← Back

Time Traveling with The Villager

It is well known that newspapers were once the place to go for everything: international news, an apartment, weekend plans, and maybe even a date. They might no longer play quite so central a role in our lives, but for anyone interested in historical research, they’re still one of the best resources out there. Finding a lead in an archival paper can be almost as helpful as a letter written by a party involved in your subject, and can provide a window into a more intimate social context that might be missed with broader strokes. 

Since we do have our trusty screens, and the screens can lead us to old newspapers…let’s check out some old issues of The Villager newspaper (with immense gratitude to Corinne Neary at Jefferson Market Library, who led a huge endeavor to make scans of the paper from 1959-1999 available here) and see what was happening on this day when the paper was (almost) all we had.

August 4, 1966

Feel like a movie? Groovy! Cinéma Village at 22 East 12th Street (still the oldest continuously operating cinema in Greenwich Village, and a 2020 Village Awardee) was showing Help and A Hard Day’s Night

If you’re hungry after all of that Beatlemania, I heard some artists talking about going to the Albert French Restaurant at the Hotel Albert on East 11th (now an apartment complex) where, among many other noteworthy guests, the Lovin’ Spoonful stayed and wrote “Do You Believe in Magic.” A complete dinner for $3.25, surrounded by art, and followed by a free, guided tour of Greenwich Village? Sounds pretty magical to us.

Albert French Restaurant c. 1962. SE corner of East 11th Street and University Place. Photo by Robert Otter.

Hopefully we can also make the 9:30 show at (the no-longer extant) Gerde’s Folk City, 11 West 4th Street, where John Lee Hooker, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, Sonic Youth, and many other legends played, and got a significant boost to their careers (Dylan played his first gig there in 1961, and debuted an early version of “Blowin’ In The Wind” there in 1962). All that history with no cover charge!

Gerde’s Folk City, courtesy of PopSpotsNYC.

August 4, 1977

Stay tuned for the fall! “The Old Merchant’s House at 29 E. 4th St. will be open to the public by early November for guided tours.” An earlier restoration of the Museum was almost complete. Luckily, you don’t have to wait until November to visit.

And the category is…Some Things Never Change.

The caption reads: “A Visual Letter to the Editor: Village resident Tony Graham, a graphic artist and five-year veteran of the Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit, submitted this graphic statement on New York University’s recent decision to withdraw its participation from the 46-year-old exhibit. NYU’s action, based on reported property damage sustained during the show, effectively removes 60% of the show’s exhibition space.” Unfortunately, although they have also repurposed historic buildings, the University’s alteration of the neighborhood began long, long ago…Right along Washington Square Park, with the destruction of Genius Row in 1948. At least the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation will be on the scene in three years!

For lunch or dinner, you can stop by Sevilla at 62 Charles Street, which opened in 1936. After changing ownership several times, the restaurant was sold to in-house chef José Lloves and his partner Antonio Rodriguez, who worked as a waiter at Sevilla for 30 years until 1985. Mr. Lloves partnered with his brother Bienvenido Alvarez in 1972, and bought the building in 1984. His son Antonio Lloves has made sure that you can still visit the oldest Spanish restaurant in Greenwich Village!

Archival photo courtesy of Sevilla’s website.

August 4, 1988

Our friends at La MaMa (64 East 4th Street) once hosted Road, a play by Jim Cartwright, starring Kevin Bacon and Joan Cusack. Check out what the Villager had to say on this day in 1988…

(excerpt from a larger review by Ruis Woertendyke)

Finally, if you have a sweet tooth, stop by Vesuvio Bakery, which has been serving Villagers treats since 1920.

For more up-to-date recommendations for summer adventures in our neighborhoods that don’t require a time machine, we’d point you to our many wonderful Businesses of the Month, Welcome to the Neighborhood posts, and our ongoing Small Business, Big History map.

One response to “Time Traveling with The Villager

  1. Was brownies the first natural eatery in New York, the US or the world? How I loved having lunch or dinner there as a grad student army social work program on fifth ave! I still have their official cookbook.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *