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East Village Eye archive sees its way to N.Y.P.L.

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | The East Village Eye, the legendary cultural magazine that was based in and chronicled the neighborhood, has finally found a new home — that is, its archive has, after the New York Public Library recently accepted all of its material.

Leonard Abrams, in the back, to the left of the stairway post, and the East Village Eye staff at the Cable Building, at Broadway and Houston Street, where they had their office in 1985, after moving out of CHARAS/El Bohio, at E. Ninth Street and Avenue B.

Founded by Leonard Abrams, its publisher and editor, “The Eye” put out 73 issues from 1979 through 1987. It mainly focused on local topics, particularly art, music, politics and gentrification. The archive includes documents, manuscripts, artwork, photographs, videos, ephemera and a complete run of the original print publication.

At its height, the pre-Internet magazine churned out 15,000 copies per issue, with a circulation of 10,000. It was usually monthly, but occasionally bimonthly. There were sometimes summer issues that spanned a few months. In 1981, there were only two issues due to the recession.

“N.Y.P.L.’s acquisition of the East Village Eye archive is the perfect outcome of our yearslong search for the best home for these materials,” Abrams said. “I can’t think of another institution with the breadth and depth of interest, the institutional strength and the dedication to the common good that compares to the New York Public Library — not to mention where it lives. New York deserves to keep this essential trove of materials. It covers a time when it wasn’t always easy to love New York City, but we always knew how important it was to bring these voices to the public and to preserve them, even if it meant dragging them from one storage space to another for some 35 years.”

Coinciding with the archive’s acquisition, The Eye has also released its online archive, with all of its issues free on its Web site,

As for why the magazine stopped publishing, Abrams told The Village Sun, “The Eye folded when I was too exhausted to continue and didn’t have anyone else to do what I was doing.”

A “slammin’ Archive Party” to celebrate was planned for March 2 at Bowery Electric, with headliners The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black, but has been postponed.

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