[EPISODE] The East Village
Join us for a journey to the East Village.
My guests will be Rediscovering New York regular Joyce Gold of Joyce Gold History Tours, and special guest Lorcan Otway, Owner of Theatre 80 on St. Mark’s Place, and who is also the curator of The Museum of the American Gangster, located right above the theater.
Jeff introduces his first guest, a regular, Joyce Gold. She explains why she initially got interested in historical tours. Joyce discusses the early history of 17th century East Village and the influence of the Dutch in the area. She then talks about what the area looked like during the revolutionary area and the significance of Stuyvesant Street. She also talks about the fact that Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, the widow of Alexander Hamilton, lived in East village in the 1830s and early 40s.
Joyce begins by discussing the great variety of ethnicities that were spread throughout East Village. She then highlights the importance of East Village to the German-American people in New York. This was suddenly changed because of a tragic accident at the end of the 19th century, which was the General Slocum disaster. The ship was carrying over mostly German-Americans at the time of the accident, 1,000 of the 1,300 died. This was the largest loss of life in NYC until September 11th and permanently scarred the German community. After the exodus of the German community, the Yiddish culture sprouted in the area. Many different cultures began popping up in the area at the end of the 20th century.
Jeff kicks off this segment by introducing his second guest, Lorcan Otway. Lorcan explains that he grew up on a farm between New Rochelle and Pelham before going into the East Village. One of the first moves his father made in the East Village was to buy a small theater. Lorcan tells an intricate story of how is father found 2 million dollars and wasn’t able to keep a single penny. Lorcan continues about how his father started writing plays and why he was so passionate about theater. Jeff asks about how Lorcan went into Law and he tells a story about his rowing career in Ireland before studying and how rowing actually kicked off his law career. Jeff and Lorcan go back to talking about the various ethnicities in the midst of the East Village, specifically the Ukranian community.
Lorcan continues to talk about Theatre 80 and the various events that they have going on. From Irish Trad to Shakespeare to different films, they always have things happening. Lorcan is also the curator of The Museum of the American Gangster. He started it because there used to be a speakeasy in the basement of the theater. The location had been a bar since 1922, but since his father was a Quaker, he did not want to pay to renew the bar. Now known as the William Barnacle Tavern, the bar functions as a quiet but popular speakeasy. Lorcan talks about the fact that the East Village will always have a vibrant energy and bar scene. The only thing that Lorcan wishes was still around, is the fact that there used to be more mom and pop shops in the East Village.