Skip to main content
Select Source:

Greenwich Village

GREENWICH VILLAGE

GREENWICH VILLAGE. Called Sapokanikan by the original native inhabitants who used the area mostly for fishing, Greenwich Village is one of the most vibrant and diverse neighborhoods in Lower Manhattan. During the 1630s, Dutch settlers called this area Noortwyck and used it for farms. It remained sparsely populated until the English conquered it in 1664. By 1713 it had evolved into a small village renamed Grin'wich. Because of its proximity to the commercial activities centered near the Hudson River, it began to take on a more commercial orientation after the American Revolution. A series of epidemics between 1803 and 1822 increased the area's population when residents from more crowded parts of the city fled north. By 1840 the area had been transformed from a small farming hamlet to a thriving business and residential center. Land developers bought up and divided the remaining farmland, and the marshy tracts were filled in.


Fashionable Greek Revival–style townhouses sprang up around Washington Square Park.

During the nineteenth century the Village was transformed not only by its affluent residents but also by the many educational and cultural institutions that flourished there. New York University was founded in 1836 and private galleries, art clubs, and learned societies abounded. The neighborhood began another transformation by the end of the nineteenth century when German, Irish, and Italian immigrants flooded into the area to work in the manufacturing concerns based in the southeastern part of the neighborhood. As these immigrants moved in, many single-family residences were subdivided into smaller units or demolished and replaced by tenements. By World War I, a range of political and cultural radicals and bohemians had moved in, and the neighborhood began to take on the character that has marked it since as a home to and focal point for diverse social, cultural, educational, and countercultural movements.

In the 1950s, the Village provided a forum for the beat generation and produced such literary luminaries as Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. The 1960s through the early 1970s marked the arrival of an openly gay community, hippies, antiwar activists, and an assortment of countercultural and underground movements. In 1969, police and gay residents met in a violent confrontation known as the Stonewall Rebellion. The next year members of a radical terrorist group, the Weathermen, blew themselves up while building a bomb in a Greenwich Village townhouse. In the 1980s, the Village became a center for the mobilization against the AIDS epidemic. At the start of the twenty-first century, the Village is a major tourist mecca and continues to be one of the most dynamic and diverse neighborhoods in New York City.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Burrows, Edwin G., and Mike Wallace. Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Gold, Joyce. From Trout Stream to Bohemia: A Walking Guide to Greenwich Village History. New York: Old Warren Road Press, 1988.

Miller, Terry. Greenwich Village and How It Got That Way. New York: Crown, 1990.

Faren R.Siminoff

See alsoNew York City .

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Greenwich Village." Dictionary of American History. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Greenwich Village." Dictionary of American History. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/greenwich-village

"Greenwich Village." Dictionary of American History. . Retrieved August 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/greenwich-village

Greenwich Village

Greenwich Village (grĕn´Ĭch), residential district of lower Manhattan, New York City, extending S from 14th St. to Houston St. and W from Washington Square to the Hudson River. North of the main settlement of New York City in colonial times, in the 1830s it became an exclusive residential section, described in Henry James's novel Washington Square (1880). An influx of foreign immigrants settled there after 1880. Around 1910, the Village gained renown as the home and workshop of artists and of freethinkers. Barns, stables, and houses along the narrow, crooked streets were converted into studios, eating places, nightclubs, theaters, and shops, and the Village acquired a reputation for bohemianism. Interesting old buildings, many dating from the early and mid-1800s, remain, although there is an increasing number of modern apartment houses. Washington Square Park, with its McKim, Mead, and White arch (1892) is a popular meeting place. New York Univ.'s campus surrounds the park.

See J. S. Ramirez, Within Bohemia's Borders (1990); C. Stansell, American Moderns (2000); R. Wetzsteon, Republic of Dreams, Greenwich Village: The American Bohemia, 1910–1960 (2002); G. W. McFarland, Inside Greenwich Village: A New York City Neighborhood, 1898–1918 (2005); J. Strausbaugh, The Village (2013).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Greenwich Village." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Greenwich Village." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/greenwich-village

"Greenwich Village." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/greenwich-village

Greenwich

Greenwich2 Greenwich Village a district of New York City on the lower west side of Manhattan, traditionally associated with writers, artists, and musicians.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Greenwich." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Greenwich." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/greenwich-0

"Greenwich." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Retrieved August 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/greenwich-0