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City to Vote on Plan to Preserve Beat Generation Landmarks in Greenwich Village

By DNAinfo Staff on May 20, 2010 7:19am  | Updated on May 20, 2010 7:05am

The Landmarks Preservation Commission will vote to extend the Greenwich Village Historic District.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission will vote to extend the Greenwich Village Historic District.
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Courtesty of the Landmarks Preservation Commission

By Nicole Breskin

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

GREENWICH VILLAGE — The city is moving ahead to preserve a vast expanse of buildings that were once home to artists, writers, musicians and poets of the Beat Generation.

Following efforts by neighborhood residents and preservationists, the Landmarks Preservation Commission has scheduled a vote on June 22 on a proposal to grant historic protection to an 11-block stretch of 235 buildings in the South Village, the commission told DNAinfo.

“This is wonderful news,” said Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. “It will be the largest expansion of landmark protections in Greenwich Village since the Greenwich Village Historic District was designated in 1969.”

The larger portion of the extension would stretch from West Houston Street to West 4th Street, and Sixth to Seventh Avenue. The smaller section includes buildings on the west side of Seventh Avenue South between Leroy and Clarkson streets.

The South Village became the home of the Beat Generation beginning in the 1950s. Writer Jack Kerouac, who originated the term "beat," explained that it came from words like beatific, beaten down, and on the beat, as in jazz. It was also the source of the term "beatnik." 

“The buildings and streetscapes of the proposed extension represent over two centuries of urban development culminating in the social and cultural movements that made the Village famous in the early and mid-20th century as a community of artists, writers, performers, recent immigrants and others,” the LPC said in a statement.

Prominent buildings covered in the area also include architect Matthew Del Gaudio’s 1928 Our Lady of Pompeii Church and the flatiron-shaped Varitype Building completed in 1907.

Berman said the only downside is that landmarking hadn’t come earlier and some historic buildings have already been demolished or significantly altered.

The society campaigned since 2002 and showed support for the proposal at a hearing in Oct. 2009.

The vote will take place next month at 1 Centre St.