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What’s So Special About the South Village?

Iconic corners in three of the South Village’s historic districts (l. to r.): Our Lady of Pompeii Church (Greenwich Village Historic District Extension II — designated 2010; MacDougal Street and Minetta Lane (South Village Historic District — designated 2013; Sullivan Street (Sullivan Thompson Historic District — designated 2016)

Village Preservation kicked off its campaign to honor, document, and seek landmark designation for the South Village and its remarkable immigrant and artistic histories in December 2006, and completed the effort in December 2016 with designation of the third and final phase of our proposed South Village Historic District, the largest expansion of landmark protections in the neighborhood since 1969. Starting in 2023, we now mark each December as “South Village Month,” to celebrate this special neighborhood south of Washington Square and West 4th Street, and to remember the great efforts of so many to ensure this neighborhood’s preservation. 

So if you’re wondering “What’s so special about the South Village?,” here are just a few of the things:

(l. to r.) St. Anthony of Paudua Church; “Little Africa” ca. 1900; ‘Eve’s Hangout’ lesbian bar on MacDougal Street, ca. 1925
(l. to r.) Allen Ginberg, Peter Orlovsky, and friends outisde Kettle of Fish, 114 MacDougal St., courtesy of Estate of Fred W. McDarrah, used by permission; Izzy Young outside Izzy’s Folklore Center; Cafe Wha?
(l. to r.) Lenny Bruce; ‘The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan’ (Jones Street); Neil Young’s ‘After the Gold Rush’ (MacDougal Street)
  • It was where Lenny Bruce was notoriously arrested for his “obscene” performances. 
  • It’s where many of the great album covers of the 20th century of the 20th century were shot, from “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” to Neil Young’s “After the Gold Rush.”
  • It’s home to five New York City historic districts, more than a dozen individual landmarks, and an 800-building National Register of Historic Places district that’s one of the largest in New York City. 
(l. to r.) Early 19th c. houses in the Charlton-King-VanDam Historic District; Caffe Reggio; Provincetown Playhouse
(l. to r.) The Fantasticks at the Sullivan Street Playhouse; Little Red Schoolhouse; 233-37 Bleecker Street
  • It’s home to the likely inspiration for Edward Hopper’s iconic painting, “Early Sunday Morning.” 
(counterclockwise from top) The Heterodoxy Club; Rocky Horror Picture Show Midnight Show at the Waverly Theater; Mills House No. 1 on Bleecker Street
  • It’s where feminists came to argue for social change in the early 20th century at the Heterodoxy Club
(l. to r.) Lucy Cecere receiving a Village Award; Lucy and Lenny; Unveiling of “Lucy & Lenny Cecere Way” on MacDougal Street next to Lucy and Lenny’s longtime home and business

Join us in celebrating all things South Village! Find out more here and here.

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