For the past 41 years, Cornelia Street Cafe has lived in the Greenwich Village as a gathering place for so many artists. Now increasing rent prices are driving them out as it has so many small businesses across the city.
On January 2, 2019 their iconic red doors will close for good. The cafe was opened by “three ‘starving artists’ in 1977,” Charles McKenna, Raphaela Pivetta, and Robin Hirsch. According to a press release,
Filled with emotion, Robin, a true champion of the arts, has begun to make the news known to regulars, to performers and to business colleagues. “I am sad to say that I am losing my oldest child,” he recently wrote. “Cornelia has brought me both joy and pain, and it is with a broken heart that I must bid her adieu.”
Over the years the space has grown from one small room to the two floors it is today, with what is now known as the Cornelia Street Underground venue where you can still catch readings and musical performances. Filled with history the cafe has hosted a long lists of artists that began in that underground room in genres that spread across poetry, music, comedy, and literary ambassadors. It is even the place where Eve Ensler began her now famous Vagina Monologues. As the press release goes on to say,
From its launch as a one-room Café with a toaster oven and a cappuccino machine, it became a beehive of artist activity – it was a place where in the seventies songwriters congregated, and by their own rules performed only new songs written that week. Out of that over 5,000 songs were born and led to an album appropriately titled, Cornelia Street: The Songwriters Exchange, which was also the first and only non-jazz album put out by the now-defunct jazz label, Stash Records.
It is a New York City treasure that will be sorely missed.