Tuesday, February 7, 2012

52 years ago today: First mention of the 'East Village' in The New York Times

Some time ago, our old friend Pinhead sent along a clip from The New York Times ... As far as his research could tell, the first time that The New York Times mentioned the East Village in print was on Feb. 7, 1960 — 52 years ago today.

The article was titled "'Village' Spills Across 3D Ave." And it appeared on Page 1. As the article notes, the destruction of the Third Avenue El in 1956 "helped stir up a minor social and realty revolution on the Lower East Side."

And, here we go...


Uh-oh...


And here come the rental agents... in the eighth paragraph of the article, "East Village" makes its appearance...


The article makes a lot of interesting observations... such as the growth of "high-rent apartment houses" that popped up along Fourth Avenue, replacing some second-hand book shops in the process.

You can access (buy) the article at the Times here.

Future trivia: Feb. 5, 2012, was the first day that the Times mentioned "NoEVil."

29 comments:

Mykola ( Mick) Dementiuk said...

I have a memory of the 3rd Ave El. I was perhaps 5 or 6 years old and climbing the staircase on 14th St to take the 3rd Ave El to the Bronx Zoo. So it must have been earlier then 1956 when it was torn down. We lived all over on the Lower East Side.

Jeremiah Moss said...

it's interesting to think about how slowly the gentrification of the East Village happened between 1960 and 2000. and then how it went into overdrive in the first decade of the 2000s.

they seem like two very different eras of gentrification--one taking 40 years and the other taking between a mere 5 - 10.

this has to be worth at least an essay by some urban scholar, right?

Mykola ( Mick) Dementiuk said...

Jeremiah: In practically all my fictional works there is mention the Lower East Side (100 Whores) or Times Square (Times Queer). The characters wander about looking for Something but never come close to even finding it. It's a shame and pity that LES has changed and altered itself to where a long time resident wouldn't be able to recognize it.

Anonymous said...

Jeremiah Moss

It's happening all over the city. And for that we can thank Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of Luxury City.

Shawn Chittle said...

It's all L.E.S. baby. Viva Loisaida!

nygrump said...

Was a cold water flat just what it says - no hot water? I get to ask one stupid question a month.

randall said...

So there's nothing new under the sun then? Perhaps the stage is just being set for a renaissance. I've always thought that every great movement needs a villain.

tacony palmyra said...

Jeremiah: Google "super-gentrification." There are a couple interesting studies on it, one looking at Brooklyn Heights and another in London.

People have been talking about gentrification in Harlem forever (and the Times is basically obsessed) but it's still in that slow, 40 year period where there's lots of yuppies in new construction but the older units are still mostly populated with the working class people who've been there all their lives, plus immigrants who can still afford the rent. It takes a generation to turn over the housing stock, so 40 years sounds about right for the East Village to be transformed into a neighborhood of the NYU-affiliated and transient young professionals.

Then once the neighborhood becomes basically purged of that bottom end of the income latter, it becomes more palatable for the upper end to swoop in. Want to see what the East Village will be like in 10 more years? Look at the West Village!

Anonymous said...

@ Tacony

David Schwimmer is leading the WV charge.

Anonymous said...

excellent work. proves this endless gentrification debate is futile. it's been going on for half a century and will likely rage on beyond all of our deaths.

BabyDave said...

Great find, Pinhead. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Not being alive in 1960, I've got an off-topic question: What exactly was the impetus for demolishing the east side el trains? I'm sure they weren't pretty and were noisy (but they kept the N in Astoria), but why did they knock them down? Seems like it made the subway system less efficient. Was it an effort to encourage rent raises/gentrification in areas where the trains ran? Or was it a safety thing?

Seems like we're spending an awful lot of money building a second train line on the east side now...

bowery boy said...

Gotta agree with the above that it's all on Mayor Mike. Damn, it is time for him to go. I wish I knew what laws he got changed for all this to happen to fast. And, it seems like Quinn and Stringer would just keep the same ole, same ole going. Too bad, I used to like them both.

Goggla said...

So, what is our modern-day El that needs to come down and open up a new frontier?

Anonymous said...

Goggla, Jacob Riis and Lillian Wald.

unashamedbloombergfan said...

@bowery boy and other Bloomberg-bashers: Bloomberg has certainly been friendly to development, but it's not like he sat down one day and said, "Gee, let's find ways to make Manhattan really expensive and really generic."

Much more significant in spurring gentrification than any Bloomberg policy was the enormous increase in demand from wealthy folks from the suburbs.

A big part of that is TV. Sex and the City, Friends and Seinfeld bombarded a generation of suburban couch potatoes with images of NYC as the ultimate hip, fun and safe place for young white people to live.

Meanwhile, Giuliani actually made it safe--although the freakonomics folks might suggest that his job was significantly eased by the legalization of abortion about 20 years earlier.

Crazy Eddie said...

unashamedbloombergfan-Your abortion comment is despicable and racist.

Anonymous said...

