Growing Up Bank Street: A Greenwich Village Memoir


Product Details

$24.95  $23.20
New York University Press
Publish Date
5.7 X 8.7 X 1.1 inches | 1.0 pounds
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About the Author

Donna Florio is a lifelong resident of Bank Street in Greenwich Village. Nurtured by colorful, eccentric neighbors who taught her to "never wonder about life from the outside. Jump in!" Donna has, over the years, worked as an opera singer, a TV producer, a Wall Street executive, and an educator, and has backpacked around the world.


"I can't recall when I've had a more engrossing read. Let Donna Florio take you through several decades in the walkup building and the street in Greenwich Village where she has spent much of her life. The Village has always been a creative caldron, attracting artistic and showbiz figures, and Florio knew many of them as neighbors and friends -- and she provides you with an intimate look at them and also some lesser-known figures, taking you from the Broadway of the 1920s through the Cold War through the punks of the 1970s. A former child opera singer and excellent storyteller, Florio's characters are realized on the Bank Street stage. Along the way, you'll meet some of the Village's desperate, funny, engaging personages and you'll be convinced you know them too, even if you have never come within a mile of the neighborhood."-- "Kevin Walsh, author of Forgotten New York: Views of a Lost Metropolis"
"An absolutely delightful book about one of New York's storied city blocks."--Graydon Carter
"If you love a particular New York street, if you love any city street, you will be entranced by Donna Florio's Growing Up Bank Street, her poignant, sometimes hilarious, occasionally heart-breaking memoir about coming of age on an iconic stretch of an iconic neighborhood. In a city that seemingly grows more monied and more corporate by the day, she captures a moment when a neighborhood could be defined by the human bonds and connections forged on its streets. Thanks to Florio's book, we can return, at least briefly and in memory, to a golden if sometimes tarnished era in the city's history."--Constance Rosenblum, author of Boulevard of Dreams: Heady Times, Heartbreak and Hope Along the Grand Concourse In The Bronx
"Bank Street, which runs six blocks through the heart of New York's Greenwich Village, is the lifelong home of Donna Florio, born to operatic parents at Number 63 between West Fourth and Bleecker. With Growing Up Bank Street Donna has done a great service to the neighborhood, bestowing great love on the colorful iconoclasts of the day. There was no one more Bohemian ("a person who lives free of conventional rules") than Marion Tanner, my Buddhist great-aunt and inspiration for my father Patrick Dennis's 1955 bestseller Auntie Mame. In the Thirties Marion knew Everyone, including George Gershwin, Martha Graham, D.H. Lawrence, Billie Holiday, and Eugene O'Neill. In the Sixties she turned Number 72 into a free boarding house and took in Anyone, to the chagrin of her Bank Street neighbors, my generous but not-infinitely-patient father, and the Internal Revenue Service. The reader of Donna's delightful pages will re-enter the Bohemian paradise of yore that has, sadly, been priced out of existence."--Dr. Michael Tanner Bellevue Hospital, NYC
"An intimate and affectionate memoir that restores a vanished corner of New York to the vibrant life that nurtured the eccentricities of Upper and Lower Bohemia. Bank Street thrived for a century even though it was surrounded by a suspicious working-class conformity, but all shared a neighborhood in common humanity that was blown away by too much money."--Lawrence Malkin, author of Krueger's Men: The Secret Nazi Counterfeit Plot and the Prisoners of Block 19
"Florio charms in her debut memoir about a life well-lived on Greenwich Village's Bank Street. This sentimental memoir will uplift any reader, no matter where they may call home."-- "Publishers Weekly"
"With rich detail and compassion, Florio takes us into her world, sharing many of the poignant memories of her life among 'the neighbors who became my allies and surrogate family.' Most touching of all are the many warm (and sometimes heartbreaking) memories of her neighbors opening their homes and hearts to each other. Thanks to Florio, as the Village continues to face gentrification, like many neighborhoods across America, we will never forget Bank Street. A charming stroll down Memory Lane and a tribute to a vanishing culture."-- "Kirkus Reviews"
"A vibrant, heartfelt memoir, centered on one of Greenwich Village's most notable series of blocks. A lifelong New Yorker, Florio combines historical context with personal experiences in her kaleidoscopic account, which spans from the Colonial era to more recent gentrification. ... Florio fills each chapter with verve and colorful observations. Her decades on Bank Street gave her access to 'every social, cultural, and economic layer of American life'--a breadth reflected in her knowledge of New York, and in her love for the city as well."-- "Foreword Reviews"
"Back in high school, there was always something a little extra cool, if hard to define, about Bank Street. Reading this book, I get it now. Donna Florio has taken a heartfelt deep dive into one of my favorite neighborhoods growing up. These pages are teeming with so many wonderful details and insights, you'll feel like you grew up there too--or maybe just wish you did."--Paul Reiser, actor, comedian, and author
"In Greenwich Village, longshoremen drank with poets and showgirls cavorted with judges. Yet somehow, this book takes you to a street and a world that feels like home no matter where you grew up."--Joe Gilford, author of Why Does the Screenwriter Cross the Road?
"Donna Florio's immersive chronicle of one classic Greenwich Village street is a fascinating microcosm that opens a window onto the hopes and struggles of a family, a city, and ultimately a nation."--Eric Myers, author of Uncle Mame: The Life of Patrick Dennis
"Donna Florio had an eclectic Greenwich Village childhood, with opera-singer parents, neighbor John Lennon just down the street and Sex Pistols star Sid Vicious in the apartment next door. A delightful look back at a bygone neighborhood of beatniks and bohemians in a very different New York City."-- "New York Post"
"Does a street that's only six blocks long rate a whole book? I wouldn't have thought so... But Donna Florio's Growing Up Bank Street turned me around. The fact is that this modest strip of brownstones and smallish apartment buildings has had a monumental impact on American culture."-- "Air Mail"
"With 'Spaldeens' from the five-and-dime store; the drug store's ice cream counter; deceased Sid Vicious and oh-so-many celebrities--both notorious and infamous; the Commies; the alcoholic hoarder; the butcher shop; and Italian restaurant, Florio provides a taste of not only her building at number 63, but of a most colorful piece of Greenwich Village, Manhattan real estate, filled with eccentric and perhaps the most diverse characters in this universe."-- "New York Journal of Books"
"Evidencing the unique kinds of lives that cities can foster, Florio's heartfelt work is like a valentine marking a place in that book's pages, dedicated to a way of life that's largely vanished."-- "The Red Hook Star-Revue"
"A fascinating read from cover to cover, Growing Up Bank Street is an extraordinary collection of reminisces and memories."-- "Midwest Book Review"