Tenants’ battle, Bella, Koch, ‘Klute,’ female convicts

The July 15, 1971, issue of The Villager featured an article on a block party and paint-in at the corner of Hudson and West 10th Sts. to protest a landlord accused of not providing repairs to several nearby buildings. More than 100 people attended the weekend party, including 40 families who were on a rent strike since the previous December in those buildings. Activities included magicians, a folk singer and painting the first floor yellow and green at the five buildings under protest. Two large signs were hung on a building reading, “Tenant Strike” and “People before Profits.” Gillian Horgan, a resident of one of the buildings and chairperson of the tenants association, said, “We had the block party not only to celebrate, but to enlist community support for our strike, and to help organize other buildings in the area.”

Another article was about Congressmember Bella Abzug, “Battling Bella,” and her busy speaking schedule, as she called for more daycare facilities, announced funds for a new federal building, and told the National Women’s Political Caucus in D.C. that women should reject “tokenism” and require equal representation at all levels of government. The Page 1 photo (at right) showed Abzug from the rear, wearing one of her trademark big hats, while passionately leaning forward as she spoke — but didn’t show her face; the caption asked readers if they could possibly guess who it might be.

Also, work was set to begin on mosaic artwork in Washington Square Park at the Teenage Plaza; an ex-prostitute called for prostitution to be decriminalized and said the problem of addiction among prostitutes needed to be addressed; two new members were appointed to the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, created in 1965; and then-Congressmember Ed Koch announced that women inmates at Rikers Island would have access to college courses. Villagers’ concern about female inmates’ welfare had been heightened after the closure the previous month of the Women’s House of Detention at Greenwich and Sixth Aves.

The issue included ads for Monte’s, the trattoria still going strong at 97 MacDougal St., a showing of the recently released “Klute” at one of the local Cinema5 / Rugoff Theatres, and several ads for Nat Simon’s Penguin, a steakhouse at 21 W. Ninth St., with a picture of a smiling woman and reading, “The first lady of the second most charming restaurant in the whole world. Bring Nat Simon this picture of his wife and he’ll probably send wine to your table. He’s crazy about her.”

— Gabe Herman

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