Tour 6: History on the Hoof in the Gentrifying City: Maverick Women of Greenwich Village
Tour leader: Kathleen Hulser, independent public historian
Drawing on new commitments to public historical literacy, this expedition looks at characters in a setting known for its political and social activism for more than 100 years. This two-hour tour narrates a female story of breaking codes of public decorum in the iconic spaces of Greenwich Village. It models how the walking tour can be used to modify attitudes toward quotidian environments, deepen engagement with the historical fabric of the city, and give a living edge to historical materials that too often reach only readers of academic books.
The walking tour starts with Emma Goldman, explores political activism in Union Square, probes the female side of pre-World War I bohemian culture in the West Village, and ends with references to Jane Jacobsís legacy of brownstone neighborhood activism. Other significant characters include Crystal Eastman, Clara Lemlich, Dorothy Day, Henrietta Rodman, and Louise Bryant. The storyline emphasizes women engaged in public life and public spaces, and the interpretations stress how urban contexts fostered opportunity for maverick personalities and lifestyles.
The rapid transformation of neighborhoods in the grips of gentrification offers fascinating opportunities for the historian using outdoor expeditions to teach young and old alike. This tour offers not just the story of what once was in lovely old brownstone neighborhoods, but also a platform for questioning the workings of urban democracy in defining place.
Please note: The walking part of the tour will last approximately two hours.
Limit: 25 people. $20 members, $25 nonmembers