March 2, 2012, marked 50 years that the first tenant moved into 350 Bleecker Street. The tenant, Janet Preen Tidwell, still lives in the building, as do a number of long-time residents. While Janet has lived in several apartments, Jean Paradise and her husband John moved in around the same time and stayed in one place. “We had our choice of apartments,” says Jean, “so we chose a top floor corner, and I am still here, fifty years later.”
The area was originally a farm belonging to the Bleecker Family. In 1808, Anthony Bleecker and his wife deeded to the city a major portion of the land on which Bleecker Street now stands. During its 50 years of existence, the building itself has witnessed enormous changes in the West Village, from bohemian and artistic to serving as the cradle of the gay and lesbian rights movement – in the aftermath of the 1969 Stonewall uprising, early meetings of gay community members were held in an apartment at 350 – to now being a mecca of retail shopping for visitors from around the world.
“In the early days, there were very few children,” note Helen and Jack Katz, who have lived at 350 44 years, and are now the “de facto” grandparent figures for many of the children – and dogs – in the building.
On March 2, there was a reception in the lobby honoring the long-time – and short-time (under 20 years) – residents, and a countdown was held in descending years of residency, with a sharing of anecdotes from over the years. In addition, on May 17, the first building roof party of the year was a 50th Anniversary celebration officially kicking off the summer roof party season. The legacy of the long-time residents carries through to middle-time and brand new residents, and thanks to their efforts over these past 50 years, 350 Bleecker has developed and maintained the strongest of resident communities.
On a poignant note, one of the longest term residents – over 40 years – Lori Stevens, was at the March 2 gathering and she shared numerous anecdotes, as well as posing with other residents for this group picture. In a very sad development, Lori was struck and killed by a taxi in early May, while legally crossing the street at Jane and Hudson Streets with her little Cairn terrier, Moose. In a testament to Lori and the building’s close-knit community, a memorial service was held for Lori on May 19, also on the roof, and there was a wonderful turnout of residents and local neighbors who knew Lori and Moose, who came to pay their respects and share memories. Adam Granger, a life-long resident (he came to 350 with his twin brother when they were 4 months old), honored Lori by singing a flawless rendition of “Let it Be,” accompanying himself on guitar. On a happier note, little Moose was adopted by neighbors in the building, and she will carry Lori’s memory with her here at 350.
Armanda Squadrilli is SVP and Associate Broker at Prudential Douglas Elliman real estate. She has lived in the West Village for 20 years, the last 12 at 350 Bleecker, and writes on a variety of subjects, including essays on local culture, dogs and dog rescue, motorcycling, and her family. You’ll see Armanda walking her three Australian cattle Dogs in the neighborhood, and Friday, the smiling, three-legged fellow, will always stop to say hello.