We’re in the midst of a monumental health crisis.
Fittingly, then, Robin Rothstein, the chairperson of Community Board 2’s Arts and Institutions Committee, has released a video of a two-wheeled tour of Village monuments.
Rothstein’s “Take a Landmark Bike Ride: West Village Resiliency Tour” makes stops at local public art and landmarks — some of them which are somewhat overlooked in the neighborhood’s day-to-day life.
“Monuments in our neighborhood reflect the challenges, heroism and resilience that we are seeing in our neighborhood and the world today,” Rothstein notes.
The tour gets rolling at Winston Churchill Square, at Sixth Ave. and Bleecker St., and wends its way to the NYC AIDS Memorial Park at St. Vincent’s Triangle, at Seventh Ave. and W. 12th St. There are stops along the way in Hudson River Park, at the Jane Hotel and Abingdon Square.
Along the way, Rothstein checks in (remotely) with experts to flesh out the history behind each location. Interviews include Georgia Silvera Seamens of www.localecology.org, Michelle Young of Untapped Cities, Sigrid Esser of the Abingdon Square Conservancy, and Dave Harper of the NYC AIDS Memorial.
Viewers will notice Rothstein sans face mask as she makes her rounds. Some might wonder if the footage was shot before the current health crisis or at least before everyone was told to cover their face in public.
“It was filmed during the pandemic,” Rothstein told The Village Sun. “When I’m not wearing a mask, I was not within six feet of anyone, or no one was around the area at all. I had my mask with me during the filming process and would restore wearing it when anyone came in closer proximity.”
The video is presented in collaboration with Village Preservation, formerly the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.
Churchill Square was not really named to honor the British Prime Minister, as the video states. Churchill had no roots or connection to the Village or even NYC.
It used to be called Downing Square. However, Giuliani’s eccentric Parks Commissioner, Henry Stern, made a game of giving acquaintances a nickname. For example, the nickname he gave me was “Mr. Natural.”
Anyway, there used to be a dry cleaner across Downing Street whose address was 10 Downing Street and was called the 10 Downing Street Cleaners.
Stern saw this and thought it ever so cutesy to rename the park after one of many occupants of that residence of British prime ministers, 10 Downing Street in London.
It was a completely arbitrary and capricious decision on his part. He may as well have named it Margaret Thatcher or John Major Square, after one of Churchill’s fellow right-wing Tories.
Churchill had no connection to NYC. He was only here once and the most momentous incident of that visit was his getting hit by a taxi on Park Avenue, possibly when he was drunk, which he so often was.
It often wonders me why Villagers allow this park to be named for a right-wing conservative and British imperialist This British aristocrats’s record was mixed. In WWI, he oversaw the disastrous Gallipoli Campaign, which resulted in the slaughter of thousands of working-class British soldiers. He famously turned the machine guns on the striking miners. His views on race were, at best, questionable.
The dry cleaners that inspired Stern’s cutesy name for this park is long since gone. It is high time for CB2 to decide whether this park should continue to be named after a racist, imperialist foreigner. I propose it be renamed for a local Villager or long-serving CB2 member. How about none other than Doris Diether?
Very well done and inspiring video tour!
I love Doris, but there’s nothing in the Village named for Verna Small, who was one of the two ladies most responsible for the Greenwich Village Historic District.