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Oral History Collection- East Village



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This material cannot be used for commercial purposes. Short quotes and references are permitted for educational purposes. If short quotes are used, provide complete citations referencing speaker, interviewer, date, and Website with URL Address. Do not re-post or link this site or any parts of it to another program or listing, without permission from the Oral History program. Unauthorized attempts to upload information or change information on this site are strictly prohibited. Any use of the content, except as specifically permitted in these Terms or as otherwise expressly permitted in the content or in a writing signed by GVSHP, is strictly prohibited. Questions and research appointments should be directed to Sam Moskowitz.

These oral histories were produced by Oral Historian and artist Liza Zapol with funding provided by the New York Preservation Archive Project and the support of GVSHP members.

Marilyn Appleberg
Tom Birchard
Albert Fabozzi
Frances Goldin
Phil Hartman
Wolf Kahn
Jonas Mekas
Marlis Momber
Lorcan Otway
Virlana Tkacz
Robert Zerilli



Marilyn Appleberg
A published author, Appleberg has been committed to neighborhood betterment since she moved to the East Village in 1969. She is the founder and president of the 10th and Stuyvesant Streets Block Association, catalyst for improvement of the city park in front of St. Mark’s Church – as well as its re-naming to Abe Lebewohl Park – and co-founder of its summer concert series there.  She has been a leader in fighting for the preservation of the St. Mark’s Historic District and surrounding area.

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Tom Birchard

A trustee of GVSHP, Tom Birchard has owned and run Veselka, a Ukrainian restaurant and neighborhood institution, for more than four decades.

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Albert Fabozzi
A painter and interior designer, Fabozzi grew up in Coney Island and lived in the West Village as a young adult. When he and his longtime partner moved to the East Village, Fabozzi took an interest in making the neighborhood, and especially Tompkins Square Park, more safe and appealing. He served on Community Board 3 in the 1990s, becoming chairman in 1995, and founded the annual Christmas tree lighting event in the park.

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Frances Goldin
Successful Manhattan literary agent and activist in practically every progressive movement of the past 70 years on the Lower East Side. A fighter for equitable housing, she was a founder of the Metropolitan Council on Housing and the Cooper Square Committee, and was a leader in the successful effort to stop Robert Moses’ plan to bulldoze a large swath of the East Village.

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Phil Hartman
Co-owner and founder of Two Boots Pizza, a filmmaker, and an advocate for the preservation of the East Village, where he has lived for decades. He also founded the Great Jones Café and maintained his love for punk rock, film and culture while managing a successful and growing business.

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Wolf Kahn
Born in Germany, Wolf Kahn came to America as a teenager, and discovered painting while working in a U.S. Navy paint shop. He went on to study under Stuart Davis and Hans Hofmann, and was part of the East 10th Street gallery scene. A highly acclaimed contemporary painter, one of his most vivid Village memories is being a “blockbuster” who paved the way for African-Americans to rent apartments.

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Jonas Mekas
Born in Lithuania, Jonas Mekas came to New York City after World War II and became part of the downtown arts scene as a writer, poet and auteur. He pursued his passion for making and displaying avant-garde film, founding the world-renowned Anthology Film Archive in 1970.

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Marlis Momber
Born in 1943 in Berlin, Germany, Marlis has lived in Loisaida since 1975. Her photographs document the struggle of the mostly Puerto Rican people living in that part of Manhattan. Her B&W and Color Photographs have been used to illustrate national and international publications on political and cultural topics such as: gentrification, urban development, slum lords/arson for profit, squatting, affordable housing/homesteading, cultural identity, education, the arts, drugs and urban crime.

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Lorcan Otway

Lorcan Otway, the owner of the Off Broadway Theater 80, located at 80 St. Mark’s Place, speaks about the theater’s history, as well as the cultural history of the East Village. He recounts stories of the former repertory movie house and theatre’s past as a speakeasy during Prohibition, at which time it was owned by a Bavarian gangster and friend to Al Capone. Otway describes the off-Broadway and off-off-Broadway theater scene in Village during the 1960s, and muses on the history of organized crime in the Village.

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Virlana Tkacz
Virlana Tkacz was born in Newark, but had family connections to the Ukrainian community in the East Village, to which she eventually moved. She pursued theater at La MaMa under Ellen Stewart, whose encouragement led to the creation of Tkacz’s own theater company. The Yara Arts Group addresses themes related to Eastern Europe and has been based at La MaMa since 1990.

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Robert Zerilli
Robert Zerelli was born in New Jersey and moved to New York City at the age of 18 to work at the bakery founded by his grandfather in 1894. He lived above the store at 342 E. 11th Street, married a customer, had a family, and has been running this successful bakery for three decades.

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