David Weissman, who made a critically acclaimed documentary of the group in 2002. Harris died in the early 1980s of complications from AIDS, at the dawn of that epidemic.

    So Boston’s iconic photo, so emblematic of one era, was also secretly a harbinger of another.

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