NEW YORK (AP) — The city's newest historic landmark is part of a neighborhood where generations of American cultural greats staged their art, music, literature and politics — from Edgar Allan Poe and Bob Dylan to Miles Davis and Allen Ginsberg.
About 250 buildings in Manhattan's Greenwich Village that reach back to the 1800s gained historic district status Tuesday after a unanimous vote by the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission. Row houses, small theaters, cafes and clubs that welcomed the likes of Lenny Bruce and Eugene O'Neill are part of the 13-block South Village Historic District adjoining Washington Square Park.
Commission Chairman Robert B. Tierney called the landmarking, which will make it much more difficult for developers to touch the area, "a slam dunk."
Without landmarking, many famed spots have disappeared, including the San Remo Cafe, which billed itself as America's first Italian coffeehouse and was a favorite hangout of Davis, Jack Kerouac, Dylan Thomas, William Burroughs and others who made the Village "one of the most important cultural and social centers of the city," the commission said.
Musician and software entrepreneur Mark Fiedler, who has lived in the neighborhood for at least three decades, said he was "ecstatic" over the designation.
"We've been waiting a very, very long time for this," he said.
The Village Gate nightclub and Back Fence bar are gone, but the Bitter End survived, along with memories of Peter, Paul and Mary and Woody Allen. Opposite Fiedler's apartment house is a new eight-floor building that blocks what was once his view of the Empire State Building uptown.
Advocates say they fought for years to win landmark status as some storied structures were demolished by developers in favor of new construction. In addition, drastic changes have been made to some 19th- and 20th-century buildings the commission said reflected New York life at its "pinnacle of flamboyance."