News & Politics

Village Voice Indulges in California Dreamin’


Clip Job: an excerpt every day from the Voice archives.

May 10, 1962, Vol. VII, No. 29

Village and Big Sur

By J. R. Goddard

Greenwich Village’s fervent belief that you CAN beat City Hall is popping up in other parts of the nation these days. California’s famed Big Sur colony — analagous to the Village as an art center — is winning its own battle against those who would commercialize and drastically change it.

Big Sur dwellers seem to be using Village tactics too.

By organizing themselves into one loud, long yell of protest they are thwarting superhighways, saving mountains, and frustrating the rural equivalent of the irresponsible high-rise apartment builder — the suburban subdivider.

The Sur, in case you didn’t know it, is a beautiful and much-publicized 100-mile stretch of mountain and beach running along the coast from Carmel to San Simeon. Made famous by the poetry of Robinson Jeffers, it later became internationally known as an avant-garde outpost when Henry Miller landed there in 1944. Although he left the Sur a year ago, Miller’s name is still romantically associated with the isolated ridge and coastal settlements making up the community.

The Big Sur’s troubles became apparent a few years ago (as did those of the Village) when somebody wanted to enlarge a road. In this case, however, it wasn’t a few hundred yards through Washington Square, but 70 miles of coastal highway winding through redwood canyons and magnificent beaches…

What followed will remind Villagers only too well of the Washington Square road bagarre, the fight for aesthetic zoning, and the assaults on City Hall by the West Village shock troops….

[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]


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