"coldwater flat" -- one of those things that sounds a lot cooler than it actually is. kind of like "garnishing your wages", or "wintry mix".

JamesKInIA said...

Crazy Eddie, look again... he didn't mention race. Your brain filled in that detail.

Sean S. said...

@nygrump Fb. 7, 9:33 a.m.:
RE: cold-water flats

I grew up in the 50s in a cold-water, 4-5 room, railroad flat in a tenement building in what is now known as Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.

We had to make our hot water over a Franklin stove in the kitchen. My bedroom was heated by a potbelly stove. Coal was the power.

Around 1956 or so, the City prohibited this kind of heating. Our tenement was retrofitted for steam heat. I believe the stoves remained, but unused.

So, when I read the NYT talking in 1960 about "cold water flats", I questioned the accuracy of that statement.

Btw,The rent had been $25. I think with the steam heat and hot water it went to $35.

In 1967, I moved out of Brooklyn to the EV into a tiny 3-room railroad for $65 a month. Steam heat, hot water.

Finally, in October, 1964, as a college sophomore, I went to a party full of hep cats, folkies, and beatniks on 2nd Avenue and 12th Street. They told me the area was called the "East Village". So, by then, it was common parlance.

Jeremiah Moss said...

thanks Tacony, i will check that out. you make a compelling analysis.

the problem with looking at these old articles is that they can lead us to say, "oh, well, this gentrification debate has been going on forever." and thus dismiss the current debacle happening in the city.

there is a big difference between the gentrification of the 60s, 70s, etc., and the hyper-gentrification of today. this is not business as usual.

Neil Smith talks about just that when he says, "The big perspective is that gentrification has changed tremendously since the ’70s and ’80s. It’s really a systematic class-remaking of city neighborhoods ... it’s about creating entire environments.”

that's huge and we have to pay attention.

Uncle Waltie said...

JamesKInIA said...
Crazy Eddie, look again... he didn't mention race. Your brain filled in that detail.


Did you really not get the allusion or are you just playing dumb?

Anonymous said...

So, what you are saying is that people have been complaining about the distruction of the East Vilage by the influx of someone for more than 50 years. Do you think people were blogging back then saying that the streets made save by Mayor Wagner caused an influx of beatniks and "professionals" to the east village that destroyed the ethnic fabric of our neigborhood forever?? Hmm, sounds familiar.

As for the suggestions above that the "gentrification" of the east village happened since 2000, I can't even imagine where that idea came from. When I graduated from college in 1986, the usual foray into the job market meant you and 2 roomates in an apartment in the east village, yorkville or murray hill.

randall said...

@ Jeremiah Moss

I'm a huge fan of your blog, but I think your assessment that this is not business as usual is inaccurate. This most certainly is "business as usual" for the end of the 20th century, at least this portion the 21st century even though it is a departure from how things were done in the past, it is how gentrification is done now.

Anonymous said...

For anyone interested, there is a very good documentary, The Vanishing City (vanishingny.org). It posits that while NYC has been on this track since the 70s, it has accelerated drastically under Bloomberg.

Ken from Ken's Kitchen said...

unashamedbloombergfan

Baloney.

Real estate developers have worked hand in hand with the Bloomberg admin to pressure community boards into easing development laws in poor and working-class neighborhoods while the mayor turned neighborhoods upside down with massive rezonings all over the city (85 rezonings between 2003 - 2008). As a result of his rezoning efforts, smaller buildings got torn down to allow for bigger buildings with millions of square feet of office space, hotels, and "luxury" housing.

Small businesses and working New Yorkers got pushed out for, and I'm quoting you, "young white people." Not the reverse.

Jeremiah Moss said...

Randall, i agree this is business as usual for the past decade or so. i'm saying the gentrification we see today is not the gentrification of 1960, when this article was written, so we can't just write it off as "this has always been happening."

take a look at what Neil Smith has to say about how gentrification has changed over the past few decades--he says it better than me:

http://vanishingnewyork.blogspot.com/2011/08/smith-on-gentrification.html

mch said...

Coming late to this. I remember "East Village" from the 1960's, but don't know if it really referred to the same area(s) as the term does now. Amazing how these referents shift over (sometimes very short) time. I'm pretty sure that my mother, b. in 1918, only spoke of "the Village" (where she lived in the late 30's and 40's), in areas that today would be "west Village."

Mostly wanted to remember my grandfather's memories (said mother's father). He was born in the early 1890's and remembered well when "the Village" was that area below the swamp/brook at 14th St.

Even my mother's generation remembered when the Bronx still meant cornfields.

randall said...

@ Vanishing NY

I understood your point. I have read most of that Smith article you linked to.

I guess I wasn't too clear on my point which was that trying to compare urban development/gentrification that occurred in the 50's and 60's to urban development/gentrification in the 90's and 00's is almost like comparing apples and oranges since business practices/urban development the world over, NYC being no exception, have changed so dramatically.

So I guess my (rather long winded) point is that gentrification has always happened, the world in which it happens has changed and the way it takes shape today is emblematic of the world in which it is occurring.