Now the city's largest geographical historic district has been extended by the Landmarks Preservation Commission for the second time since the boundaries were first established in 1969. The 235-building expansion is one-third of what the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation is calling the South Village Historic District, so the group is only relatively happy today. "We are thrilled that the first piece of this neighborhood which we have been fighting for nearly a decade to protect has finally been granted landmark status," said the group's vocal executive director, Andrew Berman. "However, we are equally distressed that so much of the neighborhood has been lost while we have been waiting for action from the city, and we fear that much more will be lost while we wait for the remaining two-thirds of the neighborhood to be considered."
From the group's release:
GVSHP first approached the LPC in 2002 about designating the South Village, and in late 2006 submitted a 95-page report to the LPC arguing for designation of the area, as well as the history of each of the 750 buildings in the neighborhood. The South Village is the formerly largely Italian-immigrant section of Greenwich Village south of Washington Square Park and West 4th Street, which has perhaps the largest intact collection of housing and social, cultural, religious, educational, and charitable institutions connected to late-19th and early-20th century immigrant life in New York. The South Village was also the scene of many of the most important sites of the great American counter-cultural movements of the late-19th through the mid-20th centuries, including the Beats of the 1950's, the folk-revival of the 1960's, and the invention of modern American theater in the 1910's.
The group lists the Circle in the Square Theater, Sullivan Street Playhouse, Provincetown Playhouse, Tunnel Garage, and W.H. Auden's home as treasures already lost or altered beyond recognition in the neighborhood.