Greenwich Village was filled with eccentrics and bohemians, but it was also where many families and kids resided, such as Lisa Jane Persky. “This place had a certain history in it,” she said. “It called to people who wanted to feel comfortable being different.” When Persky’s parents first moved to the Village in 1962, they stayed in a nearby apartment building off Sheridan Square. One of the first sights she saw while looking outside her bedroom window was Bob Dylan, who was sporting the same coat he wore on his first album cover. Bibbe Hansen was another kid who grew up in the Village—living at 609 East Sixth Street, between Avenues C and D, and on Great Jones Street. Her junior high school was in Greenwich Village, where her teachers imbued students with a utopian outlook. “One of the things to really get about these times is how incredibly optimistic we were, how incredibly blessed we felt,” Hansen recalled. “We conquered childhood diseases and diphtheria and smallpox and polio, and we were conquering the civil rights injustices.” It felt like so many evils were being eradicated, and they were inheriting a new world in which the seeds of social justice were finally bearing fruit. When Persky attended P.S. 41, near the progressive New School for Social Research, she recalled, “It was hammered into us that we were in a melting pot. So I thought by the time I’m an adult, there will be so much interracial marriage that we’d all just be one color.” It was common to see interracial couples in the neighborhood, along with other sights that would have scandalized people in other parts of the country.
From Chapter 1 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore