Faded ad: The infamous Village Plaza Hotel

This almost-gone ad, seen from Sixth Avenue, is like a time capsule from the gritty, druggie Village of the 1960s and 1970s.

Judging by the few accounts of it I could find, the Village Plaza Hotel, at 79 Washington Place, was a squalid mess. Yes, as the ad says, it was air conditioned. But a 1972 New York Times article describes it as a dumping ground for criminally inclined welfare recipients. 

And a Times article from 1967 cites it as the final home of Linda Fitzpatrick, the Greenwich, Connecticut teenager who was one half of the “Groovy Murders”—killed along with her hippie boyfriend, Groovy Hutchinson, on Avenue B that year.

According to the article, Linda Fitzpatrick’s wealthy family had no idea she was living in a filthy SRO hotel:

“The Fitzpatrick’s minds were eased when Linda assured them she had already made respectable living arrangements. ‘She told us that she was going to live at the Village Plaza Hotel, a very nice hotel on Washington Place, near the university, you know,’ her mother said.

“The Village Plaza, 79 Washington Place, has no doorman. A flaking sign by the tiny reception desk announces ‘Television for Rental’ amidst a forest of other signs; ‘No Refunds,’ ‘All, Rents Must be Paid in Advance,’ ‘No Checks Cashed,’ ‘No Outgoing Calls for Transients.’”

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19 Responses to “Faded ad: The infamous Village Plaza Hotel”

  1. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    About a week before Groovy killed Ave B he came by to an apartment a friend of mine had on 10th Street between 1st & Ave A. As usual we smoked dope and talked about the chicks we were having or not having. Life certainly was great in those days…how little we knew.

  2. Jimbo Says:

    “how little we knew.”

    Check this story out. The names have NOT been changed.

    As a hippy, I used to hang out in front of the Psychedelicatessen store on Ave A, north of 9th. Groovy would be a center of attraction. Life magazine had done a story on him and his ‘crash pads’, and I recall him bragging how, in an FU to bourgeois America, he turned down an offer to appear on Johnny Carson to discuss his crash pad novelty. (He would let total strangers crash in his apartment. I tried it once with my pad. Once! Never again.)

    Anyway, I was dating a girl who went to a fancy girl’s RC college, Mt. St. Vincent’s on 72nd St. Her room mate was Mary Ellen Keenan, whose father was a cop at, I believe, the EV station house, the 9th Pct.

    The media account of Groovy & Linda’s murder by three spades (that’s what the hippies called “Negros’) in the basement of a building attributed the murders to the fact that the spades couldn’t handle their acid trip and freaked out and murdered the two white kids. (People in those days thought acid casually would do that!)

    According to PO Keenan, the real story was that the black guys lured Groovy and Linda to the basement and murdered them as part of some concocted African-based black mass ritual or some nonsense.

    Remember there were major race riots galore those years. Fearing the true story would cause more riots, copycat crimes or white retaliation, they concocted this cover story, blaming LSD.

    PO Keenan thought that was wrong but kept quiet. He told his daughter, who told my girlfriend, who told me, who tells you.

    Maybe the true story will finally emerge.

  3. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    There was another guy named Galahad who was very popular, because of his good looks, with the media. He was hippie-incarnate, the press loved doing hippie stories on him. He founded a crash pad for homeless addicts. I visited his place on 11th Street and Ave C, hippies were crashed out in the hallways in the entire building. I felt bad about an older woman as she struggled up he stairs carrying a shopping bag while spaced out hippies just stared at her. Sadly, I didn’t help her either.

    Galahad got a job in a record store on West 4th St and eventually moved out of the East Village.

  4. jimbo Says:

    Senior Moment!!!!

    Yes, it was Galahad who was the person who held court in front of the Psychedelicatessen and was the crash-pad media darling, NOT Groovy.

    But the part about Groovy and Linda’s murder and the death-ritual sacrifice is accurate, as told by the cop’s daughter a month or two after their deaths.

  5. D. Says:

    Didn’t the Village Plaza Hotel collapse in the early ’70s? (I just missed most of the hippie era in the Village.) I think Everything for Everyone had to move afterward.

  6. Robin Says:

    I remember Groovy and Galahad. The crashpad was at 622 E. 11th St. I stayed there for awhile. Groovy would just walk down the street and break into dance. At the time I was a 15 year old runaway and the truth of the matter was that Galahad was just another grown man that took advantage of young girls. He later worked at a poster shop next to the pizza place on the corner of W 3rd and McDougal called The Night Owl. I don’t know what happened to him after that. I went with some others in a caravan to Groovy’s funeral in Rhode Island. His family was very upset that we were there and I can’t blame them. The hotel that collapsed was the Broadway Central on Brodaway and Bleeker. I lived there for awhile also but was long gone when it collapsed. I went by the name Shari then and luckily after some time in that scene I was able to extricate myself and now I can’t imagine my children doing any of the things that I did.

  7. Rhonda Says:

    I lived at the Village Plaza hotel for a short time in the early 1970s. The welfare recipients were only a small fraction of the people living there. There were also artists and a few students and people who worked in the area. I think this is more the case of a few people giving the place a bad reputation as far as the residents. The place was pretty dirty at times as it was up to the person renting the rooms to keep them clean. Some did and some did not The rooms were only cleaned by the cleaning lady when a resident moved out. The building was not kept up very well as far as repairs. I had one of the rooms with a private bath on one of the upper floors. I was not about to use one of the shared bathrooms in the building. I have not lived in NYC in years since 1977 and wondered what came of that old hotel.

  8. PC Says:

    The Village Plaze Hotel sign in the background of this Peter Paul & Mary promo shot:
    http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/74290312/Michael-Ochs-Archives

  9. Laurence Carnahan Says:

    Laurence Carnahan, East Village 1966-1969

    My family moved to the East Village in 1966 and purchased a tenement on Eight Street between Avenues C & D. I was sixteen at the time and attended Seward Park High School on Grand and Delancey Streets. A year before Flower Power took off I purchased a push cart and sold flowers on St. Marks just below Third Avenue. Sales weren’t great. I was ahead of the times. (I still have my NYC Pushcart Permit with photo ID.)

    Over the time I was in high school I held several after-school jobs. First at The Head Shop, I believe it was off Third Ave on Stuyversant Street. I then I worked at The Pychedelicatessen on Avenue A and Tenth. My parents made me quit work at the “Delicatessen” due to its infamous notoriety. Both places had mail order and I did shipping. I met Debby Harry in 1966 and worked with her, first at a Plastic Pillow Factory on Canal; then at The Head Shop and later at Max’s Kansas City, where she was a waitress and I bused. She always wanted to be a lead in a band.

    I left NYC around 1969 to travel around the country and Europe. I landed in Vermont in 1972 and have lived here since. My folks lived at 366 East 8th Street until 1998. The tenement next door to them burnt down and a New York Fireman Cedric, perished in the fire. My parents worked with other community families to turn the vacant lot into a park, which was the trend at the time. The park was dedicated by the City of New York as the Fireman’s Memorial Park by Mayor Dinkins and thrives to this day. .

    For a period of time My friends and I attended every midnight Saturday Fug concert on St. Marks. We knew all their lyrics and my parents still have a framed F**K Communism poster that I believe were sold at the shows. My family knew Fred, who ran Limbos (clothing) on St. Marks. In 1968 he hired me and another guy to drive a delivery truck up to Woodstock as he planned to sell off clothing he was overstocked with at the “Concert” It took us two hours to go the last two miles to the site. Fred had come up in a rented limo and I took that back to Manhattan that evening. We may have been the last people to get in and get out. (No regrets.) I have a trivia question I still ask, What was the one item of clothing that Limbo’s had overstocked (2000 of them) that he absolutely couldn’t sell, and he ended up giving away at Woodstock?

    • mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

      Nice bio. I attended Seward Park too, we’re probably the same age. I hung out on the streets as well, living all over the Lower East Side in the 60s, 70s, & 80s. But I’ve always been fascinated with Times Square, where most of my stories take place. I’ve lived in the East Village from 1949 until 1998 when a stroke laid me down. I’m in NJ now but my stories are all of NYC, what a fascinating time that was. Thanks very much, your bio is amazing. It’s like we know each other ;)

    • William Arthur Mills Says:

      Hellooooooooo Laurence!! I so enjoyed reading your post! I also met Debby Harry back in the day AND I remember the “framed F**K Communism poster” in your house!! I met you on a few occasions back in the 80′s, as we were Ansley and Kelly’s neighbors at 368 E. 8th St. and were also very active in the Firemen’s Memorial Garden. May this find you well and thriving!! Your Mom, Ansley, emailed us fairly recently about Kelly’s passing. I am so sorry for this tremendous loss, as we also adored Kelly. I’m trying to get back to Ansley, but can’t seem to locate her email. I would very much like to speak with her. Perhaps you can help me? All the Best, William Arthur Mills

  10. Annie Birdseed Says:

    testing

  11. Magic Bus: On the Hippie Trail from Istanbul to India by Rory MacLean | Amyeighttrack's Blog Says:

    [...] found on the internet. It made me wonder how much of that got glossed over. A lot, I suspect. (See: https://ephemeralnewyork.wordpress.com… [...]

  12. Joe Van Gieson Says:

    Unlike most of the above Commentors, I was a little older during these times. I had just gotten out of the Army.
    Anyway, it was Galahad who did all his preaching to underage girls and taking them back to his “crash pad”. Groovy was as far as I knew him to be an innocent speed freak who ran afoul of the bigger importers/manufacturers by selling product under stated prices. I have always thought that rather than a ritual Afro-Voodoo-psycho killing that it was a simple hit to look like some complex ritual. Galahad was a police informer as well as a pederast. He was the lowest type of character, much like Mel Lyman in Boston or even like Manson to some degree. It was very disturbing to see him pull in so many young girls. The whole scene was becoming depressing by the “Summer of Love” and a friend of mine convinced me to move upstate. I was sitting on the bridge outside the Cafe Espresso in Woodstock a few weeks after arriving and off the bus from the city came Galahad and Groovy and Galahad’s retinue of children. I hung out with them getting great amusement from Galahad’s reaction to the people in Woodstock’s total apathy toward him and his whole act. He was deeply intimidated by Woodstock and by the mountains and by pretty much everything as he had no flock other than those he brought and many of them drifted away from him pretty quickly once their heads were cleared by fresh air and a better overall attitude. He left after a few days amid much yelling and arguing among his little band of spaced children. By the way, in his job at the poster store, he was able to continue his police tie and thus avoided any hassle with th NYPD while he sold his speed and statutorily raped countless young girls. A true American hero.
    Groovy’s end was tragic and horrible. Galahad merely faded back into the mass of users and con men and left nothing positive that I can think of.
    Next item is whatever happened to the so-called (self-called) “Pope of the Village” David Peel – one of the most egregious get overs in the entire era. It was during this time of fake gurus and false leaders that I learned how easy it is to take advantage of the young. All you need is self assurance, a superior and smug attitude and a complete lack of morals. After another year or so I moved to Rhode Island and went to work on a commercial Lobster boat.

    • mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

      David Peel still sings his trashy songs about getting high on banana’s in his gravelly unbearable voice once in a while in Tompkins Square Park. The only thing good about him was he sang with John Lennon. Groovy used to come by to a crash pad on 10th Street that’s where I smoked dope with him. I didn’t like Galahad, he had a crash pad but had the biggest room for himself and his girlfriends, different one’s every night. Good that they’re out of the way. Nothing ever changes for certain people.

  13. DonB Says:

    Have enjoyed reading all the commentaries here. I’m wondering if the “Galahad” referenced above is the same Galahad I knew in the summer of ’67. I worked at the Figaro and for a brief time he worked as a sort of doorman. I was just 19 and he seemed like an older man, maybe 30 or so. To use the old cliche, ’67 was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Memories to last a lifetime though!

    • mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

      Yes, he was a kind of doorman, just there for his personality and ‘fame’, but he moved around the block right on 4th St got a job there at a record store. That’s the last I ever heard or saw of him until I started reading Ephemeral. Many years have passed, haven’t they?

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