By Corinne Neary
It’s no secret that Greenwich Village is one of the most famous neighborhoods in the world, and some of its most fascinating stories come not just from the renowned artists and writers that put Greenwich Village on the map but from the day-to-day lives of its residents. When we at the Jefferson Market Library began our neighborhood Oral History project in 2013, we learned that the small objects, ephemera and mementos collected over a lifetime tell an important story. We’re now working on gathering these personal objects and narratives for our Greenwich Village Ephemera Project, which kicks off with an opening reception Friday, April 1st at 6:00pm. After that, we’ll be showing the objects—along with their stories—in our lobby display case on a rotating basis.
Remember the Loews Sheridan Theater at 7th Avenue and West 12th Street? The theater was demolished in 1969, but not before longtime Villager Barbara Kahn was able to get her hands on a beautiful stained glass exit sign, right before the demolition crew went to work. We’ll be displaying the sign, along with Barbara’s story.
Each June Gay Pride is a huge event in the Village, and all over the city. Kate Walter, who has been attending the Pride Parade since moving to the city in 1975, has loaned us dozens of buttons from different years of the parade, mostly from the 1980s. We will display buttons advertising Lesbian and Gay Switchboards, The New York Memorial Quilt, and the “International March for Lesbian and Gay Freedom” held on September 30, 1984.
Greenwich Village is now full of expensive restaurants and boutiques, but that’s not how the “Way Way West” Village was when Laurie Rippon moved next door to the Superior Ink factory on West 12th Street in 1983. She’s submitted a 1985 article from the Daily News, detailing the fight of residents to have a traffic light installed at the corner of Washington Street and West 12th Street. The article includes a picture of her twins—now 33—being pushed in a double stroller.
We definitely have more surprises and Village tales in store and if you’d be interested in loaning us a personal object that tells a story, we’d love to include it in our opening event! Objects must be small – the display case is just 13 x 13 inches – and should help tell a personal narrative. Please contact Corinne Neary at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-242-5233. To be included in the opening reception on April 1st, the objects should be submitted by March 10th.