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Bohemia in Greenwich Village: Topics in Chronicling America

In the early 20th century, newspapers reported Greenwich Village as the home of poets and peasants. This guide provides access to materials related to the “Bohemia in Greenwich Village” in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.

Introduction

"The presence of an artist in a studio neighborhood proves almost too much for the patience of the moneyed." August 28, 1921. New-York Tribune (New York, NY), Image 47. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

New York City’s original home of poets and peasants, Greenwich Village was a refuge for undiscovered artists and free thinkers. The cheap quarters of the village allowed these bohemians to escape the dreary, industrial world and live a penniless, enlightened lifestyle. But a recent subway extension has commercialized the borough and rent prices have risen rapidly. The Village’s Police Commissioner wants the bohemians gone, claiming “a certain foolish and degenerate appetite for the unusual or sensational is ruining the village.” The bohemians are fleeing and the Village is turning into a ghost of its once thriving and authentic community. Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.

Timeline

1914-1918 National newspapers pick up on the rich culture of Greenwich Village, New York City’s haven for starving artists and “young, unrecognized genius.”
June 1, 1919 The Seventh Avenue subway extension brings The Village within 10 minutes of Wall Street, dramatically raising the cost of living.
November 11, 1920 Police Commissioner Enright plans to restore The Village “to its previous status of a respectable residential and business neighborhood.”
1920-1922 Unable to afford the newly commercialized borough, the Bohemians flee to Paris and establish new communities in areas such as Washington, DC.