Virtual Village App Takes Jazz Lovers on Walking Tours of Historic Sites

Nov 23, 2020

Credit Wikimedia Commons

The history of jazz in Greenwich Village is in danger of disappearing -- so many buildings important to jazz history have not gotten landmark status.

Village Preservation is trying to safeguard jazz history. It’s launched the Virtual Village, an app that offers self-guided, interactive walking tours of sites significant in jazz. The neighborhood south of Union Square, which spans just six city blocks from 9th to 14th Streets between Third and Fifth Avenues, was once home to jazz great Randy Weston, The Columbia Phonograph Company (present day Columbia Records) where John Hammond first recorded Billie Holiday and Garland Wilson, and famed jazz club Bradley’s where greats like Roy Hargrove, Cyrus Chestnut, and Jackie Terrasson made their reputations. 

In addition to the sites mentioned above, the area contains several more locations associated with esteemed jazz artists including Frank Sinatra, Milton J. Hinton, Benny Carter, and Ethel Waters.

“The area South of Union Square is an important piece of New York’s DNA, yet because it almost entirely lacks landmark protections, its history and great historic buildings are being lost every day,” said Andrew Berman, executive director, Village Preservation. “We hope that this tool will bring increased awareness to the critical need to preserve these sites, which for nearly two centuries have made our city a unique, vibrant, and progressive cultural hub and incubator of enormous national and global influence.” 

Village Preservation, a group dedicated to preserving the historic, architectural and cultural fabric of Greenwich Village, East Village and NoHo in Manhattan, launched its campaign to seek landmark protections for the South of Union Square area in 2018, after it faced increasing threats of demolition and out-of-scale new development stemming in large part from the tech industry. 

For more information about the Village Preservation’s South of Union Square campaign, please visit their website at https://www.villagepreservation.org/campaign/south-of-union-square/.