When Greenwich Village was Bohemia

Greenwich Village, New York: The American Bohemia, home of progressive people, art, and culture, wellspring of risk-taking artists and designers. Marcel Duchamp proclaimed it “the Independent Republic of Greenwich Village.” And so it was for many decades—an enclave for liberty: Sexual, racial, political. Much of the Village is still the same on the surface. The winding streets that run counter to New York’s strict grid give it a European air.

Like all independent republics and many neighborhoods, Greenwich Village has had its own newspapers and magazines. In my lifetime they include The Villager and The Village Voice, but there were many other small and large periodicals. The original Playboy (not Hugh Hefner’s) was published in the Village, and The Masses and the New Masses were issued from there too. Among the most-read of them all was The Greenwich Village Quill, a literary, art, and culture “little mag” with a satiric bent that served as a welcome mat for the Republic, offering tours of all the Bohemian hot spots along with (for its time) racy editorial content. Here is one issue devoted to one of the social taboos of the day: sex.

 

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