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Exploring Virtual Village Voices, Part 5: Billie Holiday, Edward Hopper, and Jane Jacobs

In 2021 and 2022, Village Preservation developed an innovative outdoor public art exhibition that was displayed throughout Greenwich Village, the East Village, and NoHo. VILLAGE VOICES featured photographs, artifacts, and soundscape recordings to celebrate and honor the artistic, social, political, and cultural movements that have grown in our neighborhoods, and the people who gave them voice. 

We have now made those exhibits permanently available online. Today we explore three more of our 31 shadowboxes from the event: Billie Holiday, Edward Hopper, and Jane Jacobs.

Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday is considered one of the preeminent jazz vocalists of all time. She made her mark in the Jazz clubs of Harlem, but rose to even greater prominence in Greenwich Village, first singing the song Strange Fruit at Cafe Society, located at 1 Sheridan Square, between West 4th Street and Washington Place. The song was originally written as a poem by Abel Meeropol in 1937. It is a searing protest of American racism, state-sanctioned violence, and rages against the systems in place at the time that kept races divided and Black Americans perpetually behind barriers. When Cafe Society opened in 1938, it was the first racially integrated nightclub in the entire city. 

Click here to read more about Billie Holiday.

The audio is narrated by actress Necar Zadigan.

Edward Hopper

Edward Hopper lived and worked for 53 years at 3 Washington Square North.  This is but one of many sites in the Village intimately connected to Edward Hopper and his paintings. The exterior and interiors of countless Village buildings were the inspiration for many of Hopper’s most famous works of art.

Click here to read more about Edward Hopper and his extensive connections to the Village.

Narrating the audio is Adam Wienberg, the former Alice Pratt Brown Director of the Whitney Museum of American Art for 20 years.

Jane Jacobs

Jane Jacobs lived at 555 Hudson Street where she conceived her groundbreaking book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities.

Jacobs was inspired by what she saw outside her door on active, mixed-use streets like Hudson Street to formulate her theories of ‘the sidewalk ballet’ and ‘eyes on the street’ as essential elements to the healthy functioning of cities and neighborhoods. Whereas the conventional wisdom of urban planning of the day was that only orderly spaces with segregated uses and wide open space could succeed, Jacobs saw how the dense, messy, mixed nature of people and activities on her doorstep kept her local shops well patronized, her streets safe with watchful eyes, her neighborhood vibrant, and her neighbors interconnected.

Click here to read more about Jane Jacobs.

The audio is narrated by Rachel Maddow, host of the Emmy Award-winning Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC.

Click here to access all 31 Village Voices exhibits.

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