By Brian J. Pape, AIA
Greenwich Village and the area of Sheridan Square was a popular tourist destination during the 1910s and 1920s, helped by the development of the West Side subway line in 1918.
The Greenwich Village Theatre was originally built for the Greenwich Village Players, who, like the Washington Square Players, were amateur players.
Sinclair Lewis satirized prominent Greenwich Village figures (who he clearly thought were taking themselves too seriously) and the influx of tourists in Hobohemia, a short story that he adapted into a play for the theater in 1919. The play’s character of Mr. Brown decides that “the only problem with bohemia is that the bohemians don’t know how to make a profit from it.”
The Greenwich Village Follies, with scenes and songs that also parodied Greenwich Village life and current events, opened at the Greenwich Village Theatre in 1919. Following the success of the Follies, the show moved to the Schubert Theatre on Broadway a month after it had opened downtown. Nevertheless, the theater was so influential, that it helped form the reputation of the area as a creative enclave.