Author(s): John Strausbaugh
The most famous neighborhood in the world, Greenwich Village has been home to outcasts of diverse persuasions for more than four hundred years, from half-free African slaves to working-class immigrants, artistic bohemians to politicians. Illustrated with thirty-two pages of black-and-white photos, "The Village" is John Strausbaugh's engaging narrative history of this unique New York neighborhood's life - a tapestry that unrolls across four centuries, from its origins as a rural frontier of New Amsterdam in the 1600s through its long reign as the Left Bank of America in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to its current status as an affluent bedroom community and tourist magnet. Strausbaugh traces the way in which Greenwich Village has been a culture engine, a magnet of tolerance, freedom, creativity, and activism. It has long attracted nonconformists-artists, radicals, visionaries, misfits, and life-adventurers-who have collided, collaborated, fused and feuded, developing ideas and creating art, drama, poetry, literature, filmmaking, and folk music that transformed the world. Edgar Allan Poe, Walt Whitman, Marcel Duchamp, James Baldwin, Norman Mailer, Allen Ginsberg, E. E. Cummings, Emma Goldman, Margaret Sanger, Upton Sinclair, Anais Nin, Eugene O'Neill, Fiorello La Guardia, Gene Tunney, mobster Vincent Chin Gigante, Jackson Pollock, Merce Cunningham, Charlie Parker, Woody Guthrie, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Grace Paley, and Edmund White are among the many remarkable individuals who made the Village the pinnacle of culture, politics, and social movements in America and around the world. From Dutch farmers and Washington Square patricians to slaves and bohemians, Prohibition-era speakeasies to Stonewall, Abstract Expressionism to AIDS, the Triangle Shirt Waist fire to today's upscale condos and four-star restaurants, the connecting narratives of "The Village" tell a fresh story of America itself.
"[A] loving and thoroughly researched look at what [Strausbaugh] calls 'a zone of rogues and outcasts from the start.' . . . Fine social history humanized with a sort of paradise-lost wistfulness."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
John Strausbaugh is a journalist and a cultural commentator based in New York City and one-time host of the New York Times' Weekend Explorer Series.