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A Greenwich Village Guide: 1959

Although more and more of the research that GVSHP documents and shares is done online today, we also house a modest non-circulating resource library which contains fiction and non-fiction books, reports and guides on the subject areas of Greenwich Village, Historic Preservation, and New York City history. The library also contains hard copies of designation reports for our neighborhoods and several individual landmarks.

To illustrate some of the materials we have to offer, today we’re going to take a look through the 1959 Greenwich Village Guide book published under the auspices of The Villager newspaper.

Useful for researchers when they’re looking for commercial establishments that may have since gone out of business, the guidebook offers a historical narrative of the West and South Villages as well as then current commentary on the neighborhood — such as bemoaning NYU’s huge construction pit along Washington Square South, where the university was building the International Style Loeb Student Center (predecessor of today’s Kimmel Center).

The advertisements sprinkled throughout the guidebook show us businesses that have long since faded into memory, but they also offer a look at number that are still going strong today.

2008 GVSHP Village Award winner Faicco’s Pork Shop was already touting its three generations of experience in 1959. At the turn of the nineteenth century, Edward Faicco opened Faicco’s Pork Store on Thompson Street near St. Anthony of Pauda church. A generation later in the 1940s, Thomas Faicco moved the store to its current location on Bleecker Street while his brother Joseph left and opened his own shop in Brooklyn.

Another GVSHP Village Award winner (from 2011) that can be found in the guidebook is McNulty’s Tea and Coffee Company on Christopher Street. Opened in 1895 several storefronts away from its current location on Christopher Street, McNulty’s still keeps up a well-caffeinated pace under owners (since 1980) Wing and David Wong.

Astor Wines & Spirits was long an institution along the south west corner of Astor Place, and today keeps the tradition alive after its recent move and expansion south along Lafayette Street to the landmarked DeVinne Press Building.

In addition to advertisements for businesses and services, the guidebook also features sponsorships from local politicians and political institutions.

To the right you can see the sponsorship ad in the guidebook from a young Republican congressman who would become mayor of a turbulent New York City just a few years later.

Lindsay would eventually be followed in Congress by a notable Villager, Ed Koch, who would of course also one day become mayor.

Though Village political figures of the time like Ed Koch,Carol Greitzer, and others (via the Village Independent Democrats) represented a new reformist spirit for New York City’s patronage-infused Democratic party, we can see evidence in the guidebook that the presence of Tammany Hall remained entrenched during the late 1950s.  Featured with a full-page advertisement is the political clubhouse of powerful Tammany kingmaker and Village District Leader Carmine De Sapio. At his Tamawa Regular Democratic Club on 7th Avenue South you could have a laundry list of grievances addressed in one stop.

You can check out the variety of hard-copy and online resources GVSHP has to off er on our website’s Resources Page.

And if delving into all this historic advertising has got you hungry, the the back cover of the guidebook can point you to a most reasonably-priced meal option…

2 responses to “A Greenwich Village Guide: 1959

  1. Many years ago, I was gifted a slim book called “The New Guide to Greenwich Village”. There’s no copyright date, but given that they mention the upcoming Washington Square Village development and the fact that the bus turnaround in the Park had just been closed, I place it at about 1959.

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