Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tenement Talks Inspiration

While listening to Michelle and James Nevius talk about their new book Inside The Apple: A Streetwise History of New York City last Monday, it became clear to me that history is everywhere – down every street and inside each building. I was inspired to find out what stories I could unearth about the Greenwich Village brownstone I lived in during my first year of college.

My search for the past started at 147 West 4th Street. Even when I was living there, it was obvious from the antiquated fixtures and detailed crown moldings that history had moved up and down the wraparound staircase, through the doorways, and over the creaky wooden floor planks.

A simple internet search revealed that I had inhabited a unique piece of history. Around 1918, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney created the Whitney Studio Club at 147 West 4th Street. This artist sanctuary served as the precursor to the Whitney Museum where works by acclaimed artists such as Edward Hopper were first exhibited; and in a rented room atop the studio, John Reed, the journalist and socialist, compiled the series of articles that became his masterpiece - Ten Days That Shook the World.

In this busy city it's easy to forget to look at the past, but with just a bit of digging, I was able to discover my hidden gem that better connected me to the city I love.

If you missed James & Michelle's talk, listen to a podcast, now up on the Tenement Talks page of our website.

- Posted by Tenement Talks intern Ariel Kouvaras

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