About The Village:
A lively anecdotal history of Greenwich Village, the prodigiously influential and infamous New York City neighborhood, from the 1600s to the present.
The most famous neighborhood in the world, Greenwich Village has been home to outcasts of diverse persuasions—from "half-free" Africans to working-class immigrants, from artists to politicians—for almost four hundred years. In his magisterial new book, cultural commentator John Strausbaugh weaves an absorbing narrative history of the Village, a tapestry that unrolls from its origins as a rural frontier of New Amsterdam in the 1600s through its long reign as the Left Bank of America in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, from its seat as the epicenter of the gay rights movement to its current status as an affluent bedroom community and tourist magnet.
Strausbaugh—"a particularly gifted chronicler of New Yorkiana" (Atlantic Monthly)—traces the Village's role as a culture engine, a bastion of tolerance, freedom, creativity, and activism that has spurred cultural change on a national, and sometimes even international, scale. He brings to life the long line of famous nonconformists who have collided there, collaborating, fusing and feuding, developing the ideas and creating the art that forever altered societal norms. In these pages, geniuses are made and destroyed, careers are launched, and revolutions are born. Poe, Whitman, Cather, Baldwin, Kerouac, Mailer, Ginsberg, O'Neill, Pollock, La Guardia, Koch, Hendrix, and Dylan all come together across the ages, at a cultural crossroads the likes of which we may never see again.
From Dutch farmers and Washington Square patricians to slaves and bohemians, from Prohibition-era speakeasies to Stonewall, from Abstract Expressionism to AIDS, and from the Triangle Shirtwaist fire to today's upscale condos and four-star restaurants, the connecting narratives of The Village tell the fresh and unforgettable story of America itself.
"…a buoyant, 600-page romp through the neighborhood's countercultural history." -The New York Times
"If nothing else, the book represents an enormous amount of research and provides hours of entertaining reading." -The Washington Post - Michael Dirda
"In this sprawling, crowded, biography on one of New York City's more alluring and storied neighborhoods, former New York Times commentator Strausbaugh traces the history of Greenwich Village from its beginning as bucolic countryside to its current incarnation as both tourist destination and astringent residence for the elite. In between, Strausbaugh introduces a dizzying array of historical figures and events so salacious the book reads more like one long gossip column full of sex, drugs, alcohol, violence, art, music, the mob, and more. None of this is a bad thing; for long stretches, the pages practically turn themselves. Along the way, readers are fed fascinating little tidbits and images: Washington Square Park as a boggy mass grave site for the city's paupers and Yellow fever victims, the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay and her sister Norma teaching themselves to swear while darning socks, a drunk Jackson Pollock's frequent violent outbursts at the Cedar Street Tavern, and much, much more. No citation will do the book justice; it deserves to be read while walking below 14th Street silently mourning the loss of a neighborhood that has given so much by way of art and culture." -Publishers Weekly
"Strausbaugh has produced the definitive history of America’s bohemian wellspring and prototypical modern neighborhood with all the verve and fun and rigor it deserves." -Kurt Andersen
"A great, sprawling saga of genius and vice in New York City’s Greenwich Village. John Strausbaugh captures Bohemia at its best and level worst, reminding us why we love this place. His account is breathtaking." -Teresa Carpenter
"The very best kind of cultural history: Literate, lucid, erudite, and entertaining." -Michael Lesy
John Strausbaugh covered downtown Manhattan history and culture as a writer and editor for the weekly New York Press from 1988 through 2002. For the New York Times he wrote and hosted the "Weekend Explorer" series of articles, videos, and podcasts on New York City history. He has also written for the Washington Post, NPR, and PBS. His previous books include E: Reflections on the Birth of the Elvis Faith, Rock 'Til You Drop, and Black Like You. A former resident of Greenwich Village, the Lower East Side, and Hell's Kitchen, he now lives in Brooklyn Heights.