West Village History & Culture
Countless great artists of the 20th century have passed through the West Village’s angular streets, either living in the area, performing in highly-regarded clubs, or both. Café Society alone hosted performances from John Coltrane, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday, Les Paul, and too many more in a short 10-year run on Sheridan Square. In 1914, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney established a center for young artists to display their work and convene. This so-called Whitney Studio Club grew over the years, so much so that we today know it as the expansive Whitney Museum of American Art on Gansevoort Street. Before it ever showcased work from Tennessee Williams and David Mamet, the Cherry Lane Theatre — NYC’s oldest-running off-Broadway venue — had been a farm silo and a box factory. There are entire cities that don’t have even half the cultural footprint of the West Village.