When discussing my book, Left Bank of the Hudson: Jersey City and the Artists of 111 1st Street, at a public event or even among a handful of people, a fundamental question invariably arises: what might be done to retain–or better yet, draw–artists to a city undergoing development and gentrification? Continue reading
Several weeks ago, I spent a Friday afternoon in Greenwich Village in Manhattan. Any casual devotee of the arts and literature understands the prominent position of Greenwich Village in the constellation of American bohemian. Authors, poets, playwrights, actors, and musicians began gravitating to the neighborhood before the Civil War with the opening of the Tenth Street Studio Building in 1857, the first structure designed for practicing artists in America. This pilgrimage lasted well into the 1960s.
Today, struggling artists, brooding writers, and ragtag songsters no longer look to Greenwich Village as their mecca (I’m unsure if they even look to New York anymore). Only the artists fortunate enough to have locked down a rent-controlled or rent-stabilized apartment decades ago now call the neighborhood home. The only visible “artists” seen walking the streets are television and movie actors, models, and music moguls. Greenwich Village is the home of the creative-class’s one-percent. This population’s lasting impact on culture might prove to be negligible. The world is too much with them.