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The Women of Village Preservation’s Online Archives

Since our founding in 1980, Village Preservation has cultivated a staggering collection of historic research and resources. Among the jewels of this collection are our Historic Image Archive and our Preservation History Archive. The latter capture in images the history of our neighborhoods and other New York landmarks over the last two and a half centuries, while the former documents the powerful preservation movements which took place in our neighborhoods. 

We have special gratitude for the women who’ve contributed their own work to these resources. The depth of knowledge we have gained from their dedication to capturing and preserving our neighborhoods through the years is indispensable to the work we continue to do today. To show our thanks, take a deep dive into our archives as we explore Greenwich Village, the East Village, and NoHo through these women’s eyes.

Jean Polachek Collection Image Archive Collection

Polachek. Children on tricycles and playing in front of Alexander Lyman Holley Monument, west side of Washington Square Park. From the Village Preservation Image Archives. 1940s.
Polacheck. Woman applying make up with a compact mirror in the fountain in Washington Square, Park, with the Arch behind. From the Village Preservation Image Archives. 1940s.

Jean Polachek was born in Detroit in 1920. It was there she discovered an interest in photography and began shooting on assignment for local publications. Polachek married and moved to New York City, where she continued to do freelance photography, baby portraits, and headshots for actors. In spare moments between work and raising her family, Polachek wandered the city, shooting whatever caught her eye. What resulted is a wondrous portrait of New York City during the 1940s and 1950s, with special devotion to the joyous gatherings of children and women in Washington Square Park.

Carole Teller Image Archive Collection

Teller. Washington Square Arch Wrapped by Artist Francis Hines. From the Village Preservation Image Archives.1980.
Teller. Eldridge Street Garden with Mr. Purple, 213-215 Eldridge Street. From the Village Preservation Image Archives. circa 1980.

Carole Teller, an East Village Resident since the early1960s, turned her lens toward a New York City in flux. She traveled daily through the changing landscape of downtown Manhattan, capturing buildings in the process of being demolished, fading street signs, and fellow New Yorkers wearing the grit of the city like a coat. While she focused largely on her downtown surroundings, she also captured Brooklyn, Midtown, and other locations in her five-part image archive collection. Also be sure to check out Teller’s shots of the filming of The Godfather Part II, which saw East Sixth Street transformed into 1917 Little Italy.

Meredith Jacobson Marciano Image Archive Collection

Jacobson Marciano. Meredith, West Side. Charles and West Street. World Trade Center in background. From the Village Preservation Image Archives.1980.
Jacobson Marciano. Jefferson Theater, 212 E. 14th Street between 2nd & 3rd Aves. Demolished in 2000. From the Village Preservation Image Archives. Date unknown.

Marciano moved to New York in 1986 by way of Boston, where she grew up, to take the next step in her budding film career. She brought with her a trusty Minolta SRT201, a love of Art Deco and mid-century buildings, and a passion for all things pop culture. She shot everything that caught her eye, but most of all she shot the people and places that embodied the “coolness” of our neighborhoods from the 1970s to the early 2000s. As time passed, Marciano would return to some of these spots to find them lost without a trace. Her two-part collection showcases the everyday activism and architecture that made our neighborhoods one-of-a-kind.

Evelyn Haynes’ Preservation History Collection

Evelyn G. Haynes (1909-2001) was a lionhearted preservationist and a pioneering member of the early New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. Haynes was a lifelong New Yorker: she grew up in Brooklyn Heights, attended Smith College, and was an editor at Vogue. The first installment in her vast collection contains photographs, sketches, writings, research, and historic materials connected to Greenwich Village, primarily from the 1960s. The second installment gives us insight into Haynes’ philosophies of preservation and personhood, containing records, correspondences, and archival material connected to the creation of the Greenwich Village Historic District, the Morris-Jumel Mansion in Upper Manhattan, and the architecture of Greenwich Village row houses from the 1960s until the 1980s.

The Association of Village Homeowners’ Preservation History Collection

The Association of Village Homeowners was a community group founded in 1960, which sought to preserve the human scale of Greenwich Village, improve the neighborhood’s parks, and protect the enjoyment and amenities of Village life. This collection includes a guidebook to the architectural styles of 19th Century Greenwich Village rowhouses, written by preservation pioneer Verna Small with the assistance of Regina Kellerman, Village Preservation’s first Executive Director.

Without these women, and many others not mentioned, our understanding of our neighborhoods’ histories as well as the quality and character of the neighborhoods themselves would be drastically diminished. Make sure to check out our complete Historic Image Archive and Preservation History Archive to learn about even more women dedicated to documenting our histories.

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