This weekend, tour guide Lawrence Frommer and Fourth Arts Block executive director Tamara Greenfield led a tour of East 4th Street between the Bowery and 2nd Avenue for GVSHP. (Want to hear in advance about GVSHP’s free lecture and tour series? Sign up for our monthly event emails.) The tour provided an overview of Fourth Arts Block, an umbrella organization for the more than a dozen arts groups, 10 cultural facilities and 17 performance and rehearsal venues that make up the East 4th Street Cultural District, as well as histories of the eight buildings owned by FAB member theaters and cultural organizations.
Couldn’t make the tour? Here are three questions asked by tour participants that helped even GVSHP, a huge fan of the Fourth Arts Block, learn something new.
Q. What does the term naturally occurring cultural district mean?
A. The Fourth Arts Block is one of only three cultural districts in New York City, and the only cultural district in Manhattan. FAB took some liberties with the term “naturally occurring retirement community” to describe their cultural district. Like a naturally occurring retirement community, the arts organizations that make their home on the block did so naturally, over a sustained period of time. Unlike Lincoln Center, a home to the arts purpose-built as part of the Lincoln Square Renewal Project, FAB theaters set up shop in existing buildings, enhancing residential life on the block. It was not until 2001 that the arts groups banded together to fight for ownership of their buildings and for cultural district status.
Q. Who owns the building at 59-61 East 4th Street where the organizations Fourth Arts Block, Cooper Square Committee, Creative Time, Works in Progress, and WOW Café Theatre are located?
A. Each of the eight buildings transferred by the city to Fourth Arts Block organizations in 2005 has its own ownership structure. 59-61 East 4th Street is run like a condo – with each organization having ownership of their space, with each contributing to building-wide maintenance.
Q. Who completed the façade restoration of 62 East Fourth Street?
A. The recently unveiled façade restoration of 62 East Fourth Street was financed by New York City. SuperStructures, an architectural and engineering firm specializing in preservation, completed the restoration. Check out GVSHP’s recent post on the lovely renovation. SuperStructures is not a stranger to historic Village properties. The firm completed a façade and roof restoration of Westbeth and is currently working on the façade of the Jefferson Market Branch Library.