Feting 50 years of G.V. Historic District

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BY TEQUILA MINSKY | With balmy breezes, and shedding layers of winter garb, Villagers enjoyed a taste of the summer to come in Washington Square Park on Sat., April 13. Many of them headed toward Garibaldi Plaza to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Greenwich Village Historic District.

Villagers have a strong steward to maintain the neighborhood’s historical essence in the focused and persistent leadership of Andrew Berman, the executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. G.V.S.H.P. is shortening its name to Village Preservation.

Assemblymember Deborah Glick presented preservationist Andrew Berman with an Assembly proclamation honoring both his Village Preservation group and the 50th anniversary of the Greenwich Village Historic District. (Photo by Tequila Minsky)

In his opening remarks, Berman told the audience catching the welcomed sun, “The largest historic district in New York City continues to attract residents, creators and visitors from around the world.” He reminded everyone of unique Village features — charming architecture, crooked streets.

During that weekend and, in fact, all of 2019, Village Preservation is celebrating 50 years of the district’s landmark designation, helping to preserve one of world’s most beloved neighborhoods.

Washington Square Park mainstays Ryo Sasaki and his jazz group provided musical entertainment. (Photo by Tequila Minsky)

During the delightful afternoon, a number of musicians entertained from the Garibaldi Plaza stage.

Jazz musician Ryo Sasaki usually can be heard on his horns on the park’s west side. It was great to see him getting respect when he and The Jazz Park Rangers quintet performed from the plaza stage. Richard Barone & Friends wrapped up the afternoon. Barone is a Greenwich Village musician and New School professor, as well as the front man of ’80s power-pop band The Bongos.

The Washington Square Hotel’s Judy Paul gave a special tour of the hotel. (Photo by Tequila Minsky)

Local pols schmoozed with the crowds and paid formal tribute to the historic district and the preservationists who have fought to save it.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said, “I’m a preservationist through and through, and I’m grateful to community organizers active 50 years ago who came together to preserve the architectural beauty of this area.”

Brewer reminded all of the devastation that might have occurred if Robert Moses had his way — dividing the neighborhood with highways, thus inexorably changing the area’s character.

Kids had fun doing arts and crafts. (Photo by Tequila Minsky)

“Activists came together and fought that plan,” she said. “And today, we’re grateful for their conviction.”

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Councilmember Margaret Chin, Assemblymember Deborah Glick and state Senator Brad Hoylman presented celebratory proclamations.

Offerings of walking tours (“Forgotten Villagers,” “L.G.B.T. History,” “Walks and History,” “Countercultural Bohemia”) were scheduled.

Owner Judy Paul gave a special tour of the Washington Square Park Hotel. The Edward Hopper House, the top floor in a building now owned by New York University, was open to the public. Chumley’s bar, on Bedford St., hosted a special happy hour with an archivist.

Sunday, the celebration continued with special tours and events organized by some of 11 partner organizations.

The Edward Hopper House, where the artist kept his studio, was open to the public. (Photo by Tequila Minsky)

Upcoming programming by Village Preservation includes a historic plaque unveiling on Wed., May 15, 6 p.m., at the home and studio of author Alex Haley (“Roots,” “The Autobiography of Malcolm X”), at 92 Grove St.

A fundraising benefit on Sun., May 5, will be a self-guided tour to seven Village homes that will be open to those on the tour.

“This year’s house tour will exclusively feature homes located within the Greenwich Village Historic District as part of the 50th anniversary celebration,” said Berman. “There will be seven amazing homes, with everything from impeccably preserved to dramatically transformed and reimagined spaces. There will be incredible art collections and beautiful gardens. Tickets are going fast, but can be purchased at www.gvshp.org/housetour.”