This year marks the 40th anniversary of the founding of Westbeth – the groundbreaking Greenwich Village waterfront complex which took the abandoned, 19th century Bell Telephone Labs and, to the designs of a young unknown architect named Richard Meier, transformed them into a first-of-its-kind subsidized housing and workspace for artists. This architecturally stunning complex is rich in cultural history; Diane Arbus, Merce Cunningham, Moses Gunn, Gil Evans, and Vin Diesel among others lived and got their start there, and as the Bell Telephone labs, the transistor, chain broadcasting, the vacuum tube, and the transatlantic telephone, and parts of the first “talkie,” The Jazz Singer, were first produced there. Westbeth’s transformation turned the Greenwich Village waterfront from a gritty industrial backwater to one of the most vibrant and sought-after residential communities in the world, and its use of factory space for artists housing forever changed the possibilities we imagined for our cities.
In 2008, GVSHP released an oral history project with many of the founders and prime-movers behind Westbeth; in 2009, GVSHP was able to get Westbeth listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places; and in 2010, the city began to fulfill a promise made to GVSHP and the larger Greenwich Village community in 2004 when it held a hearing on landmark designation for Westbeth. Designation has been promised before the end of the year, though no vote date has yet been set (the City also promised landmark designation of three other sites in the Far West Village which, six years later, have still not been considered); GVSHP is urging the city to move ahead on these.
Join us this Sunday for this spectacular tour and celebration of Westbeth.
Find out more or purchase tickets HERE.
HELP PRESERVE WESTBETH AND THE FAR WEST VILLAGE:
Send a letter to the Landmarks Preservation Commission urging that they move ahead with the promised landmarking of Westbeth and with the long-overdue landmark designation of remaining sites in the Far West Village > >
Westbeth photo courtesy of Barry Munger.
The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation
232 East 11 Street, New York, NY 10003 : 212.475.9585 : firstname.lastname@example.org