The ghosts of Greenwich Village still walk its rainy streets

September 22, 2013

Come along with me on a trip back in time to a neighborhood that vibrated with creativity of all kinds: Greenwich Village.
Greenwich Village collage music
On a rainy spring day a group of girlfriends and I did a tour of the Greenwich Village haunts that played such a huge role in the Beats generation and the early days of the 1960s.

The Bohemian vibe was born partly of what at the time was its affordability as a place to live and the developing cabarets that popped up all over. This began early in the 1950s. Poet Dylan Thomas lived and died in the Village in 1953–way early–and of course, over time, the area became a high-profile incubator for creatives.

The Greenwich Village music scene was hopping, with many jazz greats and folksinger Bob Dylan living in the Village, playing at Village cafes like Cafe Wha! and, like Dylan, even being photographed on its streets for an album cover. Folk music developed and came of age in the neighborhood.  A bit later, Jimi Hendrix came on the scene, a meteoric flash in Village history.  Even with rain pouring down it was easy to see the area’s appeal and sense the ghosts of writers and musicians that developed their talent on its streets and in its cafes.
Gay Greenwich
The Village had a starring role in gay history, too, with the Stonewall Inn serving as the ignition point for a spontaneous riot on June 28, 1969 resulting from a police raid of the bar.  About a decade ago a friend and I rented an apartment for a week right next door to the Inn and enjoyed spending time in the nearby park, letting our imaginations run wild in that era and celebrating that times have certainly changed.  Gay rights is one topic on which Americans are more progressive than ever, thankfully.

cafes bars

Recognize these Village landmark names?

The Village lost much of its Bohemian vibe as it became more and more expensive to live there. Struggling artists, writer and musicians can’t afford it, and so at least for me, its glory days can only live in my imagination.

We had the pleasure of spending a few hours in May with a tour guide who knew many of the Beat poets and who guided us through the rain-drenched streets that day.  He shared wonderful anecdotes.  I’ve embedded some video I took below for your viewing pleasure.

Video below

and another

2 comments on “The ghosts of Greenwich Village still walk its rainy streets
  1. I love the Village. What’s the name of that little deadend street with the pretty little walk-ups? I can’t remember….

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