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GVSHP Oral History: Gloria McDarrah

Gloria McDarrah at her home, February 27, 2014. Photo by Liza Zapol.
Gloria McDarrah at her home, February 27, 2014. Photo by Liza Zapol.

Village Preservation is excited to share our oral history collection with the public, and hope they will shed more light on what makes Greenwich Village and the East Village such unique and vibrant areas. Each of these histories highlights the experiences and insights of long-time residents, usually active in the arts, culture, preservation, business, or civic life of the neighborhood. These posts can be found here.

Gloria McDarrah was born on June 22, 1932 in the Bronx to a family of Ukrainian immigrants. They later moved to 108 East 4th Street and then to Lebanon, Pennsylvania where her father worked in the garment industry. Gloria visited New York City once a year throughout her childhood, staying with family at her former 108 East 4th Street home. Gloria has fond memories of the Jewish neighborhood and Jewish delis on 2nd Avenue, as well as visiting Sara Delano Park, Russ & Daughters, and movie theaters.

St. Luke's School
St. Luke’s School

After graduating from Penn State, she moved to New York City in 1953, where she began her career in publishing. During this time, she lived in the Village at both 53 West 11th Street and then 56 West 12th Street. A few years after moving to Village, Gloria married Fred McDarrah, who had been a WWII soldier stationed in Japan. He sold advertising at The Village Voice and worked as a photographer. The McDarrah’s raised two sons, Tim and Patrick.

In her GVSHP oral history, Gloria recalls:

“The kids went to P.S. 41. After St. Luke’s Patrick went to 41 also. They would say, ‘Oh, there are drug dealers in the park’. And that was part of life. They went to school after second grade or so by themselves. And now I don’t think anyone does that until they’re like fifteen or something. It’s quite different.”

Gloria continued her career in publishing at St. Martin’s, Grosset and Dunlap and Frommer’s. She also worked for the Landmarks Preservation Commission and received a Master’s in Education, after which she taught at Williamsburg Junior high School 50 and St. Luke’s School. Gloria resided at 64 Thompson Street in a tenement apartment for several years. She enjoyed the neighborhood and Italian community. Since 1967, she has lived at 505 LaGuardia Place, which is where she lives today. She notes the ongoing controversies surrounding NYU that affect the neighborhood.

505 LaGuardia Place
505 LaGuardia Place

As a long-time member of GVSHP and an active Village resident, Gloria states, “I hope that NYU will fold its tent and go away and leave us alone. I hope that the Greenwich Village Historic District gets enlarged. And I hope that the Village remains an entity; that it doesn’t just fade away.”

Listen to a short audio clip or access the transcript from Gloria McDarrah’s oral history here.

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