GVSHP is marking March, Women’s History Month, with some great public programs. But today I am going to focus on two men who helped to shape the history, geography, and culture of Greenwich Village and the East Village.
On March 12, 1922, in Lowell, Massachusetts, Jean-Louis Lebris de Kérouac, known to us as Jack Kerouac, was born. His parents were of Quebecois heritage and as a child he was called “ti Jean” a corruption of the French phrase, “Petit Jean.” He played football at Lowell High School, which earned him a scholarship to Columbia University and brought him to New York City.
He dropped out of Columbia, spent some time in the military, and then became associated with Allen Ginsburg, William R. Burroughs, Neal Cassidy and others, known as “The Beats.” They frequented many Greenwich Village locations, including the San Remo Café, at the time located on the corner of Bleecker and MacDougal Streets – and honored with a plaque by GVSHP in the summer of 2013.
We have written about Jack Kerouac here on Off the Grid before. He and his colleagues had a profound effect on the way Greenwich Village is frequently perceived – a hotbed of the avant garde, cutting edge literary, musical and artistic talents.
In a far different time, on March 12, 1651, Petrus Stuyvesant (the last Dutch Director-General of the colony of New Netherland, before it became New York under the British in 1664) purchased the Great Bowery No. 1 and Bowery No. 2 for six thousand four hundred guilders. This property is much of what is now the East Village, and one of its legacies is the historic St. Mark’s in the Bowery Church, on the corner of 2nd Avenue and East 10th Street. The very streets of this neighborhood look the way they do because of the Stuyvesants!
You can read about the National Register of Historic Places registration of the Bowery Historic District here.