The 50th Anniversary Special: An Introduction


Fifty years ago this week, the first issue of The Village Voice went on sale, for five cents, at newsstands and luncheonettes across downtown Manhattan.

It was the height of the Cold War but also the era of the bohemian coffeehouse, Beat poets, abstract expressionism, reform politics, and the rise of a new avant-garde in film, music, dance, theater, and literature. The paper’s debut issue announced its intention “Within the limitations of the given space . . . to be comprehensive in covering or listing all such movies, plays, galleries and the like, that it feels fall properly within its ‘beat.’ ”

A half-century later, we take a proud look back at the Voice—so often called a writer’s paper for the liberties it has allowed its authors. In the following pages you’ll get a taste of all its glories and foibles: the notorious fractiousness, the intensely personal journalism, and all the other quirks that make the Voice the Voice.

We asked a host of Voice writers, past and present, to recount their version of the paper’s history. And we painstakingly combed through our archives (more than 2,500 issues!) to offer this sampler of the stories we published over the last five decades—insightful cultural analysis, hard-hitting investigative reporting, and everything in between.

So many wonderful writers passed through our portals that, sadly, we couldn’t include more than a fraction of them. And we barely have space to tip our hat to the influential supplements and events the Voice launched over the years, like the Voice Literary Supplement, Pazz & Jop, and the Obie awards. What we can offer here is a tantalizing array of stories excerpted from our pages.

From the days of folksingers in Washington Square Park through the great social movements of the past century (civil rights, peace, gay liberation, and feminism), the Voice covered it all with its unique blend of guts and insight. So savor these treasures from our past, and join us for 50 more years of inspired journalism.

These days, it won’t even cost you a nickel.

50th Anniversary Editor: Joy Press

Senior Editor: Lynn Yaeger

Special Assistance: Jennifer Snow

Archive Team: Juliet Linderman, Lamarr Clarkson, Simon Reynolds, Rachel Aviv, Elizabeth Grinspan, Hervay Petion, and Melissa Silvestri

Designers: Ted Keller, L.D. Beghtol, Jorge Columbo

Photo Editor: Stacy Schwartz

Online Edition: Akash Goyal, Nathan Deuel, Jessica Bellucci

Online Designer: Don Rainwater

Online Producer: Holly Northrop

Online Development: Wellington Fan, Jeff Weston, Stefan Antonowicz

Research for Wayne Barrett: Jessica Bennett, K. Emily Bond, Ben James, Lee Norsworthy, Xana O’Neill, and Nicholas Powers