The Way We Were—And Are


Ross Wetzsteon, the Voice‘s onetime editor in chief and longtime theater critic and editor, completed Republic of Dreams, his vivid history of bohemian Greenwich Village from Max Eastman and Edna St. Vincent Millay to Djuna Barnes and Jackson Pollock, just before he died in 1998. That book’s publication, early next month, prompts us to examine the way we were. With this supplement, the Voice looks back to its roots and celebrates both the notion and the reality of bohemia. Founded in 1955 and initially edited out of an office just off Sheridan Square, the Voice called itself “A Weekly Newspaper of Greenwich Village” for more than a decade. Though left-wing ferment and the avant-garde arts have spread far beyond its geographical boundaries, the Village remains a magnet for mavericks and free spirits of all ages. So we returned to the old neighborhood to see what it looked like — from crystal-beaded lamps to a mattress on the floor — just before and just after the Voice appeared on the scene, and how the bohemian sensibility survives today. Alexis Soloski takes writer Dawn Powell as her guide to the Village’s world of interiors. Toni Schlesinger gets her inspiration from the “lovable little hipster” in Sandra Scoppettone and Louise Fitzhugh’s post-beat cult book, Suzuki Beane. And Francine Russo visits all the apartments in the C-line of a building on Grove Street for a glimpse of present-day dailiness in a neighborhood that rarely sleeps and never stands still.