music venues

From Spoiled NYC:

The Sound of Silence: A Tribute To Webster Hall

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For 131 years, Webster Hall has hosted some of the world’s biggest musical acts. Today it closes its doors– at least until it reopens under new ownership, sold in a deal worth an estimated $35 million.

The space, with a maximum capacity of 2,500 people, served as a nightclub, concert venue, corporate events space, and recording studio.

It will reopen in either 2019 or 2020 as the newly christened Spectrum Hall, its space restricted to concerts and sporting events.

I received the phone call in early May. A friend of mine told me management had served all Webster Hall employees with termination notices.

True, it had been a couple of years since I’d set foot in the venue, but a part of me heaved a pained sigh for yet another victim of the city’s changing landscape, for the many dances I’d shared with fellow miscreants who streamed into the place, their wrists ablaze with the shades of kandi bracelets and multi-colored fluffies.

I remembered the faces of the girls I kissed as vividly as I recalled those of the men I kissed– or shyly didn’t kiss. I recoiled at the memory of the crappy wage I made at the time, of the overpriced drinks, the even more overpriced water bottles, a precious commodity in a space that scorched with summer heat even in midwinter.

The people I met there ran the gamut, from frat bros with cockeyed grins, to scene kids with more gumption than me, roadsters who surveyed groups of three or more, code switching and peddling ketamine all the while.

Mirrored behavior existed on the far more spacious dance floor at Amazura Concert Hall in Queens or the even more cramped Electric Warehouse in Brooklyn, and the East Village had long given way to millennial kink, this host of music, bodies, motion, and silent exchanges in bathroom stalls.

“Webster had that old-time New York grunge that made you feel like you were part of the 19th century, in the sense that “fun” could easily involve trying to locate your stolen purse/phone,” says Michael Yates, formerly of Harlem and now living in Los Angeles.

“I’ll miss it. I’m sure the new version of the inside will look fantastic and modern and have a pleasant aroma. Old style Webster Hall was my first immersion into NYC’s EDM scene at the time. It was a place that was magical in the dark, probably because it would look awful when illuminated by sunlight.”

websterhall Having our friend @Halsey visit for an intimate show in the The Studio at Webster Hall tonight before we close for renovations in August. Stay tuned for more surprise shows leading up till then!

The venue, Yates continues, is a “perfect example” of New York City’s infrastructure.

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from Curbed.com:


Bleecker Street’s Evolution From Sleepy Suburb to America’s Left Bank

James Nevius is the author of three books about New York City, the most recent of which is Footprints in New York: Tracing the Lives of Four Centuries of New Yorkers.

[LeRoy Place. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.]

Every generation has defined Greenwich Village differently—sleepy suburb, elite residential enclave, America’s Left Bank, Sex in the City streetscape—but the one constant for over two centuries has been the neighborhood’s tangle of streets, which defy logic and sometimes surprise even longtime residents. Purposefully left off John Randel’s 1811 Manhattan street grid, the core of the West and South Village lies along even older thoroughfares: Christopher Street, which cut inland from the pier; Greenwich Avenue (known in the colonial era as Monument Lane), and, most significantly, Bleecker Street, which was an important road even before it cut through Anthony Bleecker’s farm.

The far western edge of what we call Greenwich Village was a Native American settlement/fishing camp known as Sapokanican, a name which may or may not refer to tobacco fields in the area. Certainly, by the time the Dutch arrived in force in the 1620s, tobacco was on their minds, and the Dutch West India Company’s director-general, Wouter Van Twiller, acquired a large parcel of land in the area in 1633 to cultivate the cash crop. The Dutch began referring to the small settlement as Noortwijck (“north village”), a reminder that it was the first village where ships could put in when sailing north on the Hudson River from New Amsterdam.

For much of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Hudson River was the primary mode of travel to Noortwijck; the only other route north, the Bowery (“farm road”) ran too far to the east. Some early maps also show a “Road to Greenwich” (today’s Greenwich Street) hugging the coastline, but it was often flooded, rutted, and not really viable. At some point after the British took over New Amsterdam in 1664, Noortwijck was renamed Greenwich, but the reasons behind this are murky. It may simply be named after Greenwich, England, or it may be a corruption of another Dutch moniker, Greenwijck (“pine village”).

[A closeup of Greenwich Village from the 1767 Ratzer Map.]

As the population of Manhattan grew, Greenwich Village became a place for wealthier New Yorkers to summer. The most famous country estates were Richmond Hill—home to John Adams when New York was the seat of government, and then later to Aaron Burr—and the home of Admiral Peter Warren, at what would one day become the block bounded by Perry, Charles, West 4th Street, and Bleecker. In 1748, a large tract west of the Bowery was acquired by Elbert Haring and his land (mislabeled “Herrin”) appears on the 1767 Ratzer map with a small road running through it; that road is the first evidence for what is today Bleecker Street—and the path may well have pre-dated the Haring family’s purchase.

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