Posts Tagged ‘Greenwich Village in the 1960s’

7 mystery photos of downtown New York in 1968

November 4, 2019

For a couple of months in 1968, one New Yorker walked around the East and West Villages, aiming a camera loaded with black and white film at the people and buildings encountered on the street.

This New Yorker captured scenes that would be familiar to city residents today. Above is Sixth Avenue looking south toward Jefferson Market, a year after it became a library branch (but before six years before the fortress-like Women’s House of Detention behind it was demolished).

Here’s Gem Spa at Second Avenue (are those Belgian paving blocks on the street?) and St. Mark’s Place. Apparently in 1968 it was Gems Spa.

I’m not sure what block this is, taken from a roof or terrace across the street; I think it’s LaGuardia Place, without the community gardens on the east side of the street, which didn’t come until the 1970s.

Is that a volleyball net in Washington Square Park? It’s set up in the southern end of the park, with Judson Memorial Church and its iconic bell tower in the background.

Back in the East Village again looking down St. Mark’s Place, with the St. Mark’s Theater marquee advertising a Bette Davis film (it was a second-run house at the time).

The park benches at St. Mark’s Church on Second Avenue are still popular—but you don’t see men in hats and overcoats like this anymore. These folks are old-school East Villagers, and their younger neighbors are hanging out by the church fence near the Biafra sign.

Below, a sidewalk artist displays his work, though it’s hard to know where we are. Soho barely existed at the time; perhaps it’s part of the Greenwich Village art show?

Since most of the images here are easily identifiable, what’s the mystery? That would be who it was who decided to shoot some film of random ordinary street scenes and hang onto the photos for the next 50 or so years. I don’t have an answer…but I know the photographer stashed them in a drawer and basically forgot about them.

[All photos © Ephemeral New York]

Faded ad: The infamous Village Plaza Hotel

February 19, 2010

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.'”

Where Bob Dylan got his start in the Village

August 27, 2009

In April 1961, Dylan played his first paying gig at Gerde’s Folk City, an early folk music venue in the Village and a launching pad for Judy Collins, Joan Baez, Phil Ochs, and other 1960s folkie legends.


A very enthusiastic review in the New York Times that September helped make him a household name:

“A bright new face in folk music is appearing at Gerde’s Folk City,” write reviewer (and eventual Dylan biographer) Robert Shelton. “Although only 20 years old, Bob Dylan is one of the most distinctive stylists to play in a Manhattan cabaret in months.

“Resembling a cross between a choir boy and a beatnik, Mr. Dylan has a cherubic look and a mop of tousled hair . . . . His clothes may need a bit of tailoring, but when he works his guitar, harmonica, and piano and composes new songs faster than he can remember them, there is no doubt that he is bursting at the seams with talent.” 


A review of Gerde’s from The New Inside Guide to Greenwich Village, 1965

Gerde’s was at West Fourth Street, at Mercer. The club moved to West Third Street in the 1970s, closing up shop in the 1980s. The West Fourth Street building in the photo above was torn down, replaced by a structure housing Hebrew Union College.

The Village’s art house movie theaters

October 17, 2008

There are lots of places in the city that show independent and foreign films. But movie fanatics who lived in New York in the 50s, 60s, and 70s still bemoan the loss of certain legendary theaters, like Bleecker Street Cinema, which opened in 1962 and closed in 1990.

After ceasing to show art films, Bleecker Street Cinema had a short stint as a porno palace, then was renovated for retail use. 

This page, from the 1965 Inside Guide to Greenwich Village, calls it “a film-lover’s paradise,” then lists other artsy theaters, most of which are long gone. Cinema Village still exists, but the Greenwich Theater is now an Equinox, and the Eighth Street Playhouse a retail outlet.

How to get a job in Greenwich Village

June 30, 2008

The authors of The New Inside Guide to Greenwich Village, a cool little handbook published in 1965, seem to assume that anyone moving to the Village back then did so to pursue some kind of artistic endeavor. Therefore, they needed sound advice on how to actually pay the bills.

Not very enlightening, unfortunately. But this next part details who to call if you’re looking for temp work. I guess Miss Rae was the 1965 equivalent of Career Blazers?