The archive captures the culture of New York City’s iconic East Village and includes copies of every issue, an extensive collection of archival graphic art, and ephemera related to the production of the newspaper
The New York Public Library has acquired the collection of the East Village Eye, the 1980s newspaper that documented the development of the East Village and played a pivotal role in establishing the “downtown scene” during a transformative decade.
“The New York Public Library is committed to preserving the rich and diverse history of New York City, from its earliest years through the 20th and 21st centuries. In unparalleled detail, the records of the East Village Eye capture a neighborhood, a city, and a culture during one of the most complex and controversial decades in New York’s history,” said Julie Golia, Associate Director, Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare Books and Charles J. Liebman Curator of Manuscripts. “In real time, the Eye chronicled the evolution of the punk movement, the growth of hip-hop, the rise of HIV/AIDS, and the early careers of Basquiat, Mapplethorpe, Fab Five Freddy, and many others—along with the stores, bars, dance halls, and other locations that shaped everyday life in the East Village. We look forward to welcoming scholars, students, artists, and many other researchers to explore this remarkable collection.”
Founded in 1979 by Leonard Abrams, who served as its editor-in-chief throughout its eight-year run, the Eye was a small publication, but one with global cultural reach. At its height, it boasted a circulation of about 10,000 copies a month, which included newsstand sales in New York City and at various outposts across the United States, as well as subscribers from around the world. Contributors included resident advice columnist Cookie Mueller, Richard Hell, and David Wojnarowicz, and the newspaper featured images from dozens of acclaimed photographers early in their careers, from Patrick McMullan to Andres Serrano.
Highlights of the collection include:
- A full print run of all 72 issues of the East Village Eye in pristine condition (no other public institution possesses a complete print run of the periodical);
- Extensive administrative records and founding business documents for the magazine, including correspondence with staff, contributors, advertisers, and readers over the course of the Eye’s eight-year run;
- Founder Leonard Abrams’s handwritten pocket planners showing his relationship with artists, musicians, businesses, and writers across the neighborhood and beyond;
- Promotional materials created by the Eye, including maps and guides of the East Village and invitations and flyers for Eye-affiliated parties, openings, and events;
- A rich collection of photography of the downtown scene by a roster of acclaimed photographers employed or engaged by the Eye, including Marcia Resnick, Eric Kroll, Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, and others;
- Candid and behind-the-scenes snapshots of Abrams and the Eye staff and contributors at work and as participants in the neighborhood’s vibrant nightlife;
- A significant collection of original art, mixed-media collages, and comic-strip panels by artists including Lynda Barry, Tuli Kupferberg, Joseph Nechvatal, Melora Walters, and others.
“The Library’s acquisition of the East Village Eye archive is the perfect outcome of our years-long search for the best home for these materials. I can’t think of another institution with the breadth and depth of interest, the institutional strength, and the dedication to the common good that compares to The New York Public Library,” said Leonard Abrams, founder and editor-in-chief of the newspaper. “The paper covers a time when it wasn’t always easy to love New York City, but we always knew how important it was to bring these voices to the public and to preserve them.”
The collection will be housed in the Manuscripts and Archives Division, which holds over 29,000 linear feet of manuscripts and archives across almost 6,000 collections. The division holds some of the Library’s greatest treasures, from illuminated manuscripts to founding documents of the United States. The strengths of the division are the papers and records of individuals, families, and organizations, particularly in greater New York City; the American Revolution; the U.S. Civil War; American literature and literary culture; the history of publishing; and LGBTQ+ history. Serving thousands of researchers a year, the division’s collections support cutting-edge research and scholarship across many disciplines.
About The New York Public Library
For over 125 years, The New York Public Library has been a free provider of education and information for the people of New York and beyond. With over 90 locations—including research and branch libraries—throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, the Library offers free materials, computer access, classes, exhibitions, programming, and more to everyone from toddlers to scholars, and has seen record numbers of attendance and circulation in recent years. The New York Public Library receives approximately 16 million visits through its doors annually and millions more around the globe who use its resources at nypl.org. To offer this wide array of free programming, The New York Public Library relies on both public and private funding. Learn more about how to support the Library: nypl.org/support