Gallegos in Greenwich Village

In 1931, Caroline Ware, a Professor of American History at Vassar College, was commissioned by Columbia University’s Council for Research in the Social Sciences to conduct a study of the community of Greenwich Village.

Ware devised a questionnaire and supervised a team of researchers, who canvassed the neighborhood, trying to get a sense of the lived experience of the different ethnic groups that coexisted in the Village. Just four years later, making ample use of this data, she published Greenwich Village, 1920 – 1930: A Comment on American Civilization in the Post-War Years, which would go on to be considered a model of collaborative research and a classic of urban sociology.

Spaniards make their appearance on the very first page of this study, when Ware affirms that her proper object of study is not so much the already mythologized American bohemia of Greenwich Village, but rather the neighborhood’s “Italian immigrants and their children, Irish longshoremen, truck-drivers, and politicians, Jewish shopkeepers, Spanish seamen, and a remnant of staid old American and German citizens” (p. 3).
While small when compared to the other ethnic groups mentioned, the Spanish colony in Greenwich Village merits 18 entries in the book’s index and a four-page section in the chapter (VII) titled “Other Ethnic Groups.” Virtually all of the 60-odd Spaniards surveyed are from the province of Coruña in Galicia, and most live in the 10 square blocks bordered by West Street and Greenwich Street (west-east), and Christopher and Bank (south-north).

[Image is a map of the Spanish district that canvassed by Ware’s researcher. Legend indicates apartment houses, grocery stores, pool rooms, boarding houses, restaurants, tailor shops, speakeasy, etc.] We will share excerpts of the field notes in subsequent posts.