Our new interactive tool “Virtual Village” brings users on unique and unexpected journeys through the rich historic neighborhood South of Union Square. In addition to featuring basic information on each one of the two hundred buildings located here, the tool includes nearly forty themed tours that showcase the neighborhood’s many dynamic and varied layers of significance. “Virtual Village” is an ongoing project, and is consistently being updated as new information comes to light. Since the map was launched just a month ago, we have added a number of place-based histories. These include the home of a famed counterculture icon; a Puerto Rican cafe and theater; an underground shop where celebrity designers flocked for vintage fashion magazines; the office of the largest chocolate maker in the country; a controversial best-selling author; and a renowned designer of piano sheet music.
Abbie Hoffman and Bret Easton Ellis, 114-118 East 13th Street
Abbie Hoffman (November 30, 1936 — April 12, 1989) was a political activist and 1960s counterculture icon. Hoffman is well known for founding the Youth International Party, called the “Yippies,” a political group without official membership or leadership. He was also part of the “Chicago 7,” a group of activists who coordinated anti-Vietnam War protests at the Democratic National Convention in 1968 and were indicted by a grand jury the following year. The defendants used the trial as a way to draw attention to their cause over six months, coordinating demonstrations and appearances by celebrity activists.
According to FBI files on Hoffman, he was residing at 114-118 East 13th Street as of December, 1970. The book Assault on the Left: The FBI and the Sixties Antiwar Movement, by James Kirkpatrick Davis and Edwin Hoyt, states that Hoffman and his wife Anita lived in a rooftop apartment in this building, years before its formal conversion to residential use.
Author Bret Easton Ellis (b. March 7, 1964), who wrote the 1991 bestseller American Psycho, owned an apartment at 114-118 East 13th Street as of 2016. According to Ellis’ statement in a 6sqft article, he lived here during the 1980s, and wrote American Psycho while at this address.
Rincón Taíno, 113 East 12th Street
The Puerto Rican club, cafe, theater, and gallery Rincón Taíno was located at 113 East 12th Street in the 1980s. According to a 1983 New York Times article, its largest-scale production at that time was its “Festival of the Americas,” two nights of 10-act bills performed at Symphony Space on Broadway at 95th Street.
Other productions by Rincón Taíno included the U.S. premiere of the comedy “Doña Ramona” by an Uruguayan playwright, and the zarzuela (a Spanish musical-drama genre) El Barberillo de Lavapiés, put together by Concertante Musical Society.
Gallagher’s Paper Collectibles, 126-128 East 12th Street
From at least the 1990s until 2008, the basement of 126-128 East 12th Street housed the legendary Gallagher’s Paper Collectibles. Owned by Michael Gallagher, the store sold vintage fashion magazines, photographs, and rare art books. Among Gallagher’s estimated one million total items, according to a 2007 Village Voice article, were a hundred years’ worth of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar issues.
The city’s most renowned fashion designers, photographers, and art directors were said to come here for inspiration. The business’ customers included Anna Sui, Marc Jacobs, Donna Karan, Steven Meisel, Richard Avedon, Annie Leibovitz, Craig McDean, Bruce Weber, and Lauren Hutton.
Huyler’s Lucheonettes, 110-112 East 13th Street
Huyler’s Luncheonettes, Inc. moved to 110-112 East 13th Street in 1928. The arrival of Huyler’s at this location represents a key transitional moment in the history of the company, once the nation’s largest and most prominent chocolate maker.
Founded by John Seys Huyler and incorporated in 1881, Huyler’s operated a chain of stores throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. When Huyler passed away in 1911, the company included 54 stores, 14 factories, and 2,000 workers, making it one of the — if not the — largest candy and confectionery manufacturer in the United States. Amazingly, Milton S. Hershey worked at Huyler’s from 1883-85 before building his famed chocolate business.
In the 1920s, Huyler’s broke new ground with its development of “luncheonettes,” which were open to the street and uniquely allowed passers-by to look directly into the stores. By 1927, D.A. Schulte Retail Stores Corporation had purchased Huyler’s, and sought to further modernize and rebrand the company by combining the luncheonettes with tobacco counters. Owner David Arthur Schulte established Huyler’s Luncheonettes, Inc. to operate these establishments, and moved the company out of its longtime home on Irving Place to 110-112 East 13th Street. According to a 1928 New York Times article, the new space was intended to be used for “offices, a showroom and the manufacture of ice-cream, candy and bakery products.”
The Huyler Building at 374 Delaware Avenue in Buffalo, New York is listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places.
Lithographer R. Teller, 134-136 East 13th Street
Lithographer R. Teller was located at 136 East 13th Street in the late 19th century. Teller’s work, which includes illustrated piano sheet music, is now held at the Lester S. Levy Sheet Music Collection of the Johns Hopkins Libraries & Museums, the NYPL Digital Collections, UC Berkeley, and the Smithsonian.
The presence of R. Teller here is emblematic of the neighborhood’s history as a hub of both art and piano manufacturing.
Explore the “Virtual Village”
#SouthOfUnionSquare is an irreplaceable piece of New York, American, and world history, and an unprotected but essential slice of Greenwich Village and the East Village. We hope you’ll enjoy, explore, and advocate for saving this amazing neighborhood as we continue to add new layers of history to the “Virtual Village” tool.