I was fortunate enough, in my first semester of graduate school, to have both of my classes feature major research projects on the very area my school was located in—the historic Greenwich Village. The characters I came across in my own research were fairly incredible. Where should I start listing them? With the almost-presidential nominee whose company sank a boat that helped spur the panic of 1857? The group of rowdy artists who dressed absurdly and liked to make fun of their own creations? What about the indicted former bank mogul, or better, the star witness who had a heart attack and died on the stand at his trial? The outspoken 19th-century journalist who created the women’s club movement, and oh, happened to spend time in my hometown?
And that’s just my stuff. Looking at the exhibits going up on Omeka as I write this, it looks as though I’ll be learning about everything from writers to jails to speakeasies to squatters. The lists for the village, it seems, are never ending. And now as I walk around the Village, to class perhaps, or to Tompkins Square Park, to a neighborhood pub, or to the library, I’ll try to remember all of those who walked before me. It is their efforts to change the world in some way that have made the Village the historically-rich place it is today, and it is their stories that have educated and entertained me in the most wonderful way over the past four months.